Colts owner has way with words

He thought the decision to clear the way for Andrew Luck was in the best interests of both Manning and the Colts, and he said Manning was of like mind.

Irsay hopes Luck's Colts can do something Manning's Colts could not.

"We all hurt that we didn't have more than one championship in that era," he said. "In this next era, I'm hoping to have multiple championships."

Championships were a foreign concept to Irsay growing up. Before Robert Irsay purchased the Colts in 1972, he was a Bears season ticket holder who often took son Jim to games at Wrigley Field.

Jim also was a die-hard Cubs fan who once waited 11/2 hours at a bank to get Ernie Banks' autograph.

"I remember coming out of fourth grade every day, asking if Ernie hit his 500th," he said.

Irsay got to know George Halas, and Halas even attended Irsay's confirmation and wedding.

"It was a great honor for a team owner to spend time with me, like President (Barack) Obama having met George Washington," he said.

So Irsay still gets pumped up about playing the Bears in Chicago. He's throwing a big bash the night before the Sunday's season opener in Soldier Field for his Chicago family and friends and anticipates he will be doling out about 150 tickets for the game.

Irsay can spin a yarn about the father of our country as well as Papa Bear. He owns a letter written by George Washington. Also in his cultural collection are guitars once owned by George Harrison and Jerry Garcia and a first-edition Playboy magazine with Marilyn Monroe on the cover.

His prize is the 120-foot scroll on which Jack Kerouac typed On the Road. Irsay paid $2.43 million for it but said he recently fielded an offer of "eight figures." He turned it down.

He similarly was rebuffed in a recent attempt to purchase the Beatles' drum skin from the Sgt. Pepper album.

"You look for things that would have relevance 40, 50, 80 years from now," Irsay said.

Like Andrew Luck, perhaps?

"The collection is fun, but nothing is as fun as working and building the football team and winning and having success," Irsay said. "I couldn't be more pleased with where we sit right now. I'm so excited looking to the new era."

That era starts Sunday.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei
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