Jim Irsay and Chris Polian Quotes

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (opening remarks) “Good afternoon. (I) just wanted to have a chance to talk.


"Good afternoon. (I) just wanted to have a chance to talk. All you guys have had media requests on the activities of the last week in terms of the labor front with the league and all the issues that involve the Colts and the NFL. Obviously, I was disappointed when negotiations broke off on Friday and the union chose to decertify. That was disappointing to me. I believe this thing is going to get done through mediation, through negotiation, not through lawyers. At the same time and moving forward, it's March 14, it's not August 14. I have great optimism that we can have a great season, that we'll have the Super Bowl here and all of sorts of things, but you can't just say, 'I'm optimistic,' and magically things get done. There's a lot of heavy lifting to do. There are a lot of negotiations that need to be done to get this deal done going forward. We are hoping to get back to the point where we can get a deal done."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on if the daily basis in the building is that of preparation for a season to be played)

"Definitely. In meeting with our organization, my focus on every single employee is about getting ready for a great year. We're not going to furloughs, layoffs, pay cuts, or any of those sorts of things. My focus is, and the organization's focus, is on the draft, on the season and the Colts being as good as they possibly can be – navigating through a year that's different, obviously. That's what our focus is on. Spirits are high in this building. It's a special year for us (in) having the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl really comes down to it's about the city and the state. It's not about the Colts, it's much bigger than that. We're all excited about showing the world what Indianapolis and Indiana is about. We're focused on those things."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on commenting on the suit filed by the players, including QB-Peyton Manning)

"I don't take those sorts of things personally. Obviously, Peyton (Manning), Jeff Saturday, they're very close friends of mine. This is not about, 'Us against them.' However, I do believe when the lawyers get involved and you get away from mediation, you get away from negotiation, it's not productive. With that being said, last Friday we were left with no one to negotiate with. That's not something that's going to get this thing done. We need to return to that (mediation and negotiation) and move away from litigation."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on how do you address fans who think this all about greed)

"I know this, my responsibility, and I will say Roger Goodell, our Commissioner, his responsibility, is about the fans, the integrity of the game and all those sorts of things. I know people who have influenced me, whether it's George Halas, Art Rooney, Wellington Mara, Lamar Hunt, again you have a business situation (and) it's tough negotiations. You want to have the ability to get those negotiations done, and they become very public because of the interest in the game. That's a real weight on everyone, players and owners realizing there's a frustration level when this becomes so public. I expected the media coverage and the intensity to be there because of the interest in our game. It's not about greed. It's easy to go to that place. It's easy to be a cynic. It's easy to say a lot of different things. In any business negotiation, you're going to have some tough roads and some tough negotiations. In our case, it becomes very public. I just know where my intention is, where my heart is. When I make decisions in terms of my vote of one of 32 (owners), I know my intention is to keep that very much in mind as we move forward."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on if it was strange not to have players around today)

"I think it's something that's different. At the same time, we all as the Indianapolis Colts know our obligation to get ready for a great season. I talk about going through these things (labor situations) in the past. Chris Hinton (in 1987) had a hood on, had a towel on his fist and punched the (replacement player) bus window through and we talk about it today and hug each other. That relationship with all present and past players with me is extremely close. You don't like to see those sorts of situations develop. I think we had time to prepare for this unusual environment, so to speak. My disappointment was on Friday. I really thought when we came with that offer and came to the table, I had a lot of optimism we were going to keep negotiations, keep mediation and maybe get down that road of getting something done sooner than later. Obviously, there was a disappointment there, a different environment sets, but it is March 14. There has to be an urgency and optimism is there, but optimism alone doesn't get it done. You have to get back and do the different work of negotiating."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on reports that draft eligible players are being asked not to attend the NFL Draft)

"I haven't heard anything along those lines. There were rumors along those lines right before the Combine…I really don't know. A lot of these rumors and speculation, it's going to be out there, but I am not aware of where it stands."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on how far apart the two sides)

"We have our differences, but really feel there is a framework for a deal. It's always tough when you try to get everything done from a large perspective and then tie up the details with it. I was disappointed on Friday because I really felt when we came with another proposal, and that sort of thing, that we really had a chance to continue to mediate, negotiate and do the things that get a deal done. There's work to be done. It can get done, but it's not going to done through the courts."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on how he does not let it become personal with the prominent positions C-Jeff Saturday and QB-Peyton Manning have in the negotiations and litigation) Monday, March 14, 2011

"I think through my business career, not only in football but in many other interests, that happens sometimes. You have people that you know well, whether it's real estate, banking, investments, and you have disagreements and there is contention and those sorts of things. What I don't like to see is some fringe people move in, legal people move in, that all of a sudden start trying to direct the process, because I don't think it's going to get done with lawyers and courtrooms. I think it's going to get done with negotiations. It's a process. I mentioned back in the 1980s what we went through and all those sorts of things, but it's not something that is personal. It's tough, and you've got to get things resolved. This is a theatre that is very public, obviously, in terms of the intense interest of our game, which is natural, but you get something done, you shake hands and that's the way you move forward, not with resentment but with unity. I know that day will come and we'll move forward as we have in other decades."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on if he's had a chance to talk to C-Jeff Saturday or QB-Peyton Manning) Monday, March 14, 2011

