Owner Robert Irsay of the Baltimore Colts said today he will talk to his team Sunday "about what I'd like to do to Denver."
Irsay held an impromptu press conference in the Colts' complex, and discussed his views on quarterback John Elway. The Colts drafted Elway No. 1 last spring, then traded him to Denver after he said he wouldn't play in Baltimore.
"I will give a pep talk to the team," Irsay said. "Well, not a pep talk, but an opinion about what I'd like to do to Denver. The bottom line is we want to beat Denver extra special because of all the criticism and what has gone on about the trade. We've got to beat Denver."
Irsay said the only football game he wanted to win more than Sunday's against Denver (in Memorial Stadium at 4 p.m.) was the AFC playoff game against Oakland in 1977. (Oakland won, 37-31, in overtime).
"Mr. Elway was considered the top athlete in this country," Irsay said. "We chased him. We visited him several times. I still think he'll be the top quarterback in years to come. But I don't like Mr. Elway's approach on trying to tell the NFL where he should go and what he should get.
"It's not resentment. It's a matter of a rookie from college coming into the NFL, telling us our system is wrong. He did not get what he wanted; he wanted to play on the West Coast. Well, he's 1,100 miles away from the West Coast."
Irsay then defended the trade he made, sending Elway to Denver in exchange for quarterback Mark Herrmann and offensive lineman Chris Hinton. "I think it's one of the outstanding trades," Irsay said, "even better than the Bert Jones and John Dutton trades (that sent the Colts high draft choices)."
Irsay said he expects 40,000 (not a sellout) for Sunday's game, and thanked the reporters, "because the more you write about Elway, the more people will show up."
Irsay declined to elaborate on his talk to the team, except, "I'll say, 'Win one for the Gipper.' "
When asked if the Colt players thought of him as the Gipper, Irsay said, "They will when I finish the pep talk."