Ask Colts owner Jim Irsay about Boston as a music town, and his eyes light up.
“J. Geils Band, Aerosmith — it’s such a great rock ‘n’ roll city,” Irsay said this past week.
Patriots fans know Irsay, 63, as the outspoken, occasionally troubled owner of the Colts, their biggest rival during the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning days of the 2000s. But Irsay is also an avid music fan and memorabilia collector, and has used his fortune to befriend many legends of classic rock and amass an impressive collection of guitars and artifacts.
He puts it all together with The Jim Irsay Band and Jim Irsay Collection, a traveling concert and museum that visits a different city each year. For 2023, his 10th show, Irsay chose Boston, renting out TD Garden for a free concert and exhibit July 15. Fans can sign up for free tickets at JimIrsayCollection.com, and are encouraged to donate to Irsay’s charity Kicking The Stigma to raise awareness about mental health.
“Playing the Garden, it’s an honor to play such a special arena like that,” Irsay said in an interview with the Globe at the owners’ meetings in Minnesota. “We have a lot of fun, and it’s an attempt to give back to people, to have the shows for free, and bring in all the memorabilia and give people a special night.”
Irsay’s show isn’t just for rock lovers — the programming will be heavy on homages to the Patriots-Colts rivalry, focusing mostly on the Brady-Manning days. Irsay said he plans to have fun with being in enemy territory in Boston.
“I have such a great relationship with the Krafts, and so many memories there, starting with the championship game in 2003 and everything that transpired after that, which was a lot of stuff,” Irsay said. “It’s an era that we miss, so we’ll probably get a little nostalgic and try to combine some with that. There’s a lot of fun content that can be created from the rivalry.”
Colts Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James is expected to participate throughout the night to help hype up the crowd. Irsay has invited Robert and Jonathan Kraft, but said they may be out of the country at the time, and “certainly I’m going to make an invitation to Bill Belichick, for sure. Bill coached for us in ‘75.”
“I don’t know if I can get Tom Brady and Peyton to throw out a football. That would be fun,” Irsay said. “We’re going to try to embrace the Patriots-Colts thing in a fun way. Might even do a mini documentary about the rivalry and then kind of cross over to music and all that sort of thing.”
The memorabilia, which will be staged on the concourse at TD Garden, is certainly impressive, with guitars and artifacts from Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, James Brown, and more. Irsay said he recently added guitars from Eddie Van Halen and one signed by Paul McCartney and Joe Walsh.
The museum isn’t just about music, either. Irsay has Secretariat’s saddle, JFK’s rocking chair, the title belt from Ali-Foreman’s “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974, Abraham Lincoln’s pocket knife, an 1823 printing of the Declaration of Independence, and more.
“I don’t think Boston really realizes the type of memorabilia and museum we’re going to be bringing in there. No one does until they see it,” Irsay said. “Of course, it’s the greatest guitar collection in the world — bar none, can’t be denied at all.”
The highlight of the night, though, should be the performance of The Jim Irsay Band, a nine-piece outfit that includes bassist Mike Mills, a founder of R.E.M.; legendary drummer Kenny Aronoff, who has played with everyone from John Mellencamp to McCartney, Willie Nelson, and the Smashing Pumpkins; and lead guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, a five-time Grammy nominee and “kind of our Michael Jordan,” Irsay said.
When the band plays Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” Shepherd plays the solos on one of David Gilmore’s guitars.
“You just don’t see that kind of art anywhere,” Irsay said. “It’s like seeing the Mona Lisa and the next thing you know people are passing it around.”
Irsay doesn’t play much guitar anymore, but he contributes vocals on four or five songs and otherwise acts as ringleader as the band plays a set of about 28 songs. Irsay also hopes to have special guests appear at the show, including the front man of a certain Hall of Fame rock band from Boston.
“I’ve been talking to Steven Tyler. He’s a good friend and I know he wants to do it, it’s just that they’re getting ready for a world tour,” Irsay said. “We talked a long time and I said, ‘Look, man, if you can’t come, honestly there’s no pressure.’ And he appreciated it a lot, because he’s a sensitive guy, a really nice guy. He basically just didn’t want to feel like he was letting me down if he couldn’t.”
