Jim Irsay

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jim Irsay
refer to caption
Irsay in 2022
Indianapolis Colts
Position:Owner & CEO
Personal information
Born:June 13, 1959 (1959-06-13) (age 63)
Lincolnwood, Illinois, U.S.
Career information
Career history
As an executive:
Career highlights and awards

James Irsay (born June 13, 1959) is an American businessman, known for being the principal owner, chairman and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League (NFL).

Irsay's father, Robert Irsay, built a fortune estimated to be over $150 million through successful heating and air-conditioning companies.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Irsay was born in Lincolnwood, Illinois, the son of Harriet (née Pogorzelski) and Chicago businessman Robert Irsay.[2] His father was from a Hungarian Jewish[3] family and his mother was the daughter of Polish Catholic immigrants. Irsay was raised Catholic, and did not know about his father's Jewish heritage until he was fourteen.[4][5] Jim's brother, Thomas Irsay, was born with a mental disability and died in 1999, and his sister, Roberta, died in a car accident in 1971. Irsay attended high school at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois a suburb just north of Chicago and at Mercersburg Academy '78, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. After high school, he attended, and graduated from, Southern Methodist University in 1982 with a degree in broadcast journalism. Irsay played linebacker for the SMU Mustangs football team as a walk-on,[6] but an ankle injury ended his playing career.


Irsay was 12 years old when his father, Robert Irsay, acquired the Baltimore Colts, after initially purchasing the Los Angeles Rams, then swapping franchises with Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom. After graduating from SMU in 1982, he joined the Colts' professional staff. He was named Vice President and General Manager in 1984, one month after the Colts relocated from Baltimore, to Indianapolis. After his father suffered a stroke in 1995, Jim assumed day-to-day management with the role of Senior Executive Vice President, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer in April 1996. When his father died in 1997 Jim engaged in a legal battle with his stepmother over ownership of the team, but later became the youngest NFL team owner at that time at 37.

Since Jim took over in 1995, the Colts have compiled a 258-191-1 regular season record. According to Pro Football Reference, the 258 wins are the fourth-most in the NFL over that time frame.[7] The team has won 10 division titles, made the playoffs 18 times, appeared in two Super Bowls and won Super Bowl XLI.[8][9] Indianapolis won 115 regular season games from 2000–09, which is the second-most in a decade by any NFL team.[10][11]

Since joining the organization in 1984, Irsay has worked with numerous Pro Football Hall of Fame coaches, players and executives, including Eric Dickerson (Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 1999), Marshall Faulk (2011), Bill Polian (2015), Tony Dungy (2016), Marvin Harrison (2016), Edgerrin James (2020) and Peyton Manning (2021).[12]

In 2009, Irsay was vocal about preventing a group that included talk-show host Rush Limbaugh from purchasing the St. Louis Rams. "I, myself, couldn't even consider voting for him," Irsay said at an NFL owners meeting. "When there are comments that have been made that are inappropriate, incendiary and insensitive... our words do damage, and it's something we don't need",[13] referring to comments Limbaugh made about Donovan McNabb in 2003, when he was an NFL commentator for ESPN. Irsay has made political contributions to John Edwards and Harry Reid.

In October 2022 at a National Football League owner's meeting, Irsay said he believed "that there’s merit to remove Daniel Snyder as the owner of the Washington Commanders" amid calls for Snyder to sell the franchise.[14]

Irsay came under scrutiny in November 2022 when he fired Colts head coach Frank Reich after a 3–5–1 start to the season and replaced him with former Colts player Jeff Saturday as interim head coach. Saturday previously had no coaching experience beyond the high school football level, and was employed as an NFL analyst for ESPN at the time of his hiring.[15][16][17][18][19]


Irsay and his family have donated to various projects and programs across Indiana, including the Irsay Family YMCA,[20][21] the downtown Indianapolis Colts Canal Playspace,[22] Riley Hospital for Children,[23][24] Wheeler Mission Center for Women & Children,[25] Indiana University’s Irsay Research Institute[26] and many others.

