Training season begins for the Indianapolis Colts in Anderson, Indiana, and Jim Irsay, owner of the football team, handed out $100 bills to enthusiastic fans who came to watch and support the team in the early days of training. Irsay spoke to the fans and expressed confidence about the upcoming season: “With the group we have here and with Andrew [Luck] really being seasoned now and doing such amazing things in only two years, everyone understands the expectations.”
Irsay is facing personal challenges as well as some headwinds in the training season. He has to stand trial in August for charges that he was driving while intoxicated in March. In addition, running back Vick Ballard was carted off the field with a lower left leg injury on Friday. Irsay and the team are awaiting results from the MRI. The injury seems almost like a freak accident, since Ballard was not even hit on the pass play, but got up limping and had to be taken to the locker room in a golf cart.
It was only the second full day of training, and if Ballard has injured his Achilles heel, he might be out for the season. Last year, he tore the ACL in his right knee in a September training session and had to sit out the last 15 games. Irsay addressed the issue with stoic resolve: “When you see someone like Vick Ballard go down who’s worked so hard to get back, it’s tough, but it happens, ” he said. “As soon as you get to camp, those things happen. He’s still young and he’s got a full career ahead of him so we have to do an MRI and see exactly what it is and then go from there.”
Irsay is no stranger to life’s challenges. His parents were hard-working immigrants, his mother from Polish Catholic roots, his father was a Hungarian Jew, although Jim did not discover his Jewish roots until he was 14 years old. He lost his brother, Robert, to a disability and his sister, Roberta, in a car accident. Irsay was a linebacker for the SMU Mustangs, until an ankle injury put an end to his career as a player. A breakthrough came for the Irsay family when Robert Irsay, Jim’s father, purchased the Baltimore Colts, a team that later became the Indianapolis Colts.