They are littered all over sports: outspoken owners whose behavior oftentimes pilfers the spotlight away from their own team. For the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay fits the bill quite well.
The Colts certainly have not needed any help making the news over the last couple of seasons—the changing of the guard from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck to be specific—but Irsay has done his part in assuring Indianapolis remains relevant regardless.
Whether you consider Irsay's tiff with Manning prior to last year's Super Bowl as the point when the owner's antics became noteworthy (via NYDailyNews.com), the bigger question is whether or not his actions should be seen as more of a distraction rather than being beneficial to the organization's goals.
Irsay's method of dealing with certain topics may come off as futile. But until there is a direct negative repercussion in the standings, any criticism of the owner seems just as fruitless.
In fact, Irsay appears to have the Colts' best interest in mind when making the tough calls as the organization moves forward. If that meant parting ways with Manning after the quarterback helped re-establish the franchise, Irsay made sure was he was out in front of the situation as the Manning era came to an end.
Andrew Luck was Manning's heir apparent and led the Colts to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance in 2012. This, after Indianapolis won just two games the previous season while Manning recovered from neck surgery.
Though his dealings with specific team matters could appear brash, Irsay certainly isn't one to disregard what it actually takes to run a team. Not as out front as Jerry Jones in Dallas obviously, but this is simply a case of a hands-on owner doing his job—not to mention that Irsay likes to keep fans in the loop with his adoration of Twitter.
Jim Irsay @JimIrsay
ColtFans,we already past the cap cash wise/ we're workin on a deal,1 we've been workin on for 5 days/ we're very,very close 2 making it work2013-3-17 01:43:37
Jim Irsay @JimIrsay
Colt Fans,hint------ it's a Wide Receiver!!2013-3-17 04:09:50
The Colts did sign former Oakland Raiders wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey a couple weeks later.
Prior to last year's draft, Irsay made it a point to let fans know that Indianapolis was indeed "rebuilding" again (tribstar.com).
@JimIrsay Yikes...As a smart guy I would let the fans find that out through their own research. #colts #justsayin2012-4-18 17:40:30
While some criticized Irsay for suggesting it could take time for the Colts to return to form, why can't this be chalked up to the owner's respect for the fanbase that actually lines his pockets?
Brad Wells of the SB Nation site, StampedeBlue.com, gives his take of Irsay's recent clash with Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio—even calling the owner a "yutz" in how he has handled his Twitter account.
Irsay, however, has also used his social media to run various contests for fans—specifically this one vowing to pay a large sum of cash to anyone who guessed the final score of the AFC Championship Game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots back in January (via USA Today).
Jim Irsay @JimIrsay
Again,$8500 for winner of Pats/Rave,exact score with 1 point cushion for both teams for final score/1 guess only by 630pm EST/Abby's hatpick2013-1-20 21:40:57
While there are countless other instances where Irsay has possibly out-shined his own team, the fact that Indianapolis didn't miss a beat on the field last season is more of an indictment on how he goes about his business behind closed doors than his fervor to doodle around on social media.
If the decision to go all-in with Andrew Luck had backfired, the condemnation would make sense here. But the Colts quickly returned to their winning form and should endure similar success in 2013 and beyond.
Indianapolis flourished under Manning in large part due to Irsay's commitment to building a fitting roster around his quarterback; that same approach is off to a solid start under Luck.
When his antics begin to detract from that plan, let the scolding commence. Until then, what Irsay does on the side should be brushed off.
Interact with Jeremy on Twitter Follow @KCPopFlyBoy