The power of collective belief: Q&A with Colts owner Jim Irsay
NUVO was able to catch up with Jim Irsay via e-mail as the Colts owner was about to lead his team to Miami for its first trip to the Super Bowl.
NUVO: You’re a Chicago guy. How does it feel to face off in the Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears?
Irsay: It’s almost surreal. My dad took me to see the Bears play at Wrigley Field when I was a kid. George Halas was a family friend and was there for my confirmation. My mother still lives in the family home in Winnetka and Meg and I have many, many friends and family in Chicagoland.
The best part about the Colts-Bears match-up is that both organizations have rich histories, respect each other and have coaches that set incredible examples. In fact, there are many, many great stories to tell about the Colts and Bears.
NUVO: Some folks are saying the AFC Championship game was one of the most exciting they’ve ever seen. What was it like for you?
Irsay: At the rally on Friday night before the Saturday game, I told the crowd that it was OK to believe that we could win the game; there’s a lot to be said for the power of collective belief.
The Patriots are the last team you want to dig a hole against and after halftime, I was proud of our fans because it was evident that they still believed. Those up-and-down, back-and-forth games can be exhausting but I think this game will go down in history as one of the best ever in the NFL.
When Marlin Jackson made the interception and we knew for sure that the game was ours, it was nearly overwhelming. Standing on the podium in the middle of the field, surrounded by my family, our team and our unbelievably loyal fans was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.
NUVO: How does the Super Bowl differ from other big games?
Irsay: As the premiere event of the most popular and most successful professional sport in the world, it is incredibly awesome. When our fans arrive at the stadium and see their Colts’ horseshoe several stories high on the outside, they’ll begin to feel the power of the Super Bowl. Everything is spectacular and the game should be electric.
I’ve been to many Super Bowls since our family acquired the Colts in 1972, but believe me, there will never be a Super Bowl as special as this first one for the Indianapolis Colts!
NUVO: What part does spiritual preparation play in getting ready for an event like this?
Irsay: It’s amazing how much can get accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. I’m so proud of our coach, our team, our whole organization and our fans. Everyone’s religious or spiritual belief is respected and many pray quietly and individually. Yet, it’s clear to me that our Colts’ organization has strength that comes from spirituality and never forgets to thank those around us as well as those above.
NUVO: As the team’s steward, what challenges does the Super Bowl present?
Irsay: Getting to the Super Bowl is incredibly difficult and I’m not sure everyone recognizes that. We start each season with 32 teams that include the most talented athletes and coaches anywhere and — as we know — on any given Sunday, one team can upset another. Getting through the playoffs and winning the Conference Championship is something that’s taken us decades to achieve and we have one of the best teams in the league.
All the attention, the hype can make the Super Bowl daunting for the team, but we’ve tried to approach it as business as usual. We’ve tried to be calm and disciplined and keep to our routine.
NUVO: What was it like to receive the Lamar Hunt trophy?
Irsay: It had special meaning for me personally because Lamar was always one of the owners I respected because of his commitment to the league and the game of football. He, along with Dan Rooney, Wellington Mara and the other “fathers” of the NFL, did an amazing job of building a pro sport that has flourished because of the owners’ willingness to do what’s best for the league. So that trophy is doubly significant to me.