The most recent episode of Hard Knocks was nearly as intriguing for what it included as for what it omitted.
The folks at NFL Films and HBO presumably exercised significant editorial discretion, ignoring any unflattering comments from Dolphins’ management regarding the stream of tweets generated by Colts owner Jim Irsay regarding the brewing trade for cornerback Vontae Davis. Those pieces of tape on the cutting-room floor would surely shed light on key issues, including how Irsay is perceived by the coaching staff and G.M. of another NFL team and, more importantly, whether and to what extent Irsay’s decision to tip his hand in excited fashion about a potential trade caused the Dolphins to put a thumb or two on the trade scale.
Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star recently authored a compelling critique of Irsay’s Twitter habit as it relates to strategic issues like potential trades. Kravitz identifies two key problems.
“One, if the trade doesn’t get done, he’s teased the deal and the fans are left disappointed,” Kravitz writes, echoing far more eloquently concerns we raised over the weekend. “Everybody’s appetite had been whetted; if it hadn’t happened, fans would have been up in arms, not only wondering why it didn’t get done, but blaming Irsay for blowing up the deal with his impertinent tweets.
“Second, the tweets send a message to a potential trading partner: These guys are desperate to get something done. Now your trading partner knows you have to get something done, or risk disappointing the local fan base. If I’m Miami and I’m reading that — and who doesn’t read Jim’s tweets — I’m thinking, ‘I can get what I want from the Colts, maybe an additional pick or something.’”
Irsay decided to respond, via a three-part tweet: “I don’t mind my friend Crafty Kravitz constructive criticism,but 1) Saying TradeWindsBlowing with Grigs is like saying the sun will rise 2day 2) I’m always correcting ‘Imagined’ words people THINK they heard; I never said ‘Blockbuster!’ or ‘Monster’ trade..never said it once! 3) With 31 teams and 75-90 player rosters..that’s over 2500 players in play..hardly a shocking tip of the hand! It’s theater,it’s excitement.”
The third part contradicts the first. Irsay tries to say that trade winds are always blowing with G.M. Ryan Grigson, which means that Irsay’s tweets regarding the blowing of trade winds should have been regarded with a shrug. But then Irsay says that he did what he did for effect, in order to create excitement.
As to part 2, where Irsay says he never used words like “Blockbuster!” or “Monster,” his use of all caps and exclamation points and reference to “given up high pick” for a “SERIOUS Vet/Starter!” and his “check book” is ready and “this sh*t is HOT, STAY TUNED!” created the reasonable impression for a neutral observer that the owner viewed it as a big deal. Which means that the fans should, too.
Unfortunately, Kravitz offered no take on the tweet that arguably created the biggest problems for Irsay’s image in Indyand beyond. In response to criticism on Twitter, Irsay played the “buy ur own team” card, underscoring the fact that he never actually bought a team, but inherited one.
It’s impossible to know whether Irsay’s tweets forced the team to give up more to get Davis. But when considering what the Dolphins thought of the 2009 first-round pick, it’s likely that the deleted scenes from Tuesday night’s Hard Knocks would make Irsay wish he had deleted his tweets. Or, better yet, that he had never sent them.