Skip to content

Jim Irsay on protests: “There are other places to express yourself”

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 26:  Owner Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 26, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts owner Jim Irsay gives off a distinctly counter-culture vibe, from his psychedelic Twitter feed to his track record of prescription drug problems.

But when it comes to protesting the national anthem, Irsay suddenly becomes The Man.

As part of a story about the NFL’s sagging television ratings this year, Irsay told Jarrett Bell of USA Today that the national anthem protests triggered by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick were a bad look for the league.

“I think it’s the wrong venue,” Irsay said. “It hasn’t been a positive thing. What we all have to be aware of as players, owners, PR people, equipment managers, is when the lights go on we are entertainment. We are being paid to put on a show. There are other places to express yourself.”

Of course, he’s far from the only owner to share a dim view of the expression of First Amendment rights, though most who have spoken on the topic try to steer the conversation back to the middle.

“People come to the game because they want to get away from what’s happening in their everyday lives,” Texans owner Bob McNair said. “When you bring those types of things into the scene, yeah, it will turn some people off. But the main thing we try to do is to say, ‘We recognize your concern. Let’s do something about it.’ ”

Most owners are willing to point to the presidential election as the thing siphoning off most of the television ratings this year. But for a business as mainstream as the NFL, there seems to be a high level of discomfort with anyone stepping out of line, or kneeling on the sidelines.

And having Irsay — the rock and roll rebel of the bunch — voicing that opinion only underscores how uncomfortable the league must be.

Permalink 53 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Home, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Rumor Mill, San Francisco 49ers
53 Responses to “Jim Irsay on protests: “There are other places to express yourself””
  1. charger383 says: Oct 19, 2016 9:33 AM

    for once Irsay makes sense and I agree with him

  2. patsxsaintsfan says: Oct 19, 2016 9:35 AM

    Jim irsay is the last owner anyone should take advice from. He got caught with tons of pills and a bag of cash filled with 30,000 dollars not to mention the multiple DUI’s he should be in jail not running one of the most disappointing franchises in the NFL.

  3. Mr. Wright 212 says: Oct 19, 2016 9:36 AM

    But few that upset you in your comfort zone than where they choose to do it. Which is why it makes sense that they protest when and where they do. Be discomfited.

  4. tattooit says: Oct 19, 2016 9:38 AM

    Yea, but he smokes crack rocks so…

  5. icallbs81 says: Oct 19, 2016 9:41 AM

    Like in a car with 50 bottles of “prescription” pills.

  6. grandmasterslacks says: Oct 19, 2016 9:45 AM

    Of all the stupid things for somebody to make a big deal of, ‘Not standing in lockstep when everyone else to pledge your allegiance to a country that should be beyond such childish things’ is pretty high up there right now.

    It’s like they simultaneously have no idea what freedom is about (not just your archaic definition) AND they think that there’s nothing to see when it comes to the actual reason for the protest (which…holy crap, how do some of these policemen have jobs? They’re ruining it for the good ones!)

  7. harrisonhits2 says: Oct 19, 2016 9:46 AM

    “I express myself all the time like a drunk 13 year old girl on twitter, why can’t they just do that?”

    – Jim Irsay

  8. TB12RALLYCRY says: Oct 19, 2016 9:47 AM

    Never been a Irsay fan for a multitude of reasons but I agree with him here…………

  9. robaloconmosca says: Oct 19, 2016 9:48 AM

    He does not take a dim view of First Amendment rights. He takes the correct view. The First Amendment only applies to government restrictions on speech. It does not apply to private employers. If a business is being harmed by an employee’s on the job statements, the employer has every right to demand that those statements stop. As a fan of the NFL, I view it as an escape from politics. Irsay gets that most of us feel that way and is simply protecting his business.

  10. pftthoughtpolicemostwanted says: Oct 19, 2016 9:49 AM

    “And having Irsay — the rock and roll rebel of the bunch — voicing that opinion only underscores how uncomfortable the league must be.”

    Wait a second, just last week you just told me the league was quite comfortable and ratings were down certainly because of presidential debates and Aaron Rodgers throwing more picks.

