Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

September 18, 2013

"Reality to Mr. Irsay ... Are you there?"


Hendricks County Flyer

---- — There is no denying that Twitter has provided a once-impossible glimpse into the minds of sports figures. It has also infinitely increased the ability of those figures to make absolute fools of themselves.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is one such individual, one who has used the social media platform in a way that is simply embarrassing for the proud organization.

Irsay’s latest oddball airing of company business on Twitter called out players and coaches for a lack of protection for quarterback Andrew Luck. While deficiencies in shielding The Franchise have been obvious (and amplified by Sunday’s loss of lineman Donald Thomas), these are things that should stay in-house, not be broadcast in some goofy grandstanding act.

The Colts are a billion-dollar business. Imagine for a second, your business’ owner outside of your workplace entry with a bullhorn quacking about the ineptitude of the employees within to any customers or passers-by. You’d think he or she was a disrespectful loon sabotaging the image of their own business for reasons beyond comprehension.

This is how Irsay is coming off, and I can’t figure out his motivation. He is 54 years old, but his online persona resembles an irresponsible teen-ager starved for attention.

Irsay is not alone. Many hundreds of athletes at all levels have taken their clown shows to Twitter, some while drunk, mostly while stupid.

While Johnny Manziel’s Twitter antics might’ve gotten the greatest attention, the most imbecilic tweet from the college ranks has to go to Ohio State backup quarterback Cardale Jones, who posted the eternally-epic, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.”

The pro level has its own moronic offenders, including current Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, whose online complaints about playing time last season led the eventual NFC-champion 49ers to suspend and release the helmet-throwing lummox.

After plenty of silliness across the nation from high school athletes, coaches at that level have become remarkably proactive. Many coaches won’t allow their athletes to be on Twitter unless they are a follower, thus allowing them to constantly monitor posts. A bit draconian? Perhaps, but with the casual willingness held by much of today’s youth to post virtually anything, protecting them from themselves in this case isn’t a bad thing.

Irsay’s behavior is disappointing because he is such a good person. His charitable acts, especially regarding opportunities for kids, have been tremendous. A generous tipper, he used to hand out $100 bills like dollars to employees of the country club I worked at a decade ago. Like me, he also overcame substance abuse issues, and I’ve always respected him for that.

I want to think that somewhere deep down, Irsay’s just trying to relate to the fan base. The problem is, it looks like a circus sideshow. Not on the scale of the laughable Jets, but who wants to use that as a measuring stick?

Sometimes less is more, and I hope Irsay will consider living by that code. The minute Bill Polian walked out the door on 56th Street for the last time, a giant weight was lifted off of those who work there, from players to custodians. With all of the positivity the team produces, it doesn’t need to be brought down or distracted by the guy at the top.

A guy who cares as much as Irsay obviously does should know that.

— Brent Glasgow is a sports writer for the Hendricks County Flyer and Westside Flyer. He can be reached at brent.glasgow@flyergroup .com or by calling 272-5800, ext. 190.