INDIANAPOLIS — While the 60 minutes of each and every NFL game can be fast and furious, sometimes it's just pleasant to sit down, relax and have a nice chat.
That was in the cards for several members of the Indianapolis Colts organization on Thursday night, as it hosted its first-ever Town Hall Meeting at Butler University's Clowe's Hall.
The Colts held their first annual Town Hall meeting at Clowes Hall hosted by Matt Hasselbeck. Special guests included Chuck Pagaon, Chris Ballard, Jim Irsay, Carlie Irsay and a variety of current Colts players.
The event gave Jim Irsay and Carlie Irsay-Gordon of the team's ownership, COO Pete Ward and senior director of marketing Stephanie Pemberton, general manager Chris Ballard, head coach Chuck Pagano and a host of players a unique chance to meet with about 2,000 Colts season ticketholders and chat about all things Horseshoe.
In an offseason chock-full of of changes, many on hand Thursday were getting their first opportunity to really get a good sense of where the organization is headed — both on and off the field.
For Jim Irsay, however, the overall goal has never wavered.
"I've said it before – we're into plural Lombardis," Irsay told the crowd of the Super Bowl championship trophy named after legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. "That's what our goal is. And I'll be damned if we don't go out and get them."
So with that now crystal clear, let's check out the Top 10 team-related quotes from Thursday's event:
• "The offensive line is fixed. I'm telling you guys. The offensive line is fixed." — Jim Irsay, on the Colts' O-line, which has had its share of ups and downs the past few seasons. With a good mix of returning veterans as well as younger players who flashed down the stretch last season, the team has indicated it feels much better about where the offensive line is headed moving forward, however.
• "Andrew is healing tremendously. This (surgery) has been a positive thing, not a negative thing or anything like that. He was really struggling going through the process of being ready to play (for each week last season." — Irsay, on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who underwent surgery on his shoulder at the beginning of the offseason. While a definite timetable for Luck's return to on-field football activity is yet to be released, Irsay said he’s confident No. 12 will be back under center by Week 1 of the 2017 season.
• "Feeling great. Rehab's going very, very well. It's a long and patient process." — Luck, asked how his recovery has been going since undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder.
• "I just feel like that's our job. It's what everyone tries to do. Just try to stick to a routine, and I guess not having many interests outside of football helps in that sense." — Colts tight end Jack Doyle, asked about the infamous quote last year from a teammate that "Jack Doyle is Jack Doyle, because he's Jack Doyle." Doyle, who signed a multi-year deal this offseason, goes into the 2017 season at the team's No. 1 tight end for the first time in his career.
• "We've been back for eight weeks now, working to get back in shape and to get strong and get ready to go. And I think they can feel that. I think the excitement is starting to build. I think training camp is going to be a lot of fun this year because there's going to be some good changes and I know we're moving in the right direction." — Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, on the vibe he's feeling from the team in his now-22nd NFL season.
• "I'm just constantly rehabbing. Right now I feel like I'm ahead of pace from where I wanted to be at this time, and for me it's just constantly hitting rehab and making sure that when I come back, I come back to how I was before I had my injury." — Colts safety Malik Hooker, the team's first-round (15th overall) pick in this year's NFL Draft, on his status. Hooker, who underwent surgeries to repair a sports hernia and his hip earlier this year, is yet to hit the field for any football activities with the Colts, but hopes to be back and ready to go by training camp.
• "I mean, it's simple. Like you mentioned, there's a lot going on right now. But the guys, we're a pretty close-knit group right now. I know it's the offseason, and we've spent some time with each other, but as time goes on, we're going to continue to spend time with each other and learn things about the individuals that are in the room and see how this things unfolds. And once it unfolds, (it's) brotherhood." — Colts defensive end Kendall Langford, on the process of establishing a bond with his defensive teammates with so many changes on that side of the ball this offseason.
• "You learn very quickly when you come here that (we have) some of the more football-intelligent fans than any other stadiums. I mean, it's loud on third downs, it's quiet when we're on offense — you guys know what's going on. It's really cool to play in that type of atmosphere. … I would play every game at home if we could. I love it that much — I really do." — Luck, telling the fans in attendance what it means to play at Lucas Oil Stadium.
• "It's been hectic. But it's been good. Chuck and his staff are great to work with — easy to work with. Very open. Teaching me and the staff kind of exactly what they want. Fun to be in meetings; fun to kind of banter back and forth about players. I mean, look, we don't always agree — and you shouldn't always agree. If everybody's agreeing, then most likely we've done something wrong. So it's been good, and it's been fun to be around all those guys." — Colts general manager Chris Ballard, on the whirlwind process of quickly getting acclimated after being hired in late-January and getting on the same page with head coach Chuck Pagano and his staff.
• "We want a smart, tough, relentless, disciplined, swarming defense. You know, we want to attack; we want to wreak havoc. We've flashed at times … We've got some new faces, obviously, in the building — we've got some new faces on defense, again, going back to free agency. Chris and the personnel staff did a great job of identifying guys, and we've got guys with really high football character, guys that love football and guys that love to run and hit. And we've got a determined bunch, we've got a driven bunch, and we've got a group of guys and we've got a group of coaches that are very, very determined to get this thing right. And hopefully at the end of the day we've got a defense that everybody can be very, very proud of; again, one that it should look like to you fans, and it should look like to our opponent, that there's 12 or 13 bodies out there flying around knocking helmets off." — Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, on the identity he'd like to see his new-look defense take on this season. The team could have six or more new starters on that side of the ball to start the year.
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