Gregg Doyel: Discovering Jim Irsay's private side — a heart of gold
The video is staggering. The Jim Irsay video. No, not that one. Not the one of Irsay being pulled over in March by Carmel police, teetering on shaky and withered legs before being led away in handcuffs.
Well, that video was staggering too.
But that's not the one I'm talking about. I'm talking about the video of Irsay in the Colts locker room this past Sunday, receiving a game ball from coach Chuck Pagano after the victory against Cincinnati in Irsay's first game back after a six-game suspension for the March DUI.
Pagano is talking up Irsay and blinking away tears. Irsay is bawling. The players are watching, not because they have to, but because they want to. Because they adore Jim Irsay, and this is a special moment for the man who does more than write their checks.
The video is staggering because the emotion is so raw, not just from Pagano and Irsay but from the players. And also because of something Pagano says as he's handing a football to Irsay, something about Irsay's heart of gold, and how everyone in the room has seen it for themselves.
I saw that video and knew I had to write this story, after asking as many Colts as I could: Have you seen Irsay's heart of gold? Share it with me. Let me share it with others. Let's show the world another side of Irsay — not the side of him that is lampooned for tweeting melodramatically and ungrammatically, and not the side that was shown on the cruiser camera. The world knows those sides. The world has made cruel sport of those sides.
The world should see this side, too. So tell me, I say to Colts cornerback Greg Toler. Tell me about Jim Irsay.
"My first day here," Toler says, nodding. "I come here, sign my contract, and there's [Irsay]. He's walking down the hall and introduces himself and says he's happy I'm here. Everybody else wants to know about my so-called history of injuries, but he doesn't ask about that. He asks about my family and my kids. He wants to know their names. What owner does that?"
This one. So tell me about it, defensive lineman Cory Redding. You've been here since 2012. Show me Irsay's heart.
"Man, look around the corner," Redding says from his locker, and so around the corner I go. There's a hot tub big enough for the starting offense. There's a cold tub big enough for the defense. To get there I walk across thick carpet, past lockers made of cherry wood and brass.
"Mr. Irsay asked us what we needed," Redding says. "We had three little ice baths about this big" — Redding holds his hands a few inches apart — "and we told him we needed more room. He cleared out the area and got it done. Look at this locker room, what he's done for us. He spares no expense. And you come in here around Christmas-time and there's a present in every locker. That's special, bro. That's awesome."
None of this is news to Colts fans. More than 250,000 of you follow Irsay on Twitter and see his stream of giveaway tweets, offering tickets or hats or even $100. You read The Star, listen to the radio, hear the Jim Irsay stories they're not hearing in other cities.
For example, the time in 2003 Irsay heard about a man in Pensacola, Fla., whose pet dog went missing and six weeks later turned up 1,400 miles away — in Indianapolis. Irsay was flying that week to Mississippi, so he scooped up the dog, fed it a steak prepared by St. Elmo's and flew South in his private jet. When Irsay deplaned in Mississippi, he sent the dog and his jet on to Pensacola to be reunited with the owner. ...more at link below...