Jim Irsay feeling pressure to go for perfect Colts season

December 17, 2009
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There are a number of people who would benefit from the Indianapolis Colts completing an undefeated season, and team owner Jim Irsay and quarterback Peyton Manning are chief among them.

No doubt, The NFL Network—which is owned by the NFL owners—has a stake in seeing the Colts play their starters tonight. This is a marquee match-up on the fledgling cable channel still fighting for subscribers.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it known that the league and network would not benefit from seeing an exhibition game manned by the Colts subs. Irsay, owning part of The NFL Network himself, heard the message loud and clear. So the Colts reversed field and announced mid-week that magically they changed their minds and decided to go with their regulars.

And sources close to the team say Irsay is having second thoughts about the rest ‘em up policy for the remaining two games after tonight.
An undefeated season—the first since the Miami Dolphins pulled off the feat in 1972—would lead to untold marketing and sponsorship opportunities for next season and years to come. The 19-0 World Championship merchandise would fly off the shelf.

The league, sponsors and Colts players are all in Irsay's ear, many whispering ever louder, "Go for it!"

Then there’s Peyton Manning. If the Colts complete the perfect season, who could deny him league MVP honors. If the team shuts it down tonight or in the next two weeks, that gives a big advantage to Saints QB Drew Brees and Vikings QB Brett Favre who are likely to keep the pedal to the metal.
If the Colts rest players then fail to win the Super Bowl, let along lose in the playoffs’ first round, that would be a far greater blow, than going for the perfect season and falling short.

The bottom line is going for and achieving the perfect season could generate the Colts an additional eight-figure sum this year and next in sponsorship and merchandise sales alone.
The league too would get a huge boost too, and there’s no doubt Manning would be the cover boy in any ad campaign he wanted. He could even drag Eli and Archie along for the ride.

High risk, high reward.
It’s time to roll the dice.

  • Go for it
    Real sportsmen give their game 110%, 100% of the time. There's no guarantee we'll make it past the first round in the playoffs so go for the win each week. Don't play for the future - play the current game.
  • Uh 'scuze me.
    New England also had an undefetaed regular season in 2007 at 16-0. Of course that was the year they wound up "eighteen and lost." :)
  • So Erase 'em
    So if the Colts can go 16-0 AND win the Super Bowl, they would erase both the 72 Dolphins and 07 Pats from the books.

    I can't think of any better reasons than those.
  • Go Colts!
    The Giants won the Super Bowl that year on a fluke play. Tyree drops the ball... game over (maybe not game over, but if he drops the ball instead of smashing it to his helmet to catch it... it would have made it 4th & 5 with a little over a minute left, pretty close to game over... and at that point, I really think the Pats defense would have stopped them since the momentum would have been with the Pats... and not the Giants. But since that was such a huge play, the momentum shifted to the Giants).

    I think play for the perfect season. Now if we happen to lose tonight or lose next week, then yes, rest the players since the chance at a perfect season would be lost. But we still have a shot at remaining perfect! Let's go for it! I just don't think the New England argument is strong enough to say, "see, they couldn't do it". And I agree... a chance at getting to join the Dolphins in the books and erase the Patriots from the books is a great thing. GO COLTS!
  • what the heck
    What the heck happened to the theory that the playoffs are like a new season. I'm tired of hearing that going 16-0 puts too much pressure on a team in the playoffs. That's garbage. There are a lot of emotional and better yet, financial, reasons to go for it. And I'm sure the financial reasons are what matters to the players, coaches and owner. Can you imagine what this would do for coach Jim Caldwell's career. Seriously, to be put alongside the great Don Shula. This guy was in obscurity a couple years ago. No question, go for it and let the chips fall where they may.
  • Impossible to answer
    This question seems to vex a particular team every season. Do we rest players and get healthy for the playoffs? If we rest players, will they get rusty? The truth is that we will never know the answer to this puzzle. There is evidence to support both arguments.

    However, I know that the Colts run one of the most professional organizations in any industry. They have to figure this out on their own and we have to be confident in their decision. Personally, I lean towards going for it!
  • You Play to Win the Game
    The foundational premise of Jim's thinking should always be winning the game with play of players based on long-term needs. Shared revenue in the NFL affords the Colts its share of licensing except in at-retail in this market and Lucas Oil Stadium, and local sponsorship sales. Is the "eight-figure sum" projection based on a percentage of revenue increase or how calculated?

  • Midweek?
    since when is monday midweek? That is when Caldwell anounced that all heathly players would play and the colts were treating week 14 like the previous 13 weeks. Seems like you are trying to paint Irsay and Manning has motivated only by greed.
  • Adam,

    I was thinking Anthony was being a little harsh.

    The one thing no one mentioned is if (God Forbid) Peyton gets a season ending injury (God Forbid) then how smart does the Colts leadership look? Franchise gone because of greed. It is a tough call, i am glad I do not have to make it.

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