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Colts risk a fraud lawsuit from season-ticket holders


In some contexts, B.S. is simply that. In other contexts, B.S. has another name.


As the Colts keep talking about what they knew and when they knew it about quarterback Andrew Luck, it’s become more and more clear that there’s at least thick smoke -- and quite possibly a raging fire -- regarding the possibility that the team deliberately disseminated false information in order to entice customers to renew their season tickets.

Here’s what owner Jim Irsay said on Twitter, back in January: “Andrew recovering from successful outpatient surgery to fix right shoulder injury that had lingered since 2015. Will be ready for season!”

As we now know, Luck won’t play in 2017. And so the question becomes whether Irsay was accidentally or deliberately inaccurate in January, when he made a promise that Luck “will be ready for season!” before fans had to decide whether to buy an expensive package of two preseason and eight regular-season game tickets that would allow them to enjoy the exploits of Andrew Luck.

Even without the Colts saying anything more, the circumstances reveal sufficient evidence to launch a class action on behalf of all season-ticket holders, on the basis that they were falsely induced to buy the tickets under the premise that Luck will play. Other things said by the Colts only strengthen that potential claim.

Most significantly, and most recently, G.M. Chris Ballard agreed to submit to an interview with Dan Dakich of 1070 The Fan. The interview quickly became a cross-examination, and Ballard did not hold up well under questioning.

“There’s not been one point where we’ve said or put a timeline on this,” Ballard said, flat-out ignoring the “will be ready for season!” timeline Irsay applied in January. When confronted with Irsay’s promise, Ballard said that Irsay was simply being an “eternal optimist.”

That won’t cut it if/when Irsay faces questioning under oath by a lawyer. It will be very easy to compare Irsay’s remarks to information provided to him by doctors and then to twist Irsay in knots while he tries to talk his way out of a jam but inevitably makes it all much, much worse.

Irsay wouldn’t be the only one who testifies, if an ambitious Indianapolis lawyer finds a season-ticket holder who relied on the promise of Luck’s presence and sues on behalf of that season-ticket holder and all others. Luck himself at one point will get an invitation to the party, and he’ll have to answer questions about a text that Dakich claims Luck sent to someone who showed it to a media member Dakich knows.

The text said, per Dakich, “I’m nowhere near ready. They’re putting me out here to sell tickets.”

Ballard dismissed the claim, quickly.

“Anybody that knows Andrew and has received texts from Andrew knows that most of the time they are two characters or three characters long,” Ballard said. “‘Yes’ or ‘no’. He still has a flip phone, which aren’t the easiest things to text with. So for anybody to say that Andrew made that text or made that remark, I would say that’s a fabrication on their part.”

Fabrication will be the key word if the Colts ever face civil liability for the things said and done to get the fan base to buy season tickets at a time when Luck’s status wasn’t nearly as positive as Irsay made it out to be. If an ambitious prosecutor in Indianapolis becomes intrigued by the case, civil liability could be the least of Irsay’s worries.