  11. fwippel says: Oct 19, 2016 9:50 AM

    Not a fan of Irsay, but on this one, he’s right. It’s about time somebody associated with the NFL had the intestinal fortitude to say this.

  12. dcpatfan says: Oct 19, 2016 9:51 AM

    Like where Jim? In the alley chanting “can’t we all just get along?” because its common knowledge on this site that in the alley is where we spend our free time.

  13. theauger says: Oct 19, 2016 9:55 AM

    He is right, there are other venues for you to express yourself. I don’t tune in to watch football games to witness social commentary. I just want to watch football.

    This has annoyed me so much that I either mute the start of football games or I don’t tune in till part way through through the first quarter.

  14. floriosnuts says: Oct 19, 2016 9:55 AM

    It’s the height of stupidity for the league to think that the election and anthem protests are the reason for he drop in ratings.

  15. rcali says: Oct 19, 2016 9:58 AM

    Bingo. Thoughts and prayers out to the San Fran students shot by 4 oppressed individuals yesterday while at school.

  16. arwiv says: Oct 19, 2016 9:59 AM

    I agree with Irsay. Why the owners havent gotten together by now to stop this militant nonsense is beyond me.

  17. sonhoodoo says: Oct 19, 2016 10:00 AM

    Yes, why for example Kaepernik can express himself through doped up tweets.

  18. intentionallywidenberg says: Oct 19, 2016 10:04 AM

    Are people talking about the protest? Is it drawing attention? Is it happening without anyone getting hurt?

    Then apparently it IS the right venue. It’s just one that’s inconvenient for Jim Irsay.

  19. kmartin173 says: Oct 19, 2016 10:04 AM

    You don’t have 1st Amendment rights at your job, none of us do. You can say what you want but you better be ready for the repercussions.

  20. joetoronto says: Oct 19, 2016 10:08 AM

    Wow, I have to agree with Irsay for once.

  21. scrap7681 says: Oct 19, 2016 10:17 AM

    He’s only saying what all the other owners are afraid to say b/c they don’t wanna be labeled as racist. He runs a business & this is hurting his business. Eventually the players are gonna realize they need the owners business to be profitable in order for the players to make the money they love/enjoy. Upsetting the people who pay your bills is a bad thing, you’d think billionaires & millionaires would know this. United We Stand.

  22. aboveaveragejoe11 says: Oct 19, 2016 10:19 AM

    We saw players convicted of manslaughter play in the league and ratings didn’t go down. We all watched a player punch a woman in the face and ratings didn’t go down. We saw horrible pictures of injuries inflicted by a player to his child….and ratings didn’t go down. We watch players sustain serious life-altering injuries regularly…and ratings don’t go down.

    The cumulative arrest sheet for active players in this league is tremendously long…We make light of the police blotter on this very site….and ratings don’t go down.

    To single out lawful, peaceful, brief and mostly unintrusive signs of protests to bring light to issues that, if addressed, could make this country even greater is indicative of an incredibly selective application of morality.

  23. usg1 says: Oct 19, 2016 10:23 AM

    I can’t stand when people say anyone against or says anything negative about what Kaepernick is doing, is against the First Amendment. That is horrible logic thrown out by the left. People can be ok with him using his First Amendment rights and still be against what he is doing.

    This has been said many times but it needs to be said again….. The First Amendment gives you the ability of Free Speech, but it does not protect you from criticisms or people disagreeing. It only protects you from the government doing something.

    Actually, anyone that says to the people that disagree with what he is doing or that says anything negative about him, that they are against the First Amendment…… are actually the ones against the First Amendment. What you are saying is Kaepernick is within his First Amendment rights to do what he is doing but no one else is allowed to use their First Amendment rights to express anything negative about what he is doing.

  24. scrp2 says: Oct 19, 2016 10:31 AM

    Colts fans are still protesting the Trent Richardson trade. Talk about oppression.

  25. filmex2000 says: Oct 19, 2016 10:32 AM

    Watching to see who is kneeling or not is a lot more compelling than watching the Colts play this year.

  26. willycents says: Oct 19, 2016 10:33 AM

    When I was a teenager, I was arguing with my Dad about “my constitutional rights” and the US being a democracy. He finally informed me that my constitutional rights started and ended at his property boundary. I could practice all the rights I wanted off his property, but, inside that area, he was the dictator and I could live within his dictatorial rules.