On November 20, 2022, Irsay donated $1 million to the Indianapolis Zoo. The zoo is currently undergoing a renovation and the gift will assist with the building of a new Indianapolis Colts Welcome Center Plaza.[27] The project is set to be complete by Memorial Day 2023.[28][29][30][31]

In late 2020, the Irsay family launched Kicking The Stigma, which is dedicated to "raise awareness about mental health disorders and to remove the shame and stigma too often associated with these illnesses."[32] The foundation has numerous partner organizations, including Mental Health America of Indiana,[33] National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Indianapolis,[34] Project Healthy Minds[35] and Bring Change to Mind.[36] As of late 2022, Kicking The Stigma had committed more than $17 million (through action grants and personal donations by the Irsay family) towards its initiatives. In 2022, a total of $1.4 million in action grants were distributed to 23 nonprofits and organizations in the mental health sector.[37] In 2021, the action grants totaled $2.7 million and were gifted to 16 groups.[38]

In December 2021, the Irsay family donated $3 million to Indiana University to create a research institute dedicated to studying mental health and the stigma associated with it.[39] The donation was an extension of Kicking The Stigma. Named the Irsay Family Research Institute,[40] the center will be located on IU's Bloomington campus in Morrison Hall. Some of the focuses of the center will be providing support for research, analyzing sociomedical sciences, advancing more graduates trained in the mental health field and promoting mental health more locally and nationally.[41]

Irsay has been a staunch supporter of former Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who beat acute promyelocytic leukemia after being diagnosed in September 2012. Pagano, who served as head coach of the team from 2012–17, hosts his Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala every year in Indianapolis. Since 2012, the galas have raised more than $12 million for research at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center,[42] where Pagano received treatment.[43] The gala has been hosted at the Colts' Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center[44] as well as Jim Irsay's house. In 2021, Irsay hosted the gala at his house and donated $2 million to the IU cancer research after Pagano made a free throw for $1 million and 10 layups for $100,000 apiece on Irsay's basketball court.[45]

Personal life[edit]

Irsay married Meg Coyle in 1980, and the couple have three daughters, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, Casey Foyt and Kalen Jackson, as well as 10 grandchildren. After being separated since 2003, Meg filed for divorce on November 21, 2013.[46]

On March 16, 2014, Irsay was arrested under suspicion of DUI and drug possession in Carmel, Indiana.[47][48] According to The Indianapolis Star sports columnist Bob Kravitz, Irsay had an ongoing drug problem.[49] This was highlighted when it was later revealed that Irsay's mistress, Kimberly Wundrum, had overdosed and died in a house that Irsay controversially purchased with money belonging to the Indianapolis Colts.[50][51]

Irsay's daughter, Carlie, took over the day-to-day operations of the Colts while he was in rehab.[52] On September 2, 2014, shortly after pleading guilty to OWI and being sentenced to one year of probation, Irsay was suspended by the NFL for six games and fined $500,000.[53]

Irsay appeared as himself in the episodes "Two Parties" and "Fluoride" of the sitcom Parks and Recreation.

According to the IndyStar,[54] Irsay was an accomplished weightlifter and competed in super heavyweight championships in the 1980s, all while serving as the general manager of the Colts. He would lift weights with Colts players and could squat over 700 pounds. Following his weightlifting career, Irsay ran marathons and could finish 26.2 miles in three hours and 40 minutes.

Irsay with the Fender Stratocaster played by Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival.

The Jim Irsay Collection[edit]

Outside football, Irsay has made significant investments in music and memorabilia with The Jim Irsay Collection.[55] In 2001 Irsay purchased the original manuscript of On the Road, or "the scroll": a continuous, one hundred twenty-foot scroll of tracing paper sheets that Jack Kerouac cut to size and taped together, for $2.43 million. On May 5, 2018, he purchased an original printing of the 1939 book Alcoholics Anonymous with notes handwritten by the author Bill Wilson, cofounder of AA, for $2.4 million at auction.[56]

In 2021, Guitar Magazine dubbed Irsay as owner of, "The greatest guitar collection on Earth."[57]

