PALM BEACH, Fla. – Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay on Tuesday explained what he meant by "all chips in," a line he emphasized in a social media video earlier this offseason.
"It shouldn't be confused with what it means," Irsay said during the NFL Annual Meeting at The Breakers in Palm Beach. "What it means is it's an emotional, a mental commitment to excellence and greatness by anyone who's in the circle, coaches and players competitively. That's what it means. It's an attitude.
"I mean, Ronnie Lott, Ray Lewis, Walter Payton — those are all chip in guys. They played like that."
In Matt Ryan, Irsay feels like the Colts were able to acquire a quarterback who fits with the mentality he expects to see his team take on in 2022 and through the rest of the decade.
"That's what it's about," Irsay said. "Not everyone has that. The Peyton Mannings, the Tom Bradys, the Matt Ryans — I mean, these guys would've been Navy SEALs, they would've been astronauts if they weren't doing what they're doing. They're special guys.
"And of course they're given a special talent in they're 6-5 and 230 pounds or whatever, but put that aside, it takes way more than that. And they all have, as the movie says, all the right stuff. And you're looking for that guy and you have to have him at quarterback because it affects your whole roster in terms of leadership and everything else."
Irsay saw what that "all chips in" mentality can do for a team back in the 2000's, when he rattled off guys like Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney and Edgerrin James possessing that approach. But another guy who did is back on 56th Street now: Reggie Wayne, who the Colts hired earlier this year as wide receivers coach.
"I guy like Reggie Wayne brings so much — I mean, trust me, I've watched games with him," Irsay said. "He's so smart. Incredible vision and understanding of the game. Incredible. And also his work ethic, his expectation, how he understands the mental and the physical toughness, what it takes — I mean, he brings all those components to a young man that comes into us who might be 21 years old, and now he's got Reggie Wayne there to say, let me help you get your game up to where mine was.
"And so boy, he has an outstanding chance to make a big difference for us because that's how you have the great success. It's not one thing. Of course, when we had the great successes of the 2000s and Peyton Manning — of course Peyton Manning — but many other things had to be right. I mean Peyton Manning, he was completely right. In 2001 we only one six games, you know? I mean it takes a lot and key coaches that can inspire and lead and also have great knowledge of the game like Reggie has. It's a tremendous addition."
Fans in Indianapolis, of course, already love and appreciate Wayne – he's a should-be Hall-of-Famer who won a Super Bowl and has his name in the Colts' Ring of Honor. But with that similar mentality, Irsay believes Colts fans will quickly warm to Ryan as he quarterbacks the team in 2022 and beyond.
"I feel really excited about this football team," Irsay said. "I believe we can win a world championship, there's no doubt in my mind. And I have big belief in Matt Ryan.
"And I'm not being out on some limb or some seer trying to say that because of course you have big belief in Matt Ryan because he's Matt Ryan, you know what he's done, you know the history that he's had in the game, he's just 36 turning 37. And that's just fine at that position, coming in for a couple of years at least.
"And he keeps himself in great shape and he couldn't be more excited. What people forget too is that move just regenerates him and rejuvenates him. Matt's so excited about being in Indianapolis and he understands the great legacy at quarterback from (Johnny) Unitas to Bert Jones to Jim Harbaugh to Peyton, Andrew (Luck) and so he couldn't be more excited. And I know our fans are gonna love him."