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Colts owner fails the big game PR test

There are times when someone just shouldn’t speak.  If tempted, zip it.

Are you reading this, Jim Irsay?

Irsay is a football team owner. He’s not a player, not a coach and not someone who in most circumstances, has to comment more than a public-relations appropriate, “We love(d) our players and we look forward to his play.” Period.

The owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Irsay is most always outspoken. There are some times, however, when even a man of his stature should keep his thoughts to himself if he doesn’t want a unnecessary distraction before his former franchise quarterback returns to the city wearing another team’s jersey.

So, what did Irsay quip that has had media abuzz the last two days? Many of us aren’t quite sure. We know that some of it referenced former Colts’ and current Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning. Maybe it was about Patriots QB, Tom Brady and his three Super Bowl rings. Was it a slight on Manning?  The masses seem to think so. At least media does. Speculation is making for a story angle that keeps on giving.

Rules of Sports PR

Among the top rules of sports PR: if you’re going to say something, be sure it’s coherent and certainly not subliminal, as you head toward one of the most anticipated games of the NFL season.

“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,” Irsay said to USA TODAY reporter, Jarrett Bell.

Of course media grabbed these and every other morsel from Bell’s story – as well as Irsay’s “clarification,” later.  If I’m an advising publicity agent for Irsay’s team, I bury my head in my hands then quickly grab one of the Size L fire extinguishers stashed in the closet.

The biggest stage of the season so far

As if this game wasn’t big enough if even if played in someone’s backyard, the Broncos visit Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil field, a facility that likely wouldn’t have been built without Manning’s influence and on-field success. It will be televised on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, one of the highest rated programs on-air from September through January.

We’re four days before the game kicks off, and sports media and fans are talking about Manning vs. Irsay, not the game and not Manning vs. Andrew Luck, a quarterback he encouraged his former team to draft.

In response to Irsay’s comments, Manning said nothing. If Irsay is smart, he won’t say anything further.

But yet PR hasn’t always been this owner’s strongest trait.


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