Mar 7, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (left) speaks during a press conference as owner Jim Irsay looks on during a press conference to announce Manning's release from the team at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
KUSA - Jim Irsay tried Wednesday to explain what he meant when the Indianapolis Colts owner was talking about Peyton Manning's release earlier this week in an interview.
Irsay took to Twitter Wednesday morning to say that if Manning had a better defense and special teams the Colts quarterback from 1998-2011 "instead of asking Peyton 2do too much" Irsay tweeted.
Irsay told USA Today in an interview Tuesday that the Colts turned to Andrew Luck two years ago and released Manning rather than pay him a $28-million roster bonus because they were looking for more playoff success.
"We've changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these," Irsay said, showing his Super Bowl ring. "[Tom] Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these. Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one."
"That leaves you frustrated. You make the playoffs 11 times, and you're out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the 'Star Wars' numbers from Peyton and Marvin [Harrison] and Reggie [Wayne.] Mostly, you love this."
He tweeted Wednesday that he found it hard to see how anyone could misinterpret his comments, but controversy sells, so he understands why people try to stir things up.
In a conference call with Denver media Wednesday, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Irsay harbors no ill will toward Manning.
"I don't think there's anybody that Mr. Irsay respects and cares for more than Peyton," Pagano said. "What can't you say about Peyton? What he's done for this organization, what he's done for the city, our fans - what he's done for football - it's off the charts. And certainly all I know is that our owner has the utmost respect and love and passion for that guy and always will."
Manning's longtime friend Todd Helton said Wednesday morning on The Denver Post's "Press Box" show that Irsay was "classless."
"I think the guy, [Irsay] just wants to be famous, so he gets one little shot for somebody to know what his name is. To me, that's just classless. It really, really bothers me," Helton said. "I hope Peyton goes back and steps on their throat."
Helton and Manning have been friends since playing football together at the University of Tennessee in the 1990s.
Even former NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton had harsh words for Irsay and his family. Tarkenton, who played from 1961-78 for the Vikings and Giants, referenced Jim Irsay's father, Bob, taking the Colts out of Baltimore "in the middle of the night, without telling anyone" in 1984.
"You are an embarrassment, Jim Irsay, to the legacy and history of this league," Tarkenton said during a 5-minute video he posted on Facebook. "George Halas and the great founding fathers of this league are rolling over in their grave for what you have done. ... And now you're discracing one of the greatest players to ever play the game. ... Shame on you.
"Broncos coach Jon Fox normally isn't one to criticize anyone in public, but Irsay's comments clearly struck a nerve.
"I thought it was a bit of a cheap shot," Fox said Tuesday evening on SiriusXM. "In my opinion, they were disappointing and inappropriate. You know, Peyton would never say anything because he's too classy to do that.
"They sounded a little ungrateful and unappreciative to me for a guy that's set a standard, won a Super Bowl, won division titles, won four MVP awards, and I'd be thankful for that one Super Bowl ring because a lot of people don't have one."
Former Colts general manager Bill Polian fired back at his old boss, saying Irsay had it wrong.
"For one thing, I don't believe that Baltimore had two at the time that we were fired, all of us, Peyton, me and the rest of the staff, [coach] Jim Caldwell at the end of the '11 season," Polian said.
He said Irsay was "very upset" after the Colts lost to New Orleans in the 2010 Super Bowl, "and I think it's pretty telling that getting to the Super Bowl in his mind doesn't count. And for anyone who is in the game and who has to make that journey from training camp to the Super Bowl, you know that it's awfully difficult to get there.
"And as John Fox said ... if you have one, you count yourself lucky. I've had teams that have been to six Super Bowls and won one. I'm not ashamed of that record by any means, and I'm certainly not ashamed of what we did in Indianapolis."
Manning is 160-70 in the regular season - joining Brady as the only quarterbacks with 90 more wins than losses - but is just 9-11 in the playoffs with eight first-round exits.
The Broncos - who have won 19 of 23 games under Manning, but lost to Baltimore in the playoffs - visit the Colts on Sunday night in Manning's first return to Indianapolis since his teary-eyed goodbye news conference alongside Irsay in March 2012.
Irsay defended himself in a string of responses on Twitter on Tuesday night, when he quoted Manning as saying that both he and the owner wanted him to stay in Indianapolis but "circumstances forced our hand."
He finished with a joke, saying he hopes for old time's sake that Manning completes some passes to his old teammates such as safety Antoine Bethea.
Fox and Manning meet with the media following Wednesday afternoon's practice.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)