  27. Professor S says: Oct 19, 2016 10:37 AM

    The Colts and literally half the rest of the NFL being at or below .500 has a lot more to do with plummeting ratings than the police brutality protests.

  28. blurocpurp says: Oct 19, 2016 10:40 AM

    @averagejoe11 I agree 100% I just don’t understand how people cant see their hypocrisy! Kill someone, ahhh whens the next game! Beat your wife, ahhh whens the next game. Don’t stand up for the national anthem, PURE OUTRAGE! Its a very silly logic and selective morality! with a whole lot of racial undertones

  29. sidepull says: Oct 19, 2016 10:45 AM

    Watching football was a great escape. Now there is none. They decided to bring stinking politics into the game. No escape unless you quit watching. So I do just that. I don’t care to see whose kneeling, crying, jumping, raising a fist, holding hands or whatever moment they want to have. I turn it on after I know they have had their little “look at us” moment. You do you….

  30. kolbe213 says: Oct 19, 2016 10:57 AM

    First Amendment only applies if they agree with you!


  31. charliecharger says: Oct 19, 2016 10:59 AM

    This really isn’t about Jim Irsay or Colin Kaepernick. It’s about innocent people getting needlessly killed, and then innocent cops being needlessly retaliated against. If nobody else cares, some of these NFL players obviously do. It’s their brothers and sisters that are getting killed. America has always strived to be great. Kaepernick is just being a good American and striving for greatness. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t like seeing cops (Dallas) getting gunned down on TV. Do you?

  32. OG FOOL says: Oct 19, 2016 11:12 AM

    I wish they wouldn’t even come out for the anthem. I’d rather them stay in the locker room and then come out afterwards. That way they wouldn’t even have to acknowledge the anthem and flag. The people get what they want and The Man gets what they want.

    Either way, I’d rather Esau Irsay just be quiet because he’s probably drunk.

    Some watch to get away from their “everyday lives” but I watch to see the protests… I should get what I want to as I am a paying customer as well.

    Right on, Colin!

  33. dcpatfan says: Oct 19, 2016 11:14 AM

    aboveaveragejoe11 says:
    Oct 19, 2016 10:19 AM

    Excellent post.

  34. saltineamerican says: Oct 19, 2016 12:07 PM

    A football player is an employee of the team. In my opinion any type of protest while in uniform (on the clock),is wrong. Protest all you want on your own time, not while you’re on the clock.

  35. godfatherd says: Oct 19, 2016 12:47 PM

    Yes, because they would definitely be talking about the issues if Kap had protested at the local car wash. SMH

  36. elvoid says: Oct 19, 2016 2:50 PM

    Fifth sign of the apocalypse: Jim Irsay opens mouth, makes sense.

    We’re doomed.

  37. matlinp says: Oct 19, 2016 3:17 PM

    “People come to the game because they want to get away from what’s happening in their everyday lives”. Dang, and here I thought that’s what all of Irsay’s drugs were for.

  38. elvoid says: Oct 19, 2016 3:18 PM

    “Yes, because they would definitely be talking about the issues if Kap had protested at the local car wash. SMH”

    Are we talking about the issues because of Kap’s protest? Really? Seems to me all Kap kneeling gets us talking about is Kap (or whoever) kneeling.

  39. toursbooks says: Oct 19, 2016 3:29 PM

    Everyone turns on the TV to watch kneeling or fist raising players protest. I’m sure the advertisers are thrilled with the ratings drop.

    People do NOT watch football to TALK politics. They watch it to ESCAPE politics.

  40. chicago240 says: Oct 19, 2016 3:33 PM

    Hard to think of a lot of jobs where employees are allowed to make a peaceful political protest of some kind every day at their place of employment. I can’t think of any. At the same time, if one wished to make a high visibility political protest at your place of work, I can’t think of a better venue than one where the employer suffers PR issues if they interfere. This could become a regular thing now that precedent is set. And it will no doubt spread elsewhere where similar dynamics exist.

