Colts Jim Irsay Praises Marvin Harrison, While Throwing a ‘Punch’ at Patriots

Mar 18, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay listens as retired quarterback Peyton Manning speaks during a press conference at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay listens as retired quarterback Peyton Manning speaks during a press conference at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /
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Indianapolis Colts team owner Jim Irsay was in attendance for his team’s training camp practice Tuesday at Anderson, Indiana, and gave a sneak peak of what he plans to present for his former superstar wide receiver Marvin Harrison‘s Hall of Fame induction on Saturday:

"Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) and Hall of Fame inductee Marvin Harrison on the field before Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers at Levi Stadium“Again, I’m going to talk about his work ethic,” said Irsay after training camp practice. “What a craftsman he was. What an artist and how hard he worked. How he never, ever got tired.”“He was just so special, it’s just going to be an honor just to be there because again, I really believe his specialness is very unique. I think that there is some rooms and floors in the Hall of Fame that are a little bit higher. I think he’s in that type of floor.”"

However, for all of the high praise offered for Harrison, Irsay couldn’t help but deliver a “pleasantry” to his franchise’s arch-nemesis, the New England Patriots:

"“He (Harrison) was such a rare player of greatness and quite frankly, as you guys know he couldn’t be covered. They had to change the rules to make sure that some of our competitors holding him–I won’t mention who and when, but Bill Polian can tell you now I’m sure if you asked him.”"

As you may recall, under the previous regime, Colts receivers including Harrison were manhandled by members of the Patriots secondary and linebacking corps for a consecutive postseason during a 20-3 loss in the Divisional Round of the 2004 playoffs.

For instance, plays like this–which actually occurred in the 2003 AFC Championship game just a season prior, were routinely allowed by members of the Patriots secondary including most notably by cornerback Ty Law against Harrison:

Not to mention, for what it’s worth (aka bad sportsmanship like usual), Patriots head coach Bill Belichick even tried tripping/delaying Harrison on the sidelines during that particular Colts 2003 playoff loss:

Led by general manager Bill Polian in the following offseason (after 2004), a number of league executives pushed the NFL’s Competition Committee to make it a point of emphasis to crack down on defensive holding and illegal contact by upholding the actual letter of the law in the league’s rulebook.

This meant that beyond 5 yards from the line of scrimmage, Patriots secondary members such as Law could no longer grab or hold Harrison or any other receivers for that matter to impede or re-route them in order to disrupt the timing of the opposing team’s passing game.

Of course, Harrison may have had one of the last laughs against the Patriots as when the two teams met again during the 2006 regular season, Harrison made arguably one of his greatest career catches–and for a touchdown at that, en route to a 27-20 Colts victory:

In fact, after the receiver rule re-emphasis from 2005-08 (i.e. the remainder of #88’s illustrious career), Harrison’s Colts teams actually went 4-1 against the Patriots–including a 2006 AFC Championship Game victory which led to the Colts becoming Super Bowl XLI Champions.