<
>

If it's Broncos-Colts, then Irsay wants to talk Manning-Luck

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- If it's the week before a Denver Broncos-Indianapolis Colts game, it must be time for Colts owner Jim Irsay to publicly weigh in on the franchise's decision to cut Peyton Manning just before selecting Andrew Luck with the first pick of the 2012 draft.

Last year, just before Manning's first game as a Broncos quarterback in Indianapolis -- Oct. 20, 2013, a Colts' 39-33 win -- in an interview with long-time NFL writer Jarrett Bell, Irsay lamented the Colts won just one Super Bowl in Manning's 14 seasons and 11 playoff trips with the team.

At the time Irsay told Bell; "You make the playoffs 11 times, and you're out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love (the ring)."

Irsay took to Twitter shortly after the story appeared and tried to explain himself, offering he meant to say if the Colts had assembled better defensive and special teams units the team would have won more titles in Manning's tenure. But Broncos head coach John Fox felt strongly enough to fire back on a national radio program in the days that followed.

This time around Irsay, who has taken a more measured public stance around the team since his league-mandated six-game suspension earlier this season, spoke in a rare interview setting Tuesday at the Colts complex, five days before his team faces Manning and the Broncos in an AFC divisional round game.

Tuesday, in his comments to Indianapolis media, Irsay lauded Manning's release and Luck's selection as a win-win proposition for both players and both the Broncos and Colts.

"To me, it's been tremendous that my vision at the time was it would work out this way, that Peyton would be able to go somewhere, continue his greatness, continue his career," Irsay said. "We would be able to go forward with Andrew. Again, having the type of success we've had so soon I think was a surprise to me."

The Colts have now made three consecutive playoff appearances with Luck at quarterback with three consecutive 11-win seasons. Irsay also went on to compare Luck to former Broncos quarterback great and current executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway.

"(Luck's) magic, when you watched him in college, when the play breaks down, in that half a second, he does things that are so innate and so unusual; that's when the magic happens," Irsay said. "He just decides in a split second, and he has the athletic and the physical skills to do that with his arm strength, with his feet. So really the sky is the limit. You hate to bring up comparisons with John being there running their program and stuff, but John was that way of course at Denver."