INDIANAPOLIS —"Find an excuse to win."
That's the Indianapolis Colts' team motto for the 2016 season, and it comes straight from the top.
And for team Owner Jim Irsay, that motto will be top of mind this week, when the Colts travel to London to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"Anyone can find an excuse why you can't get it done," Irsay said. "But you have to find an excuse to win, meaning that, you overcome the adversity and you find a way to get it done."
Irsay, speaking earlier this month to 1070 The Fan at the Pete And Alice Dye Championship 2016 three-hole golf tournament to benefit Autism Speaks and The First Tee of Indiana, clearly hasn't forgotten the Colts' last road game against the Jaguars, a 51-16 blowout loss in Week 14 last season.
In that game, the Colts saw the Jaguars quickly turn a 13-9 halftime deficit into a 42-3 run in the second half, thanks in large part to quarterback Blake Bortles (16-of-30 for 250 yards and three touchdowns, with another touchdown on the ground) and the Jacksonville running game, which racked up 154 total yards on the ground.
That game also saw backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck — who to that point had guided the Colts back into the playoff conversation in place of an injured Andrew Luck — go down to injury.
So while going overseas is a terrific opportunity for the Colts' franchise and its fanbase, the trip to London — the team leaves on Thursday — is hardly about the sights and the sounds that come with it.
"We could go to London anytime for a vacation," Irsay said. "My mantra to our football team and our players and coaches is this is a road division game. A game that we got our butts kicked last year in, badly, a game against a divisional team that's on the rise that's used to playing there."
Indeed, the Jaguars have been the NFL's constant presence in London over the past few years, having played there every season since 2013. Jacksonville earned its first win in International Series play last year, defeating the Buffalo Bills, 34-31, at Wembley Stadium — the site of the team's Week 4 matchup against Indianapolis this year.Future London team?
Irsay also discussed the possibility of the NFL having a permanent franchise in London, something he believes could happen by 2025.
The logistics of such a move still obviously have to be worked out — things like the team's headquarters, how the London team and its opponents would handle travel, etc. — but it's something that Irsay says is certainly a top priority for the league, which continues to try to grow the game in foreign markets.
"I've talked to some owners that, you know, you have to have the financial means to do it — you have to have a base in America, a full training camp base in America, a base in London, the league has to work with the scheduling," Irsay said. "But I think it can be done, and I think it would be really exciting."
Last year, the Colts went ahead and volunteered to play in London in the 2016 season, and hoped they wouldn't lose a home game in the process. Those plans ended up working out when the league announced they would be playing the Jaguars in what is being considered a "home game" for Jacksonville.
So if the league one day does decide to place a team in London, this year's game for the Colts will be a terrific opportunity to figure out all the planning that goes with such a trip.
"It's exciting to go to London, play the game, get the Horseshoe, get our brand over in Europe," Irsay said. "It's something that's good and where the league is headed, so we're excited about going there.
"But we want to win the game, obviously."