Lucas Oil Stadium, 2008 Season Focus of Sponsors Luncheon
INDIANAPOLIS – There were laughs, an appearance by one of the NFL's most recognizable on-air personalities, and a lot of talk about the 2008 season.
Those were some of the highlights of the 2008 Colts Kickoff Luncheon.
Another was a topic that is discussed around the Colts a lot these days:
Lucas Oil Stadium.
Jim Irsay, the Colts' Owner and Chief Executive Officer, was among the Colts officials, players and coaches who spoke Friday afternoon to the crowd at the kickoff luncheon at the Westin in downtown Indianapolis. He spoke of his excitement for the 2008 season, its prospects and his hopes.
He spoke, too, of this being a memorable time.
And he said the state-of-the-art facility in downtown Indianapolis is a huge reason.
"Obviously, this year is a special year for us," Irsay said at the kickoff luncheon, which featured longtime ESPN NFL broadcaster Chris Berman as the keynote speaker.
"I couldn't be more excited about getting in Lucas Oil Stadium. I continually take the opunity to thank so many people – our players and coaches, (Colts President) Bill Polian and his staff, our sponsors and everyone that has been behind us. It was a long process and it worked out beyond any of our expectations.
"I look at it like it's the eighth wonder of the world. It's just really special to be part of this community, to see what it was like in 1984, to be all around the greater Indianapolis area and to see how it has changed. We couldn't be more excited."
Said Colts President Bill Polian, "It's a culmination of so many dreams. When Jim and I first got together 11 years ago, our goal was to win a Super Bowl, multiple Super Bowls, be a competitive team in the National Football League every year and hopefully, to solidify the future of the franchise here in Indianapolis. All of that has been done."
Polian, entering his 11th season as the Colts' President, introduced Berman and followed Irsay among those speaking. He also mentioned that the last three Super Bowl winners – Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and the New York Giants – have shared a particular characteristic.
"It is one thing – committed, dedicated, football people as owners," Polian said. "That's where it all starts. In many ways, that's where it starts and ends. We are very fortunate to have a dedicated football man in our owner in Jim Irsay. That's the single biggest reason why we win."
The Colts, who have qualified for the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons, have won the last five AFC South titles and have set an NFL record by winning 12 or more games in five consecutive seasons. This season, Polian said the AFC Champion may not win more than 13 games.
"I'm not sure that 10-6 could not be a team that can win the Super Bowl," Polian said. "It's a long way to go and perseverance is the watchword. We have to fight through a lot of hurdles, but we have the manpower and the leadership and the courage to do it, I'm sure."
Berman spoke for several minutes, telling stories of nearly three decades at ESPN and of a close relationship with Polian, Irsay and Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy. He then interviewed Dungy, who spoke of his expectations for the 2008 season.
"I'm excited for a couple of reasons," Dungy said. "I like where we are in terms of team unity. That's always important to me. I think the guys who were here last year were disappointed by that (loss to) San Diego in the playoffs. We felt like we went a long way and did not play our best at the end. We worked hard since that game and are excited to come out and see if we can get ourselves back in that position and finish the season up right."
Said Irsay, "For me, it's about winning and winning the right way. It's about championships. That's the thing that really drives me. As we go forward into this year, we're going to be challenged again. No matter what you've done, the challenge is coming right back at you. We have to be tough-minded. We have to be focused and we have to continue to work on the things that make us better as an organization. It's a long road, a long season, a lot of ups and downs. I talk about that tough-mindedness. That's what we have to do, not rest on our laurels. I'm looking forward to competing and winning.
"We have a great football team and it's going to be a great year. This team has been a special team. I feel really blessed to be a part of the kind of people we have in our organization."