Monday, March 24, 2014
Pagano on Irsay: 'We miss him, love him'
By Mike Wells
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Faith. Family. Football.
Those are the three things Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay constantly preaches to those in the organization. Those three things have strong ties to Irsay today and will tomorrow and in the future.
The faith has to be there that Irsay can overcome his unfortunate addiction. There's no better time than now for Irsay's immediate family and football family to stick by him as he works his way through rehabilitation. And at some point, many hope sooner rather than later, Irsay will be back running his football team on a day-to-day basis.
"We're going to support Jim no matter what and the biggest thing, No. 1, is his well-being, just getting healthier," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said in between sessions at the NFL owners meetings Monday. "We miss him, love him, wish he was here with us. But again, like I said, I'm not the only guy who would take a bullet for this man."
Irsay isn't at the owners meetings. His daughter Carlie Irsay-Gordon is in Orlando, Fla., representing the franchise while her father is at a health-care facility.
"My whole family's prayers are going for him," Arizona Cardinals coach and former Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said. "Let's hope he comes back strong."
Irsay faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance after being arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel late March 16.
"Anyone who knows Jim Irsay [knows he] is a good guy," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "He's a kind man, he's well-intentioned, and he's in my prayers. What's happened to him has not changed my opinion of him."
The Colts say they'll be fine with the day-to-day operations while Irsay is in rehab. Truth be told, they'll miss him. Irsay isn't one of those hands-on owners who's always meddling in things, but general manager Ryan Grigson uses his owner as a sounding board. That's not surprising considering Irsay was the Colts' general manager from 1984 to 1993.
Arians recalls Irsay coming out to practice every Thursday when he was the team's interim coach while Pagano battled leukemia in 2012 and they'd walk off the field together talking about a wide range of subjects.
"I don't care which game it was, which year it was, which player it was, schematically, offense, defensive philosophy, he knows it inside and out," Pagano said. "He's been around it forever and ever. He's got a bright eye for not only talent, but everything else he has to do to run a successful program."