Jim Irsay is digging up an old Patriots-Colts controversy

Jim Irsay watches before an NFL football game.
Jim Irsay watches before an NFL football game. –AJ Mast/AP

Jim Irsay was brimming with praise for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft. The Colts owner brushed aside Deflategate, and he talked at length about the Patriots’ accomplishments.

But he did so after digging into an old wound between the Patriots and Colts organizations.

“Our focus isn’t even there (on Deflategate) at all, but you’re always looking at having a competitive playing field,’’ Irsay told WTHR.com. “I remember in Peyton (Manning)’s day, there was an unnamed team (the Patriots), we were running the no huddle and the team we were playing was faking injuries to slow us down. And we were complaining to the league about that. But honestly, the rest of it, it’s not even in the back of our mind. Look, (Patriots owner) Bob Kraft is a great friend, a great partner and a great owner. Brady is great and a world champion. What Bill (Belichick) does is amazing. …

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“So it’s going to be a challenge Sunday. We haven’t been competitive against their team and we know that.’’

Controversy is deeply embedded in the Patriots and Colts’ relationship.

During a 2003 regular season matchup between the two teams, Manning was driving on what could have been a game-winning drive. The up-tempo offense was too fast for the Patriots — until former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest went down with an apparent injury. The Patriots, who had no timeouts, had a moment to rest.

But a few plays later, McGinest stuffed Edgerrin James on a 4th-and-1, which led to a Patriots’ win. And some questioned whether McGinest faked the injury.

“That was an amazing recovery,’’ Manning said after the game. ‘’I thought they should have been penalized for having to stop the clock with no timeouts, but that didn’t go our way either.’’

McGinest denied faking an injury.

But Belichick’s relationship with the Colts organization isn’t all bad. He was a special assistant with the Baltimore Colts in 1975.

“About four years ago, I sent him a division championship ring from the team he was on, the 1975 Colts, sent him a ring and a note. I have a lot of respect for those guys, love the rivalry, love what it’s been, even going back to when (Drew) Bledsoe got hurt and this guy Brady was coming in against our Jim Mora-coached team and we had no idea. We got annihilated. We didn’t know this was something that was really special that would last for decades.’’

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It was almost a touching interview, until Irsay started talking about an “unnamed team.’’

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