Jim Irsay
refer to caption
Irsay in 2022
Indianapolis Colts
Personal information
Born:June 13, 1959 (1959-06-13) (age 63)
Lincolnwood, Illinois
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 owner 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

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.

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",[7] 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.[8]

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.[9][10][11][12][13]

Personal life

Irsay married Meg Coyle in 1980, and the couple have three daughters, Carlie, Casey and Kalen. After being separated since 2003, Meg filed for divorce on November 21, 2013.[14]

On March 16, 2014, Irsay was arrested under suspicion of DUI and drug possession in Carmel, Indiana.[15][16] According to The Indianapolis Star sports columnist Bob Kravitz, Irsay had an ongoing drug problem.[17] 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.[18][19]

Irsay's daughter, Carlie, took over the day-to-day operations of the Colts while he was in rehab.[20] 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.[21]

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

Notable memorabilia collection

Outside of football, Irsay has made significant investments in music and memorabilia. 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.[22]

Irsay has purchased guitars originally owned by Elvis Presley,[23] George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jerry Garcia ("Tiger"),[23] Prince, Les Paul’s 1954 Black Beauty[24] and other notable performers.[25] His purchases have set records: in 2014 he bought the electric guitar that Bob Dylan played at Newport for just under US$1 million[26] and in 2017 he paid US$2.2 million for a Ludwig drum set belonging to Ringo Starr.[27] 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.[28] 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."[29] 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.


  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. ^ "Colts owner says he's against Rush Limbaugh buying Rams". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. October 13, 2009. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  8. ^ "Irsay: There's 'merit' to remove Snyder as owner". ESPN.com. October 18, 2022. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  9. ^ Stankevitz, JJ (November 7, 2022). "Colts Name Jeff Saturday Interim Head Coach". colts.com. Retrieved November 7, 2022.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Orr, Conor (November 7, 2022). "The Jeff Saturday Hiring Is a Crushing Defeat for Many Coaches". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  12. ^ Holder, Stephen (November 8, 2022). "Colts' Jim Irsay defends Jeff Saturday hire: 'Fully capable'". ESPN.com. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  13. ^ Scott, Jelani (November 7, 2022). "Jeff Saturday Was 'Shocked' When Colts' Jim Irsay Offered Him Coaching Job". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  14. ^ Chappell, Mike (November 21, 2013). "Wife of Colts owner Jim Irsay files for divorce". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  15. ^ Brown, Kristen. "Jim Irsay arrested in Carmel". WISHTV.com. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  16. ^ "Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested". Espn.go.com. January 1, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  17. ^ "Kravitz: Jim Irsay fighting for his life, needs help". Indystar.com. March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  18. ^ Evans, Tim (October 15, 2014). "The first look at the association between Jim Irsay and Kimberly Wundrum". indystar.com. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  19. ^ Braziller, Zach (October 16, 2014). "Ex-mistress overdose in background of Colts owner's pill arrest". nypost.com. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "NFL suspends Colts owner Jim Irsay for 6 games". Indystar.com. September 2, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  22. ^ McCartney, Anthony (May 5, 2018). "Alcoholics Anonymous founding document sells for $2.4M". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Fieldstadt, Elisha (June 26, 2016). "'Yellow Cloud' Prince Guitar Bought by Jim Irsay for $137,500 at Auction". NBC News. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ 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
  28. ^ "Jim Irsay sets auction record by spending $3.975 million for David Gilmour guitar". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  29. ^ 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.

External links

Jim Irsay on Twitter Edit this at Wikidata