Irsay had some critiques of Manning’s time in Indianapolis and decided to make them public. As a result, Fox sat down with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan of Moving the Chains on Sirius XM NFL Radio, and according to Gray Caldwell of DenverBroncos.com he said:
I saw the comments, and to be honest with you I thought it was a bit of a cheap shot. To me, in my opinion, they were disappointing and inappropriate. Peyton would never say anything, he’s too classy to do that, but they sounded a little ungrateful and unappreciative to me, for a guy that’s set a standard, won a Super Bowl, won division titles, won four MVP awards. I’d be thankful of that one Super Bowl ring, because a lot of people don’t have one.
In an interview with USA Today‘s Jarrett Bell, Irsay had intimated that he thought Manning wasn’t successful enough in the postseason:
“We’ve changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these,” Irsay says, flicking up his right hand to show his Super Bowl XLI championship ring.
“(Tom) Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these,” Irsay adds. “Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated.
“You make the playoffs 11 times, and you’re out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love this.”
Then Irsay flicks up his right hand again.
It’s interesting to hear a team’s owner publicly denounce a player that remains a legend to fans even after his departure, a player who is universally regarded as one of the best to ever play his position. At least he didn’t go full Dan Gilbert.
With Manning putting together another MVP-caliber season, more and more people are likely second-guessing the choice by Irsay and the Colts to let No. 18 walk, even with second-year signal-caller Andrew Luck continuing to progress and show promise.
This could be some spin from an owner who felt he made the wrong decision a few years ago and is tired of putting up with the criticism.
In fact, former Colts coach Tony Dungy said that he felt Irsay wouldn’t have let Manning go had he known the quarterback would return from injury and be the player that he is, per The Denver Post‘s Mike Klis:
So even for all the reasons you just stated why it should be done, I don’t think it was ever a no-brainer in his mind and I can almost guarantee you that if he knew he was going to be healthy like this and playing this kind of football, in hindsight I don’t think he would have done it.
Fox’s comments are unlikely to be the last we hear of this story. For the first time since leaving the Colts for the Broncos, Manning will be playing in Indianapolis in Week 7.
The circumstances of his departure and overall career with the team were always going to be major storylines before the Broncos and Colts clash on Sunday night. These recent comments only add more fuel to an already hot topic.
Denver is off to a 6-0 start, tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for first place in the AFC West. Manning’s 2,179 passing yards 22 touchdowns have helped guide them there.
The 4-2 Colts, who are also in first place in the AFC South, are coming off a loss in Andrew Luck’s Monday Night Football debut and will have their hands full in another prime-time matchup with added incentive.
John Fox Defends Peyton Manning Following Colts Owner Jim Irsay’s Comments