Irsay can't leave fans feeling they've been fooled again

March 2, 2012
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If the 2009 NFL season taught the Indianapolis Colts brass anything, it’s that their fans have long memories, and they can be pretty unforgiving when they feel they’ve been robbed of something and are taken for granted.

Many Colts fans are still fuming about team officials’ decision not to go for the perfect season in 2009. To this day, they’re still not shy about voicing their displeasure about that call to essentially tank a home game versus the N.Y. Jets.

That ember flared up into a mini-firestorm this year as the Colts were trying hard to win meaningless late-season games and essentially throw away the overall No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

Back in 2009, Colts fans were burned just as much because then Colts President Bill Polian didn’t seem to care about their desires for an undefeated season. A few said they were so rankled, they turned their back on the team.

Colts fans clearly don’t like getting played. That’s why Colts officials would be smart at this point to wait right up until the last minute on March 8 to announce their plans concerning quarterback Peyton Manning.

Colts owner Jim Irsay must either pay Manning $28 million by March 8—renegotiate his contract—or cut him loose. There is widespread speculation that the Colts will cut the future Hall of Famer.

Coincidently—or not—Colts fans had until today to pay for season ticket renewals for the 2012 season.

Either way, any other maneuver besides waiting until the 11th hour is merely going to look like they were waiting for the season ticket renewal deadline to pass before making the announcement.

Some season ticket holders told IBJ in mid February that they were holding out to see what the team would do with Manning before deciding whether or not to renew their season tickets. A proclamation about Manning’s future today or Monday would look especially fishy.

Colts Senior Vice President Pete Ward told IBJ that the timing of an announcement regarding Manning has nothing to do with the season ticket renewal date.

“There’s absolutely nothing to that,” Ward said. “Those two things are totally unrelated. The renewal date has always been March 1.”

Still, the appearance of a decision on Manning coming in such close proximity to the season ticket renewal deadline would not look good. That very topic turned up on several local sports talk radio stations this week.

Colts fans aren’t the only ones focused on the issue. One local sports talk host said Colts executives called to try to quell the flames of the discussion.

At least by waiting until March 8, the Colts can claim they needed every last minute to take in more data (though I’m not sure how much more can be divined since they can’t watch Manning throw), make the right decision or try to work out a deal to keep Manning here.

Of course if Andrew Luck is drafted No. 1 by the Colts and turns out to be as good as people think and the team returns to power, all will be forgiven no matter what happens.

But if things somehow go sideways with the team’s future, the dragging out of the Manning decision—and the perception that the team was waiting until after the season ticket renewal deadline—would be one more piece of kindling on a fire lit by fans’ fury.

And Irsay could find his season ticket waiting list, along with a lot of the goodwill he's banked during better days, burns up like paper in fire.


  • My thoughts exactly...
    Great piece. As a season ticket holder these were my thoughts exactly. I renewed my tickets no matter what happens but if it appears that Irsay was attempting to pull more season ticket revenue it will look terrible. Not to mention all of the "incentives" the Colts have offered to renew early (Superbowl tickets, trip to New York) Where were those incentives in prior years?
  • I am a season ticket holder and do not care about when Irsay does what. It is his team and he has shown he has the best interest of the team as a priority. As a season ticket holder, that works for me.

    While I would love to see Peyton come back and play for a couple more years, I am excited to see Luck. I can say I saw Peyton begin his illustrious career with the Colts and I am looking forward to saying the same about Luck.

    I think the press needs to let this go until there is new info to report. And I don't mean Peyton is seen sunning in Miami or Archie is catching a plane to NY. I realize the press is always digging, but it comes across as the press creating news, not reporting it.
  • Wrong Question
    OK let's assume season ticket renewal has always been March 1st since the Colts came to town - the question I have not seen asked is why March 8th? Where did this date come from in PM's contract? Is this a standard date for all roster bonuses? I'll assume the Colts are being honest about March 1st as soon as somebody explains the reason for picking the March 8th date.
    • Answer
      As a season ticket holder since 1999 the renewal date has always been early March and usually the 1st or 2nd day of the month.

      This was NOT a date created to ensure ticket sales. How on earth would Irsay or anyone else predict the sequence of events that have led to this situation back when the contract was signed in July? They thought he was going to be healthy. Then had the fusion surgery in September and the Colts go 2-14 and get the top pick in the draft.

      The contract was structured the way it is now in order to spread the $28M option bonus over the entire length of the contract as March 8th is still in the 2011 league year. The 2012 league year starts shortly thereafter and if the option bonus was scheduled to be paid in the new league year the cap hit would be spread over the remaining 4 years of the deal instead of the entire 5. In real #'s $5.6M of the $28M option would be allocated to the 2011 cap and each year thereafter vs. $7M over the final 4 years if the option was paid in the 2012 league year.

      The contract was basically a one year deal with a 4 year option. If the option is exercised Manning essentially gets the rest of his contract guaranteed unless he retires.

      Therefore, in order to exercise the option, the Colts have to be 100% sure he's healthy and will stay that way over the remaining length of the contract or their cap will be wrecked for years to come. I dont' think they can take that gamble regardless of how Manning is progressing at this point.

      This contract was a very pro Manning deal and will have to be re-worked considerably to even consider keeping him for a few more years.
    • Like this article
      Not necessarily an Indy fan, but liked the article. Let Irsay move "on" (oh right, stuck with him), Indy has what they have because of...? Andrew Luck thinks he is elite, let him prove it. You can tell by his eye contact (or lack thereof) in interviews - he does not want to play with or behind Manning.

      Who needs Manning? Even Manning at 75% is better than more than half the QB's in the NFL. Where should he go? Oh, fans all over are so wanting him to leave Indy. Let's see:

      Whose NFL defense is ready & has a QB holding them back the past few yrs? HUM.....
      49rs (no boy coach's ego couldn't stand Peyton); KC waiting and ready (maybe Cassel could really learn something this time around-Brady not known for "mentoring" skills, Orton not); Seattle basically ready (needs a leader -starting with the head coach, however); Miami defense almost ready; Denver ready (TBow would continue to learn); AZ (Cobb too arrogant...he is elite too from his head down to his TOE)poor Fitz; Baltimore has been ready for a while as have the Jets; Cleveland just needs to shore up their offensive line - good QB now & backup....and the list goes on. $$ a real issue for Manning who wants to PLAY...Come On, Man.

      Bid the Indy fan/s farewell PMan - you are on your way to much more. Try to pick an owner who can shut up for once, however. Oh, take some of those winning teammates....they want to follow the that 6th round WR who fans all love watching play, too.
    • wrong question
      now that is the truth ware did this 8th day date come from and has this been asked and denied or a no comment lol

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