Pagano explains Irsay game ball

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts Chuck Pagano had options on who to give the game ball to after their victory Sunday over Denver.

Quarterback Andrew Luck for his four touchdowns -- three throwing and one running. Linebacker Robert Mathis, who sacked Peyton Manning twice. Stanley Havili for causing a turnover on special teams.

But Pagano decided owner Jim Irsay deserved the ball.

Here's Pagano's explanation:

"I think he earned it. What I told the team, I don't think I'd be standing here today without the support of Jim Irsay and what I went through and what he did for me and what he did for my family. The way he feels about his team and the way he feels about his players, past and present, is what I said. He would do anything. The guy has a heart of gold. When he talks about faith, family and football, it does not bury. It's in that order. Again, he will do anything and everything for anybody in this organization and that locker room, players that have been here in the past, players that are here now. He gives us every opportunity, everything we need, to be successful and to win on the field. Coaches, players, it doesn't matter. He's the best there is in the National Football League. It was just a way for us to thank him for his support."

Irsay was heavily criticized by some for his comments in the USA Today article that ran early last week on how he wants to build the franchise in the post-Manning years. Irsay got the last laugh -- and the game ball -- after the Colts beat the Broncos.

  • The Colts released tight end Dominique Jones from the active roster Tuesday, opening up a roster spot. Filling the spot with a receiver is obviously an option. The Colts also released fullback Robert Hughes.