This is big. About as big as it gets for those that seek to create “BIG”. Future Hall of Fame quarterback returns for the first time to face his old team, where a younger version of himself ignites renewed passion in a fan base not used to going 2-14 only two seasons earlier. Social media engaged owner makes what he feels to be a benign comment regarding the changes he gave blessing to, only to have those comments explode in a twisted spin of controversy.
New coach (the opponent’s) takes the spin to the next level by using it as a media driven motivational tool to fire up his own fan base and whomever else he might have pointed his comments towards. National media grabs the story line and runs with it, many not bothering to even read the context of the original comments and not really caring that they didn’t.
Yep, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay flipped his Twitter switch on at the start of the week and has now created a sideshow to what should be a pretty good show this Sunday at Lucas Oil Field when the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning take on the Colts. I was asked as a former GM if this type of thing bothered my when an owner goes off on his own and makes statements that might inflame the passions of the opponent. “Not at all,” I replied. “There’s really only one individual, or group of individuals in the case of a family owned team, that matter in the NFL and that’s the owner. The rest of us are just interchangeable parts.”
I suppose from the inside of an NFL franchise it’ll always be assumed that your boss can say what he or she wants, after all it’s their team to start with. But from the outside, running any competitive business venture requires skilled use of social media from a public relations perspective. So I turned to Gail Sideman’s professional viewpoint for a “fair and balanced” assessment of Irsay’s tweet. Needless to say we saw things a bit different from the inside out.
The Football Educator
Colts owner fails the big game PR test
There are times when someone just shouldn’t speak. If tempted, zip it.
Are you reading this, Jim Irsay?
Irsay is a football team owner. He’s not a player, not a coach and not someone who in most circumstances, has to comment more than a public-relations appropriate, “We love(d) our players and we look forward to his play.” Period.
The owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Irsay is most always outspoken. There are some times, however, when even a man of his stature should keep his thoughts to himself if he doesn’t want a unnecessary distraction before his former franchise quarterback returns to the city wearing another team’s jersey.
So, what did Irsay quip that has had media abuzz the last two days? Many of us aren’t quite sure. We know that some of it referenced former Colts’ and current Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning. Maybe it was about Patriots QB, Tom Brady and his three Super Bowl rings. Was it a slight on Manning? The masses seem to think so. At least media does. Speculation is making for a story angle that keeps on giving.
Rules of Sports PR
Among the top rules of sports PR: if you’re going to say something, be sure it’s coherent and certainly not subliminal, as you head toward one of the most anticipated games of the NFL season.
“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 this,” Irsay said to USA TODAY reporter, Jarrett Bell.
Of course media grabbed these and every other morsel from Bell’s story – as well as Irsay’s “clarification,” later. If I’m an advising publicity agent for Irsay’s team, I bury my head in my hands then quickly grab one of the Size L fire extinguishers stashed in the closet.