  41. mja2001 says: Oct 19, 2016 4:32 PM

    This isn’t a rights issue. Your 1st Amendment rights STOP when you “clock in” to work and start representing your employer.

    They start again when you “clock out”.

    You choose to PROTEST on COMPANY TIME, your butt should be drummed out.

    Gutless Roger the commissioner and the spineless owners condone these disrespectful acts by not ending them, and mental midget players run the asylum.

    So from me you got no ticket sales this year. No merchandise sales this year. I skip every advertiser’s product (I even switched to store brand soda just to avoid Coke and Pepsi).

    Speak with the wallet, friends. They’re already hurting, can’t charge the ad rates they used to with sinking ratings. So go ahead, protest. My wallet will protest you, too.

  42. The Professional Introvert says: Oct 19, 2016 4:47 PM

    This isn’t 1st Amendment. Do schools not teach government anymore?

  43. sabatimus says: Oct 19, 2016 5:21 PM

    Btw, the people who are blaming Kaepernick for the decline in ratings are either drinking some seriously strong kool-aid or have their priorities all messed up.

  44. deepizzaguy says: Oct 19, 2016 6:40 PM

    Maybe the NFL has too many games on television in one week which was weakened the product. In my view if I want to see grown men act like kids with their crazy antics on the field. I would watch reruns of the late Mexican comedian Chespirito’s show The Kid From Number Eight (El Chavo Del Ocho).

  45. thegreatgabbert says: Oct 19, 2016 11:10 PM

    The only “dialogue” Squid has inspired is unprintable in a public forum for the most part. Racial harmony within the NFL and outside of it seems the worse for wear since the dolt exhumed the 1960s and tried to cast himself as the new Muhammed Ali. Since the old one finally bit the dust after 40 years as a vegetable.

    Jason Whitlock calls out Kaepernick for the cheap, shallow fraud he is, but no one else in public media has the confidence or character to do so.

  46. thinkingswimming says: Oct 19, 2016 11:16 PM

    There are no rules requiring NFL athletes to do anything during the national anthem. If he feels strongly about it, then change the rules. Until then, it’s all just huffing and puffing.

  47. mmi16 says: Oct 19, 2016 11:18 PM

    Advice from a crack head is the last thing I want.

  48. allamer1 says: Oct 20, 2016 1:28 AM

    Well, here’s the thing. The players are using NFL games and the national TV audience for THEIR protest. Not the NFL’s protest – the players’ protest. The players don’t own the games or the TV rights. But they are using NFL presentations….for their own purposes. They have no “right” to do that. But the NFL is allowing it. So, I would also like to use NFL games and their TV audiences for my protest issues. I want to protest the illegal aliens invading our country. Now, since I also have 1st Amendment rights, the NFL has to let me do it, right?

  49. ramblinwreck66 says: Oct 20, 2016 10:55 AM

    As a Vietnam Era Navy Veteran I support anyone’s right to speak out but I totally disagree with some millionaire athlete using NFL TV games to disrespect the flag which is a symbol of a country that thousands of Veterans gave their lives to allow free speech. Protest it in other ways like marching with protestors or working to help minority families learn how to be better family oriented or working with minority kids to care about getting an education. Lots of us have stopped watching NFL games and if we all stop maybe these rich protestors who live a life that very few of us can will learn the hard way that their salaries depend on us watching them play.

  50. tgadler says: Oct 20, 2016 12:10 PM

    If the NFL wants to limit the impact to its brand with these protests, all they really have to do is stop broadcasting the anthem on TV.

  51. tbrackett3732 says: Oct 20, 2016 8:44 PM

    i wish owners would do what he did with crommarte and fire any and all players who use sports for there f_cked up protests. if these players would learn to read and write they might see what is actually going on with there bros and sis’s. i would watch football again if all players got fired for there protests. i bet you that owners are starting to see revenue starting to fall. believe me when i say these players can be replaced!!!!

  52. despenc925 says: Oct 20, 2016 10:15 PM

    if you ever noticed. the ones who disagree with Kaepernick are white people who never experienced racial profiling or minority injustice. white privilege…you wouldn’t understand

  53. sariff420 says: Oct 21, 2016 8:49 PM

    They’re paid to play football. Not stand for the anthem

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!