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Irsay may have feared Pagano thriving elsewhere


Eighteen years ago, quarterback Peyton Manning had a warning for former Colts G.M. Bill Polian: “If you draft me, I promise we’ll win a championship. And if you don’t, I promise I will come back and kick your ass.”

While it’s still not known what was said to get owner Jim Irsay to re-up with coach Chuck Pagano at a time when Irsay could have hired anyone else without a buyout, it would have been fitting for Pagano to pay homage to Manning’s quote to Polian when talking to Irsay. Keep me, and we’ll win a championship. If you don’t, I promise I will come back and kick your ass.

Irsay already has dealt with that dynamic regarding Manning, who was cut by the Colts four years ago and who has had more success in Denver than the Colts have had without him. While the Colts have gotten the better of Manning on the field, the Broncos have been the better overall team.

If Irsay had fired Pagano, who knows where he would have surfaced? Although the Titans are expected to keep Mike Mularkey, Pagano could have made a persuasive pitch to stay in the division, with an opportunity to kick Irsay’s ass twice per year. Or Pagano could have gone to Miami, competing with (and finally figuring out how to master) the Patriots.

Just as Manning’s career seems to be winding down, Irsay would have had to worry about Pagano doing so well elsewhere that it would have made Irsay look stupid for letting him go — especially if the Colts had struggled under a new, high-priced, big-name coach.

So Irsay opted to play it safe. No matter how it turns out with Pagano over the next four or more years, one thing is clear. There’s no way Pagano will be kicking Irsay’s ass.

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31 Responses to “Irsay may have feared Pagano thriving elsewhere”
  1. jdbaker01 says: Jan 4, 2016 11:38 PM

    Irsay basically called a fake punt on firing his coach

  2. tonebones says: Jan 4, 2016 11:38 PM

    Whatever the reason, it’s safe to say Jim Irsay has a history of hiring the right people. If wins and losses are any indication, very few football owners have been as successful as Irsay over the last 20 years.

  3. rajbais says: Jan 4, 2016 11:40 PM

    Or maybe the agents of Pagano’s potential replacements likely said, “We’re staying the hell away from you.”

  4. drgfri says: Jan 4, 2016 11:43 PM

    Why keep Grigson then? And why does Grigson keep that awful facial hair that looks so scummy? Good luck Colts fans….. You can expect to hoist lots of banners celebrating mediocrity for years to come woth him as you GM.

  5. bleedingfacemask says: Jan 4, 2016 11:44 PM

    “…that it would have made Irsay look stupid…”

    Irsay kept Grigson. So, call it a wash.

  6. aschwartz2011 says: Jan 4, 2016 11:47 PM

    This felt unnecessarily pessimistic (I have no dog in this fight). Maybe Irsay realizes that changing coaches every few years isn’t the way to run a franchise. This feels very similar to Mike Brown sticking with Marvin Lewis when they seemed destined to break up. Give the guy a chance to build some continuity with a healthy team.

  7. mcjon22 says: Jan 4, 2016 11:55 PM

    Man, is Irsay high or something?

    Oh, wait…

  8. kanodogg says: Jan 4, 2016 11:59 PM

    We can call that the Jim Harbaugh effect

  9. eoyguy says: Jan 5, 2016 12:00 AM

    For some reason I picture Obi Wan Kenobi waving his hand and saying “I am not the coach you want to fire”, and Irsay falling right in line. I mean, anyone who can attempt that fake 4th down “play” and still get a new contract has some serious Jedi mind trick skills.

  10. bucrightoff says: Jan 5, 2016 12:01 AM

    He could be hopped up on drugs too.

  11. tjacks7 says: Jan 5, 2016 12:04 AM

    You mean like if he wasn’t handicapped by a GM who neglected all of the issues on defense… Refused to upgrade the offensive line… Traded a first round pick for a running back who shouldn’t have been in the NFL… Drafted a 5th string WR in the first round and ignored at least 15 other positions of need… Should I continue?

  12. footballtyme says: Jan 5, 2016 12:07 AM

    Why can’t you all see it, Grigston is a puppet for Irsay!!! Irsay is making all the calls just like J Jones, however he doesn’t have the nutsack to put his name behind it. He has to have a fall guy !!

  13. frankbroughtonbelicheck says: Jan 5, 2016 12:10 AM

    Was he also fearing Ryan Grigson would be thriving searching the dumpster for tin cans?

  14. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Jan 5, 2016 12:12 AM

    Ummm……….Wouldn’t that be the case with every owner who fires a coach?