Irsay has purchased guitars originally owned by Elvis Presley,[58] George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jerry Garcia ("Tiger"),[58] Prince, Les Paul’s 1954 Black Beauty[59] and other notable performers.[60] His purchases have set records: in 2014 he bought the electric guitar that Bob Dylan played at Newport for just under US$1 million[61] and in 2017 he paid US$2.2 million for a Ludwig drum set belonging to Ringo Starr.[62] On June 20, 2019, Irsay paid a record $3.975 million for a guitar, known as The Black Strat, formerly owned by Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour.[63] On May 23, 2022, Irsay paid a record $4.6 million for the 1969 Fender Mustang played by Nirvana's Kurt Cobain in the music video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit."[64] On July 25, 2022 Irsay purchased Muhammad Ali's "Rumble In The Jungle" championship belt for $6.18 million after a 2 hour bidding war.[65] In 2023, Irsay acquired the saddle used by Secretariat when he won the American Triple Crown in 1973.[66][67]

The Jim Irsay Band[edit]

Irsay has his own all-star band, The Jim Irsay Band, and has hosted free concerts across the country in Nashville, Tenn.,[68][69] Washington, D.C.,[70][71] Austin, Tex.,[72][73] Los Angeles,[74][75] New York City,[76][77][78][79] Chicago,[80][81][82] Indianapolis,[83][84][85] San Francisco[86][87][88] and eventually Las Vegas.[89][90] Among the artists that have performed with the band are singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, guitarist/singer Buddy Guy, singer-songwriter John Hiatt, guitarist Mike Wanchic, bassist Mike Mills, guitarist Tom Bukovac, guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, drummer Kenny Aronoff, keyboardist Michael Ramos and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer Ann Wilson among others.[80] Pieces from The Jim Irsay Collection travel with the band and are on display.


