- The Washington Times
Thursday, October 27, 2022

ASHBURN — Dan Snyder, if you think about it, did Jim Irsay a favor.

By trading for Carson Wentz in the offseason, Snyder’s Washington Commanders took a quarterback that Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts were desperate to discard. And Washington paid a hefty price for a signal-caller the Colts were reportedly willing to cut if they hadn’t found a taker. 

Irsay’s thank you gift must have gotten lost in the mail.

“I believe there’s merit in removing him as owner of the Redskins,” Irsay said of Snyder last week, referring to the Commanders by their former moniker. 

After becoming the first owner to publicly call for Snyder’s ouster from the NFL, Irsay’s willingness to go after the embattled billionaire adds a layer of intrigue to Sunday’s game between the Commanders and Colts. This week was supposed to be about Wentz’s return to Indianapolis, though that was derailed by the quarterback’s finger injury earlier this month. Now the focus is on Snyder and Irsay.

Don’t expect a pregame photo op. 

Irsay’s comments last week, too, were far from the first time that the Colts owner has been a thorn in Snyder’s side this year. After the Wentz trade, Irsay made a series of disparaging remarks about the quarterback — leaving the Commanders to deal with the aftermath. 

The first came in late March, when Irsay told reporters at the NFL’s annual league meeting that the short-lived Wentz era was a “mistake.” The Colts gave up on Wentz after just one season, and it was clear that Irsay was a driving force behind the trade. In that media session, Irsay also took a shot at Wentz’s leadership — saying last year’s Colts lacked chemistry as they failed to make the playoffs.

“For us, it was something we had to move away from as a franchise,” Irsay said. “It was very obvious.” 

Wentz, in an interview with Fox’s Colin Cowherd, said the comment “came out left field,” but added that Irsay was entitled to his opinion. Commanders coach Ron Rivera has also been seemingly perceptive of the remark, praising Wentz’s composure throughout the year. In the offseason, Rivera noted the efforts in which Wentz was getting to know his teammates — whether by organizing a golf outing or by flying them out to California for a workout before training camp.

But Irsay didn’t back off the criticism — again taking a shot at Wentz in August. Though he didn’t mention the quarterback by name, Irsay told reporters Indianapolis’ inconsistency at the position in 2021 “led to massive problems.” Wentz was the only quarterback to log a snap for the Colts last year. 

Irsay’s thinly veiled critique of Wentz was used to prop up former MVP and new Colts signal-caller Matt Ryan — who, ironically, was benched this week after an inconsistent seven-game stretch. Irsay reportedly had a say in Ryan’s demotion.

Then, there were the Snyder remarks. After he caused a stir at last week’s owners meeting with his comment about Snyder, Irsay went on to double down on his thoughts about Washington’s owner — speaking with various outlets like Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports and Fox. 

Irsay told NFL insider Jay Glazer that he didn’t want the NFL to sweep its Snyder investigation “under the rug.” The Colts owner maintained it wasn’t in the league’s best interest to have Snyder in its ranks after the team’s workplace misconduct scandal.

“I will talk about it,” Irsay told Fox. “I will not be muzzled. And I will stand by it.” 

That’s who Irsay has been since taking control of the Colts from his father, says local Indianapolis radio host Kevin Bowen. Bowen, who hosts a morning show on 107.5 The Fan, said Irsay is generally viewed in high regard locally — and that his remarks about Snyder were well received.

“He’s certainly eccentric,” Bowen said. 

Speaking with reporters in New York, Irsay said his problem with Snyder wasn’t personal. He said he had talked with Snyder over the years, but added “we’re not close or anything like that.” 

They’re not likely to be any closer now.

“The founders of this league taught me you have to protect the game and protect what we’re about,” Irsay said. “This isn’t what we’re about.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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