  15. cwwgk says: Jan 5, 2016 12:13 AM

    If one fears being beaten by a current employee–should that employee be let go–then there is no reason to fire the employee. Stated differently, if one feels a current employee would be successful over their successor, then there is no need for the successor. Pretty obvious logic and something I’m sure Irsay didn’t waste any time on in making his decision. Either Pagano’s the guy or he isn’t. And if he isn’t, you’re not worried about what he’s doing in the future.

  16. magnumpimustache says: Jan 5, 2016 12:26 AM

    Thank you
    Thank you
    Thank you

    – Pats Fans

  17. jeremy2020 says: Jan 5, 2016 12:28 AM

    Irsay got lucky that Peyton manning was there. This franchise will be in the running with Haslam’s Browns and York’s 49ers for the dysfunction crown in a couple years.

  18. blackball407 says: Jan 5, 2016 12:32 AM

    But the media told me Irsay was firing Pagano and Grigson.

  19. gotdebttoo says: Jan 5, 2016 12:39 AM

    “This feels very similar to Mike Brown sticking with Marvin Lewis when they seemed destined to break up.”
    Or even the Giants the last two years with Coughlin

    Unknown always remains that. Unknown.
    Can’t argue that Chuck lost the team this year. He didn’t
    Maybe that resonated with Irsay, or his daughters, or his advisers. Irsays seems to really like the guy and maybe wants to give him another shot. With some additional conditions of course

  20. shaggytoodle says: Jan 5, 2016 12:46 AM

    I can understand the move to keep Pagano, if a team fires a coach they need to have someone better in mind to replace them. I don’t know that there are better coaches available at the moment.

    The Panthers weren’t all that impressive last season in what was a weak division, and got the ball rolling this year, if any team is able to have a turn around similar to that it would be the Colts.

    They need the GM Pagano and Luck to have a good off-season for that be possible and while I can believe in Pagano and Luck pulling that off, the GM isn’t that good in my opinion poor drafts paying over the hill players to be more than just role players.

  21. jayhawk6 says: Jan 5, 2016 1:01 AM

    Simultaneously dealing with Jim Irsay and Brian Grigson is a testament to Chuck Pagano’s skills at compartmentalization.

    And BTW @tonebones, that adage is fine and shines brightly only as long as the QB is at the same level as Peyton Manning.

  22. tim2200 says: Jan 5, 2016 1:24 AM

    My condolences go out to Andrew Luck. Seriously!!

    How about that anti-drug abuse commercial from years ago …..”A quarterback “…..errrr “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

    Jim Irsay would know on both counts.

  23. milesrunner262 says: Jan 5, 2016 1:26 AM

    I think he did a good job all things considered. The guy went 8-8 with 4 QB’s and an average roster. Dallas, with probably a more talented team, rode 4 QB’s to 4 wins.

  24. piratefreedom says: Jan 5, 2016 1:59 AM

    tonebones says:
    Jan 4, 2016 11:38 PM

    Whatever the reason, it’s safe to say Jim Irsay has a history of hiring the right people. If wins and losses are any indication, very few football owners have been as successful as Irsay over the last 20 years.


    He did parlay Manning and Luck into that one Superbowl win.
    who else could have possibly done that?

  25. jhorton83 says: Jan 5, 2016 2:54 AM

    Is it just me or does Irsay look about 80 years old now? Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

  26. carloswlassiter says: Jan 5, 2016 4:48 AM

    I really prefer to see this than the continual coaching churn and burn in Cleveland and other cities.

  27. tennesseeoilers says: Jan 5, 2016 5:56 AM

    That was my first thought exactly. The Titans have already started lining up HC interviews. Can you imagine Pagano telling Irsay, “Are you ready to have me 6 hours away and facing you twice a year?”

  28. margoadams says: Jan 5, 2016 5:59 AM

    Why Pagano wants to continue to associate with a known drug/alcohol womanizer in Irsay is beyond the pale.
    Kimberly Wundrum was Irsay’s mistress for ten years. She overdosed in one of his homes. Hang with dogs you get flees.

  29. dreadnok89 says: Jan 5, 2016 7:27 AM

    He is a good coach. Grigs blows tho

  30. Remember when PFT was about football? Now its just a bunch of whiney losers who cry about the Patriots says: Jan 5, 2016 8:06 AM

    I suspect the real situation was that Pagano was on Irsay’s list. He just wasn’t at the top of the list. When all of the guys Irsay wanted declined, Irsay went down the list, one after another, until he found a guy who wanted the job. Turns out the only guy who wanted the job was Pagano. Because Pagano already said the Colts was his last job, and all I have heard from people since deflategate is how he is just such a swell guy. If he is such a swell guy, he would have retired, meaning there would be no “I’m going to kick your ass in the future”…

  31. irishking says: Jan 5, 2016 8:27 AM

    A nice reconciliation or is it?

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