By Larry Hawley
10:12 PM EDT, March 14, 2011
Before he began to wax poetically about his past, Jim Irsay offered an apology.
"You guys might think I end up getting too sentimental or whatever," said the Colts owner-who is known in person and on his Twitter account to reach back into his past for statement of merit in the present.
When it came to talking about fans and their response to the NFL lockout, Irsay felt it appropriate to do that again.
"I talk about embracing my peasant roots," said Irsay. "My grandparents came across Ellis Island, my grandmother was a poor innercity maid, widow raising five kids."
In essence the owner was saying that he can understand the criticism some fans might give to the National Football League players and owners as they battle over-among other things-nine billion dollars of revenue.
At the same time, he asked for patience in exchange for a promise.
"I believe we'll get something done and things will be positive," said Irsay, whose owners locked out the players after their representing organization decided to decertify and file an Anti-Trust lawsuit.
His optimistic tone for the future was reiterated thoroughout his half hour news conference at the Colts Complex on Monday afternoon. Irsay believes that the season will take place in its entirety, including the Super Bowl which Indianapolis will host for the first time.
"My focus is-and the organization's focus is-on the draft, on the season, and the Colts being as good as they possibly can be," said Irsay on the goals of the 2011 campaign.
To make this happen, however, the Colts' owner believes the creation of a new CBA must come at the negotiating table and not thought the courts-which the current action by the players dictates.
With the Anti Trust suit not scheduled to have preliminary hearings until April 6th, Irsay says he doesn't know when the side may meet again-but believes that saving a season depends on doing so.
"I believe this thing is going to get done thorugh mediation, through negotitaitions, not through lawyers," said Irsay. "At the same time moving forward, it's March 14th, its not August 14th and I have great optimism that we can have a great season."
Irsay expect to do so without any problems between himself and two of the major NFLPA players in the entire CBA saga-Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and center Jeff Saturday. Manning is named as a plaintiff in the Anti-Trust lawsuit against the league and Saturday has been a major negotitor over the past few weeks.
"I don't take those sort of things personally," said Irsay of the negotiations with Manning and Saturday. "They are very close friends of mine and this isn't about us against them."
Neither is that the way Irsay wants others in the Colts complex to think of this situation, saying on Monday that he expects no furloughs or job cuts during the lockout.
"My feeling is that I'm interested in good morale around here," said Irsay. "I'm looking at someone whose making 40-or-50,000 dollars a year who has rent to pay, has things to do.
"I just can't see it for me as an owner for me to be asking them for anything."