"We communicate. Jeff and I, we have a very close relationship. He has been there a lot more in Washington and been right in the center of things. Jeff, the relationship that we have is about as close as it gets. I have respect for him. He has respect for me. We always knew this was going to be tough. The bottom line is that everyone is trying to negotiate and get a deal that is best for them. It's something that I don't take personal. The emotional aspect of it, it can get a lot tougher when you're up there in person, right at the table, day-to-day. People get tired, emotions run high. All of our players, I know, we have the same interest. That interest still comes down to saying as soon as we know who our opening game is and who it is against, that's where the focus is, on winning that game. We're tending to these macro issues, but we have to be focused on the season to have a great year."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on with the prospect of a shortened season, is he concerned about the impact on the state of Indiana) Monday, March 14, 2011

"I think optimism alone doesn't cut it, but I think that prospect is too premature to really start saying we are going to have a shortened season. It's March 14. I know to project and to try and guess what is going to happen is a natural thing where people go to, but I'm much more in the moment. We want to have a full season, and we want to get something done. I'm not, at this point, looking at that as something that is going to happen. But like I said, optimism alone doesn't get it done. You have to get back and continue to reexamine your positions and negotiate. I think the mediation process was very helpful. It's something that we look forward to getting back to soon."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on when is the earliest he thinks they'll be able to get back to negotiating) Monday, March 14, 2011

"Well, I think it takes two to tango. Right now, we have no one to negotiate with. I hope it's as soon as possible. I don't know when that time will be at this point, though."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on at what point do both sides have an economic reason to get back to the table and be really serious about it) Monday, March 14, 2011

"I think urgency always gets these things done and that's what drives negotiations. I do think there is a real need to get things done sooner. Like the question was said (earlier), a shortened season and this thing dragging into early September, you don't want to get there. The problem is there is collateral economic damage. No one is ever going to make that money up again. It's gone. I think it's really critical to realize that it can even make it tougher to get a deal done because you have those sorts of dynamics in place. I really think it's something you want to really set your mind onto urgency as of now. I know that we did, that the commissioner did. I know he was intensely in there, trying to really say with the last offer on Friday, 'Let's really try to get something done sooner than later.' Unfortunately, we ended up on this path and now we have to find a way to get back to negotiating."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on if it is safe to say there will be no negotiating before the players' injunction is heard on April 6) Monday, March 14, 2011

"I can't speak on how these things change. As you guys know, they can change quickly. I know that right now, in terms of being decertified – and again you have to negotiate in good faith and you can't decertify with the intention of recertifying and doing it in that fashion. It's very clear that is something under law you can't do. I think we have to change that dynamic of focusing on courts and get back to mediation and negotiation. I don't know if that can happen before April 6. But anything can happen when the commissioner and DeMaurice Smith talk and decide to change some dynamics and get back to it. I'm hopeful that is going to be sooner than later."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on if he can envision any way the franchise tag is not deemed valid and if the courtroom rules you can't lock players out and you have to resume operations, and could the 2011 season uncapped like the previous year) Monday, March 14, 2011

"I think it's too early to anticipate anything, but I clearly have never seen a situation where the tag is in jeopardy. What sort of situation could develop as the chess pieces move, I don't want to project on that. I know this, that the number one dynamic is we want to get a long-term deal done for Peyton (Manning), offering him the highest contract that has ever been out there in the National Football League, past (New England QB-Tom) Brady and all those sorts of things. He has a huge involvement. We are together on this legacy and this journey. Indianapolis, he has a great love for it here. We have great respect for each other. This has been a win-win thing for both of us, in terms of him being provided with great coaching and leadership in the franchise with Bill Polian, Jim Mora, Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, etc. Again, I see things getting done. Certainly we are prepared for any scenario, but my feeling is we are going to have a great season, we are going to have a great Super Bowl and there is too much of a dynamic there for that not to happen for league, players, owners, everyone. That being said, it doesn't get done by itself. These things are done in arduous negotiations. Like I said, the mediator was a very positive thing for us."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on if a long strike could be economically damaging to certain franchises) Monday, March 14, 2011

"I don't know about jeopardy, but like I said before, there's a dynamic in place where everyone knows that we have differences, but there's no question about it that the National Football League is the greatest sports league in the world. It only makes sense that you find ways to resolve these differences and not have an event like that where it's damaging. But I can't speak for other owners and that sort of thing and their finances and personal wealth. I just know that we have to be smart enough that we get a deal done in a way that's done in a timely way that doesn't erode what you're able to decide to negotiate, split up, so to speak and that sort of thing."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on no furloughs or cuts planned, and if that's something for now or if that could change) Monday, March 14, 2011