“But Steven’s doing great —  years old, in really great health. These days the only bar he sees has lettuce and tomatoes, so that’s helping his health a lot. I’m so proud of him, he’s doing great and it would be great for him to show up.”
Work pays off for Everett’s Cine
At first glance there wasn’t much remarkable about the presence of No. 6 in the Vikings’ secondary during Tuesday’s offseason practice. He was running smoothly, moving all over the formation, and learning his new defense alongside the other returning veteran players.
But the fact that safety Lewis Cine was out there at all, let alone participating in full-team reps, was an incredible accomplishment. It came about seven months after Cine, an Everett native who was the Vikings’ first-round pick a year ago, suffered a horrific compound fracture of his left ankle during a game in London.
It was a gruesome open wound that required two surgeries and forced Cine to stay an extra week in London before transferring home. It obviously ended his season, and created a lot of doubt for Cine, who led Everett High to two MIAA state championships before starring at Georgia.
“There was a point, I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to come back and play football,” Cine told the Globe after Tuesday’s practice. “The opportunity I’ve been given, I’m going to make the most of it, and I cherish every play, every minute on this grass. It could be taken from you this quickly.”
In the seven months since the injury, Cine (pronounced “seen”) has barely left the Vikings’ campus, sinking his entire existence into rehabbing his ankle and staying on top of the defense. The Vikings and Twin Cities Orthopedics opened a training facility and surgery/rehab center in 2018 that has allowed Cine to do everything in one place.
“You attack rehab or allow rehab to attack me, and I was not going to go out that way,” he said. “It’s a grind. I have to think about, be where my feet were, and not look too far ahead. Because you get frustrated — you’re not walking in time, you’re not making certain progress, you’re not seeing it. Just be where my feet are.”
New Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores cautioned that Cine has a long way to go, but said he notices Cine “working, working, working, and working.” Cine said he began running and cutting in early March and expects to be full go for training camp in August.
“I meant what I said when I said nothing’s going to keep me back for this season,” Cine said. “Not being able to play all that time really made me realize the type of life I have. I’m blessed, and now that I’m back here I’m going to cherish every moment.”
Newer owners flexed muscles
A few leftover items from two days of NFL owners’ meetings in Minnesota:
▪ The new rule allowing flex scheduling on Thursday nights for Weeks 13-17 passed by the narrowest 24-8 margin. One owner pointed out that almost all of the “no” votes came from the old guard of NFL stewardship — Giants (Mara), Bears (McCaskey), Raiders (Davis), Lions (Ford), Bengals (Brown), Steelers (Rooney), and Packers (no owner), plus the Jets (Johnson). But the new guard of multi-billionaire owners has the power in today’s NFL.
Raiders owner Mark Davis told me he voted no because flexing games isn’t fair to fans who pay the highest prices in the NFL for hotels and secondary-market tickets to come to Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, the NFL put in so many caveats to the flexing rule that there’s a good chance it won’t be used this year, in which case it will roll over to 2024. Flexing is only for games in Weeks 13-17, and the required 28 days of advance notice will make it tough to identify games that are truly horrific and worthy of flexing.
“If you can tell after Week 10 which games are going to be dogs in Week 15, more power to you,” tweeted Fox Sports’ Mark Mulvihill.
▪ The Patriots had a bit of a contentious week. First they learned they were being docked two practice days for holding too many late meetings during voluntary workout days. Then they were one of six teams to vote “no” on the new kickoff rule that was approved but is widely loathed by special teams coaches for taking kickoffs out of the game. Credit the Krafts for voting with Bill Belichick and not commissioner Roger Goodell on an issue that was the commissioner’s pet project. Also voting no were the Bengals, Bears, Lions, and, of course, John Harbaugh and the Ravens. The Raiders abstained.
▪ Dan Snyder may have agreed to sell the Commanders to Josh Harris for $6.05 billion, but the deal definitely has issues and won’t be approved for several more weeks if not months.
“It’s a complicated deal, so we’re trying to just work through it,” said Colts owner Jim Irsay, who is on the NFL’s finance committee.
