ATLANTA—Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay on Monday afternoon addressed the media for the first time since his March arrest and insisted he’s ready to do everything he can to sway the other 31 NFL team owners to award the 2018 Super Bowl to Indianapolis.
“I haven’t been in a coma or anything like that,” Irsay told a throng of media at the Ritz-Carlton in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, where the NFL owners meetings are taking place. “I’ve been clued into everything that's been going on the last few months."
But Irsay declined to say anything about his arrest on March 16 for driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance. He also refused to talk about his personal life. And when ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio offered Irsay the chance to apologize to the Colts team and fans—and anyone else listening—Irsay refused to bite.
Irsay did say he is “feeling better” than he was just a few months ago. He looked like he had gained weight during a recent convalescence in a treatment facility, and had regained some color in his complexion.
“Physically I’m decent,” said Irsay, “I still have a ways to go. I’m not quite ready to hit the golf course yet. The hip and back are doing OK.”
Irsay was eager to talk about Indianapolis’ strengths as a Super Bowl host. When given his five minutes to address owners on Tuesday afternoon on why the city should host the 2018 Super Bowl, Irsay said he will “speak from the heart.”
Indianapolis, Minneapolis and New Orleans are bidding for the big game in 2018.
“I just believe we did such an incredible job last time [in 2012],” Irsay said. “We can’t guarantee the same weather, but we’re going to try.”
Irsay said he’ll emphasize to fellow owners that Indianapolis has already raised $31 million in corporate donations to run the 2018 Super Bowl. He called that effort, as well as the plans for an enhanced Super Bowl Village, “unprecedented.”
“It’s our track record,” said Irsay, flanked by Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward and Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, who are part of Indianapolis’ bid committee. “What we did, it was unparalleled. And we have more surprises up our sleeve.”
In addition, Irsay thinks former Colts center Jeff Saturday will have a big impact on team owners when he and Indiana Sports Corp. President Allison Melangton give the city’s 15-minute oral presentation Tuesday afternoon.
“He’s the type of guy that during a championship game and the ball’s on the ground, he’s going to fall on it,” Irsay said. “I really think we have the best bid and we have the people here to convey that.”