"I try to stay focused in the now, and I just don't anticipate that sort of thing. My feeling is I'm interested in good morale around here. I look at someone who's making $40,000, $50,000 a year who has rent to pay, who has things to do, and I just can't see it for me as an owner to be asking them for anything. I think this is something that we need to work out. My emphasis is really, again, we need to keep spirits high within teams, certainly within the Colts organization. I think, again, meeting with all of our people, that's really emphasized, that I don't want their focus to be on that sort of worry. I want it to be on getting ready. Look, this is a special year for us. Hosting the Super Bowl, this is possibly a once-in-a-lifetime—and if not, very rare at least—opportunity for us. The new hotel is opening, the (J.W.) Marriot, the convention center, (the Super Bowl), how we do it and how we show the world how we do it certainly has an effect on getting other events, because I think, like I said, the Super Bowl is not as much of a Colts issue as it is for the city and state. We're really looking forward to making this a special year and being optimistic that we're going to get something done."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on if he gets a sense among other owners if his opinions are universal or if he has gone out and tried to lobby) Monday, March 14, 2011

"I think in general, in many conversations with fellow owners, that we're on the same page and we really are looking forward to getting something done. Like I said, you can be cynical and you can try to pick sides and you can say, 'Why is this going on at all?' The point is these things happen all the time in other industries. It's tough, but I know all of my fellow owners are of the same mindset. They have the realization that this is something that we need to negotiate and get done. I think that's pretty much shared by us all."

COLTS OWNER AND CEO JIM IRSAY (on if he is worried about backlash or alienating fans when one of the negotiating snags is over $9 billion in revenue when the public has to save money for tickets) Monday, March 14, 2011

"You always worry about that and you're sensitive to those things, but again, it's March 14, so we're talking about projection that it's something where we know it's going to be covered by the media, we know it's going to be intense and all those sorts of things. We know people, they're going to write their columns and try to write stuff that people want to read, and at the same time, you're very sensitive to that, and to project that sort of thing and fear is way too early to do. I talk about patience and letting the process unfold. Everyone should be able to have the tolerance to at least say, 'They're negotiating things and it's March 14.' If it gets into a different scenario and we're sitting here in October, then it's a different conversation. But of course you worry about it. It is about, as an owner, you know looking at all the fans…my dad and I sat in Wrigley Field in the '60s watching the Bears play, we were season ticket holders, know about that sort of thing and understand about people in our organization and their concerns about dealing with the financial concerns they have and what kind of salary they make. I always talk about it, you might think I end up getting too sentimental or whatever, but I talk about embracing my peasant roots. My grandparents came across Ellis Island, my grandmother was a poor inner-city maid, widow raising five kids in Chicago. And I'm talking my grandmother, not my great, great (grandmother). So you understand everyone's perspective, and at the same time, you can be involved in big business. You can be involved in greatness. You can be involved in being a steward and going through these types negotiations, but you have a responsibility. You have a responsibility to many different parties and so you take that very seriously. As you make your decisions and as you try to influence things, that's a thing that carries you from being in a very serious place. I know that intention is shared and I believe we'll get something done and things will be positive. But like I said, it's not going to happen by just saying it. We have to get back to negotiating."

COLTS VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER CHRIS POLIAN (on what preparations have been made regarding the lockout) Monday, March 14, 2011

"Basically we've to the best of our knowledge just tried to prepare for any eventuality. It's a very fluid situation, and as Jim had mentioned, a lot of it is being done out of our control. And both sides have to get together and put together a plan and a system of how things are going to work in the future. We do know a little bit of that from what was offered last Friday, which has been made public, but it's a fluid situation and we'll just try to be as prepared and as flexible as possible as we move forward."

COLTS VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER CHRIS POLIAN (on if they tried to talk to the players in advance of the lockout regarding preparations or staying in shape) Monday, March 14, 2011

"No, we just had our normal end-of-the-season meeting after the Jets game, and at that point, a lot of the offseason was addressed. The possibility of a possible work stoppage was addressed. We have done everything under the rules presented to us at this point and plan on doing that moving forward."

COLTS VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER CHRIS POLIAN (on having no contact with players) Monday, March 14, 2011

"No, all contact with players ceases. All player transactions cease."

COLTS VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER CHRIS POLIAN (and no contact with agents of players either?) Monday, March 14, 2011


COLTS VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER CHRIS POLIAN (on how difficult it is going forward) Monday, March 14, 2011

"Those are the cards dealt to us, and we'll do our best to be prepared however that they may fall and deal with the eventualities. Our focus has just been trying to be as prepared as we can to adjust to the rules as they come forth."

COLTS VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER CHRIS POLIAN (on if there is any way to track the rehabilitation process of players such as Dallas Clark) Monday, March 14, 2011

"Some things are in process in those regards under the rules that have been given to us."

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