  1. ^ "NFL Team Owner Profiles: Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts". Bleacher Report.
  2. ^ O'Neill, John R. (January 15, 1997). "Robert Irsay obituary". .indystar.com. Archived from the original on November 25, 2002. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  3. ^ Swift, E.M. (December 15, 1986). "Now You See Him, Now You Don't". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on August 5, 2010.
  4. ^ Bogen, Amir (June 20, 1995). "The Colts' Jewish roots - Israel Culture, Ynetnews". Ynetnews. Ynetnews.com. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  5. ^ "Mother of Colts owner dies at age 87". USA Today. Associated Press. July 12, 2008. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  6. ^ Jesse Outlar, "Ex-Gator Roommates Own Four of Last Five PGA Titles," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 9, 1978, p. 2-D.
  7. ^ "Get The Most Accurate Football Stats". Stathead.com. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  8. ^ "Colts vs. Bears - NFL Game Recap - February 4, 2007". ESPN. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  9. ^ "Remembering Colts' 2006 season, Super Bowl XLI: Tony Dungy". WTTV CBS4Indy. November 14, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  10. ^ "Most Wins In A Decade NFL History". StatMuse. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  11. ^ "Decade of Dominance | Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site". pfhof. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  12. ^ "Years | Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site". pfhof. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  13. ^ "Colts owner says he's against Rush Limbaugh buying Rams". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. October 13, 2009. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  14. ^ "Irsay: There's 'merit' to remove Snyder as owner". ESPN.com. October 18, 2022. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  15. ^ Stankevitz, JJ (November 7, 2022). "Colts Name Jeff Saturday Interim Head Coach". colts.com. Retrieved November 7, 2022.
  16. ^ Howe, Jeff (November 8, 2022). "NFL execs bewildered by Colts' hiring of Jeff Saturday: 'Crazy,' 'Never seen anything like it'". The Athletic. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  17. ^ Orr, Conor (November 7, 2022). "The Jeff Saturday Hiring Is a Crushing Defeat for Many Coaches". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  18. ^ Holder, Stephen (November 8, 2022). "Colts' Jim Irsay defends Jeff Saturday hire: 'Fully capable'". ESPN.com. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  19. ^ Scott, Jelani (November 7, 2022). "Jeff Saturday Was 'Shocked' When Colts' Jim Irsay Offered Him Coaching Job". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  20. ^ Holder, Stephen. "Colts owner Jim Irsay to give millions to YMCA". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  21. ^ "Irsay Family YMCA At CityWay | YMCA Of Greater Indianapolis". September 6, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  22. ^ "Colts Unveil Canal Playspace". www.colts.com. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  23. ^ "Irsay gift expands behavioral health program". Riley Children's Foundation. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  24. ^ "Irsay family donates $650K to Riley children's mental health program". WRTV Indianapolis. January 4, 2022. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  25. ^ "Irsay family contributes to Wheeler Mission campaign to expand Center for Women and Children". Fox 59. September 18, 2018. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  26. ^ "Donate". The Irsay Institute. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  27. ^ "Capital Campaign". Indianapolis Zoo. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  28. ^ "Colts owner donates $1 million to Indianapolis Zoo". Fox 59. November 20, 2022. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  29. ^ "Colts owner Jim Irsay makes $1 million donation to Indianapolis Zoo". wthr.com. November 21, 2022. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  30. ^ Staff, I. B. J. "Irsay donates $1M to Indianapolis Zoo for welcome center". Indianapolis Business Journal. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  31. ^ Brown, Alex; Editor, Assistant Managing. "Irsay donates $1M to Indianapolis Zoo". Inside INdiana Business. Retrieved February 22, 2023. {{cite web}}: |last2= has generic name (help)
  32. ^ "The Official Website of the Indianapolis Colts". www.colts.com. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  33. ^ "Home". Mental Health America of Indiana. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  34. ^ "NAMI Greater Indianapolis - Home". sites.google.com. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  35. ^ "Project Healthy Minds". Project Healthy Minds. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  36. ^ "Bring Change to Mind - Let's Talk Mental Health". Bring Change to Mind. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  37. ^ "Colts owners announce $1.4 million in Kicking The Stigma grants". wthr.com. November 28, 2022. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  38. ^ "How Colts, Irsay Family's 'Kicking The Stigma' Is Impacting Mental Health Organizations In Indiana Through Action Grants". www.colts.com. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  39. ^ Staff, I. B. J. "Irsays to donate $3M to create IU research institute on mental health, stigma". Indianapolis Business Journal. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  40. ^ "Donate". The Irsay Institute. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  41. ^ "Irsays to donate $3 million to create IU research institute on mental health, stigma: In the News: About IUF: Indiana University Foundation: Indiana University". Indiana University Foundation. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  42. ^ "Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center". Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  43. ^ "Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala raises more than $2 million, marking a decade of dedication to IU cancer research". news. August 5, 2022. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  44. ^ Fowler, Ashley (July 25, 2022). "Former Colts head coach Pagano returning to Indy to celebrate 10 years of Chuckstrong". WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather | Indiana Traffic. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  45. ^ Calhoun, Anthony (July 30, 2021). "Must-see free throw by Chuck Pagano at Irsay's house for $1M for cancer research". WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather | Indiana Traffic. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  46. ^ Chappell, Mike (November 21, 2013). "Wife of Colts owner Jim Irsay files for divorce". