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Jim Irsay promises “a great renaissance” for the Colts

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With question marks surrounding Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts would be lucky to be in the playoff race toward the end of the season.

During the Peyton Manning era, and the start of the Andrew Luck era, the Colts were one of the best franchises in the NFL: From 1999 to 2014, the Colts made the playoffs 14 times in 16 seasons. But that now feels like a long time ago.

Indianapolis has missed the playoffs three years in a row and is coming off a 4-12 season that led to the firing of Chuck Pagano and the botched attempt to hire Josh McDaniels before finally settling on new head coach Frank Reich. That may not sound like the recipe for a return to greatness, but that’s exactly what Colts owner Jim Irsay said fans can expect, telling the Indianapolis Star that “a great renaissance period is about to unfold upon us.”

Irsay drew criticism for promising last year that Luck would be ready for Week One, only for Luck to end up missing not only Week One but also Week 17 and every week in between. But this year Irsay is again insisting that Luck is good to go, and in fact saying Luck will be better than ever.

“Trust me when I say this,” Irsay said, “it’s made him a better football player, and a better man, a guy in the end who is going to give us even a better chance for greatness. I really felt confident that this guy was going to be back on the field [last year]. I, like many of our fans, didn’t expect him to miss the season he missed. That was a surprise. A surprise to him, too.”

Irsay went so far as to say he could see Luck becoming one of the greatest players in the history of the game of football.

“He has a fire burning deep in his heart and his soul to win, and to really kick some butt,” Irsay said. “Really deep inside of him. That is what you look for, that is what you want in guys like that.”

Irsay believes the Colts are headed for another long run of success: “I think we got a chance for real, real greatness.”