Colts owner Jim Irsay does something that no other NFL owner does.
He tweets regularly. He tweets aggressively. He tweets without a filter. He tweets without the benefit of having anyone in the organization with the ability or the will to tell him that maybe he should resist the urge to press the “Tweet” button.
And his tweets naturally will generate criticism. After all, Twitter is the great social equalizer, giving fans the ability to dress down the rich and powerful without ever having to face them. And anything Irsay tweets on any topic that treads remotely close to controversial territory will generate responses from folks who relish the opportunity to pop off at a natural target who makes the target even larger by his tweets.
We like the fact that Irsay tweets. Otherwise, we never would have known that Irsay’s Colts are engaged in trade talks with a still-unknown team about a still-unknown veteran player.
But the criticism of his “trade winds” tweets seems to be getting to Irsay, who has lashed out at critics with, yes, a stream of fresh tweets.
It started out OK, with Irsay explaining that he’s merely engaged in customer relations: “ColtsFans pay hard earned $ 2c their team play,they make the game! So I’ll update them as I see fit while protecting sanctity of operations!”
But then he turned indignant: “If u don’t like it buy ur own team and try to make the playoffs 9 seasons n a row n put together 7 straight 12 win seasons n a row as Owner!”
And then he declared victory, and he presumably has retreated: “U can do all your judgmental chirpin’ U want,it’s not about subjective opinions…it what you DO n what your track record shows! CHECKMATE!”
The second tweet is the most troubling. Taunting folks who never will have the money to buy a team is bad enough; Irsay conveniently ignores the fact that he didn’t buy a team, either. He inherited one.
Also, it’s hard for an owner to publicly claim credit for winning. Yes, Irsay hired Bill Polian and Tony Dungy. Yes, Irsay has managed not to meddle in the affair of the team. But Irsay benefited greatly from the fact that he team was bad enough in 1997 to get in position to draft Peyton Manning in 1998.
And if Andrew Luck turns out to be the next great franchise quarterback, Irsay will have benefited greatly from the fact that Peyton’s neck gave out and the team went 2-14 in the same year that Luck was entering the NFL.
Regardless of whether an erratic and unpredictable approach to Twitter projects the image the NFL wants from its owners, the NFL surely doesn’t want one of its owners antagonizing the customers on Twitter, regardless of whether they are fans of the Colts or one of the other 31 teams. Regardless, he’s providing another wrinkle in what remains the ultimate reality show.