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  47. ^ Brown, Kristen. "Jim Irsay arrested in Carmel". WISHTV.com. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  48. ^ "Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested". Espn.go.com. January 1, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  49. ^ "Kravitz: Jim Irsay fighting for his life, needs help". Indystar.com. March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  50. ^ Evans, Tim (October 15, 2014). "The first look at the association between Jim Irsay and Kimberly Wundrum". indystar.com. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  51. ^ Braziller, Zach (October 16, 2014). "Ex-mistress overdose in background of Colts owner's pill arrest". nypost.com. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  52. ^ Edholm, Eric (March 18, 2014). "Report: Jim Irsay's daughter, Carlie, to take over Colts' day-to-day operations". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  53. ^ "NFL suspends Colts owner Jim Irsay for 6 games". Indystar.com. September 2, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  54. ^ "Jim Irsay: The 'fat kid with glasses' turned power lifter who squatted 725lbs as Colts GM". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  55. ^ "The Jim Irsay Collection". www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  56. ^ McCartney, Anthony (May 5, 2018). "Alcoholics Anonymous founding document sells for $2.4M". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  57. ^ "The greatest guitar collection on Earth". Guitar.com | All Things Guitar. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  58. ^ a b Battista, Judy (February 3, 2016). "Irsay Can Get Satisfaction as the Laid-Back Owner of the Colts". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  59. ^ Scapelliti, Christopher (June 21, 2019). "Meet Jim Irsay, the Man Who Bought Les Paul's Black Beauty". Guitar Player. Future Publishing Limited Quay House. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  60. ^ Fieldstadt, Elisha (June 26, 2016). "'Yellow Cloud' Prince Guitar Bought by Jim Irsay for $137,500 at Auction". NBC News. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  61. ^ Kreps, Daniel. "Bob Dylan's Electric Guitar Back at Newport Fest for 50th Anniversary". Rolling Stone, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  62. ^ Kreps, Daniel (December 6, 2015). "Colts Owner: Why I Paid $2.2 Million for Ringo Starr's Drum Kit". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 18, 2017. reuniting Beatles' legendary instruments
  63. ^ "Jim Irsay sets auction record by spending $3.975 million for David Gilmour guitar". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  64. ^ Calfas, Jennifer (May 23, 2022). "Kurt Cobain's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Fender Guitar Sells for $4.6 Million". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  65. ^ "Jim Irsay pays $6M for Muhammad Ali's 'Rumble in the Jungle' belt". July 24, 2022. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  66. ^ Fowler, Ashley (February 21, 2023). "Irsay Collection acquires Secretariat's saddle from 1973 Triple Crown". WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather | Indiana Traffic. Retrieved February 27, 2023.
  67. ^ www.bloodhorse.com https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/266759/irsay-buys-saddle-used-in-secretariats-triple-crown. Retrieved February 27, 2023. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  68. ^ "The Jim Irsay Collection: Nashville Event". www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  69. ^ Stephenson, Jemma. "Colts owner Jim Irsay to display artifacts from Bob Dylan, The Beatles ahead of Titans game". The Tennessean. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  70. ^ "Jim Irsay hosting reception to showcase collection in Washington, D.C. Nov. 2". wthr.com. October 28, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  71. ^ "The Jim Irsay Collection visits Washington D.C." www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  72. ^ "The Jim Irsay Collection Visits Austin, TX". www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  73. ^ "Jim Irsay: The NFL owner marching to his own beat". www.ballysports.com. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  74. ^ "Los Angeles". www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  75. ^ Baltin, Steve. "Exclusive: Jim Irsay To Celebrate Jack Kerouac's Hundredth Birthday In L.A. With Cameron Crowe, R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons And More". Forbes. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  76. ^ "New York City". www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  77. ^ "Jim Irsay Brings His Iconic Memorabilia Collection to New York". Cheddar. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  78. ^ Powell, Alicia (June 3, 2022). "Billionaire's sports and music memorabilia collection on display in New York". Reuters. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  79. ^ "NFL Owner Irsay Takes $100 Million Memorabilia Collection on Tour". Bloomberg.com. June 2, 2022. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  80. ^ a b Argyrakis, Andy (August 3, 2022). "Collection and Jim Irsay Band with Heart, R.E.M. members, Buddy Guy, KWS impress Navy Pier". Chicago Concert Reviews. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  81. ^ "An evening with Jim Irsay's all-star band and 'priceless' traveling collection". August 4, 2022. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  82. ^ "Chicago". www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  83. ^ Appleton, Rory (September 10, 2022). "Mellencamp tops star-studded performances at Colts' fan appreciation night". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved February 3, 2023.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  84. ^ "Indianapolis". www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  85. ^ Robertson, Derek (January 30, 2022). "Jim Irsay Is On The Road Again". Indianapolis Monthly. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  86. ^ "The Jim Irsay Collection and All-Star Band Are Coming to San Francisco". www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  87. ^ "San Francisco". www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  88. ^ Homayun, Omaid. "Jim Irsay Is Bringing His Rock Concert And Historical Collection To San Francisco". Forbes. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  89. ^ "The Jim Irsay Collection". www.jimirsaycollection.com. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  90. ^ Radke, Brock (February 27, 2023). "Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay brings his concert and collection to Las Vegas - Las Vegas Sun Newspaper". lasvegassun.com. Retrieved February 27, 2023.

External links[edit]

Jim Irsay on Twitter Edit this at Wikidata