Specifically, there are questions whether Harris can put up 30 percent of the sale price himself, the structure of the debt, and the number of limited partners involved. Irsay didn’t seem thrilled about the prospect of changing the rules to accommodate Harris’s group. The last two teams were bought by multi-billionaire, single-family owners.
“It’s tough, because it has to comply like the Waltons complied and [Dave] Tepper complied, and everyone knew the rules up front before they submitted a bid what the league rules are,” Irsay said. “We wouldn’t change rules now. That’s the reason they’re there. We thought long and hard about where the rules are at and they’re there for a reason. Just like the Walton sale, we’re looking for the same sort of cooperation.
“That being said, I think everyone’s really hopeful that we can get a deal done.”
It is surprising that the NFL couldn’t find a better bid for the Commanders than the complicated one being put forth by Harris. It goes to show how badly Snyder has damaged that franchise, and how badly the NFL wants to be rid of him.
“I think we’ll get [the bid] to a place where it needs to be to be approved,” Goodell said.
▪ An interesting visitor to the lobby of the Omni Viking Lakes Hotel on Monday night: Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores, who is suing the 32 men who gathered at the hotel for meetings. The hotel sits a few hundred yards from the Vikings’ practice facility and he came by to say hello to coaches and other people involved in the NFL’s Coach Accelerator Program.
Raiders await Brady
Davis was mum about Tom Brady’s potential role with the Raiders, as Brady’s deal to buy a small slice of the team still has to pass the NFL’s vetting process. But Davis was quick with the fun fact that Brady will soon become the third player in NFL history to become at least a part-owner, joining George Halas and Jerry Richardson.
Josh McDaniels told Las Vegas reporters Thursday that Brady will “100 percent” have to admit that the Tuck Rule play from 2002 was a fumble.
“It’ll obviously be a tremendous honor to partner up with him again,” McDaniels said.
Meanwhile, the Raiders were no longer able to keep secret the fact that Jimmy Garoppolo had foot surgery in March to correct the injury he suffered last season. Garoppolo tried to heal naturally, but the Raiders examined him during a free agent visit in March and recommended surgery before signing him to a three-year deal, one with two years and $34 million guaranteed.
The Raiders expect Garoppolo to be healthy for the season, but it’s certainly not ideal when your new quarterback can’t practice with his teammates during the spring and may have to be limited during training camp.
This offseason has been a busy one for Patriots defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington, now in his sixth year with the club. Covington first was given an opportunity to serve as defensive coordinator at this year’s Senior Bowl, and this past week was in Minneapolis at the Patriots’ behest for three days of networking with owners, executives, and industry leaders as part of the Coach Accelerator Program. “Obviously it’s a blessing and an honor for them to recommend me for the Senior Bowl, to recommend me to come here,” said Covington, who has been coaching since 2011. “I definitely don’t take that lightly at all. Just hope I can continue to do a good job for them, and do a good job for the position group, for our whole defense and our organization, represent us the right way.” . . . The NFL continues its gold rush into foreign countries, with the Saints becoming the first team to be granted exclusive marketing rights into France, the Steelers and Jaguars getting Ireland, and the Patriots, Buccaneers, and Chiefs adding Austria and Switzerland to Germany. The Steelers have already said they would like to play a regular-season game in Ireland, and the Saints are eyeing a game at the stadium of soccer powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain . . . The Bay Area hosted one Super Bowl in the game’s first 49 years (Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium), but now gets its second Super Bowl in the last decade. Levi’s Stadium hosted Super Bowl 50 between the Broncos and Panthers, and will get Super Bowl LX in February 2026 . . . Organizers say the 2025 NFL Draft will likely be the largest event ever to come to Green Bay, with approximately 250,000 people expected . . . Austin Ekeler huffed, puffed, threatened a hold out, and got practically bupkis — an additional $1.75 million in incentives. It doesn’t matter that Ekeler is one of the best all-purpose weapons in the NFL. Running backs simply have no leverage . . . Aaron Rodgers shows up to Jets OTAs after skipping them the last few years in Green Bay, and immediately tweaks his calf and sits out practice. Maybe he was right all along.
Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.