Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Personal Prerogative: How Colts Fans Found the Deep End and Leaped Off It

Former Jets and Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards famously had a press conference meltdown where he exclaimed, "You play to win the game!"

It's a novel concept. Playing to win the game. The Indianapolis Colts honestly took a brief hiatus from playing to win the game on Sunday and detoured into playing not to lose a potential shot at a championship. Against Edwards' former team, the New York Jets, and up 15-10, Colts coach Jim Caldwell benched Peyton Manning and most of the rest of the starting lineup. The Jets scored 19 straight points and went on to a 29-15 win over Indy ending the Colts hopes for an undefeated season.

After the game, Colts Vice President Bill Polian told reporters that an undefeated season never actually entered the discussion at the beginning of the year, and I honestly believe he is right. We can sit here and debate the wisdom of the move by the Colts or not, but I could hardly stomach what happened as the Colts bandwagon of fans quickly lost its wheels and fans got nasty.

As I listened to the radio yesterday to both sports and news call-in shows, they were mostly filled with seemingly near-suicidal Colts fans griping about ticket prices and stadium taxes. They were griping about how the dynasty had ended and the impending doom to come forth upon the team. Some called for Polian or Caldwell's heads over the whole incident. Before we do something rash, let's expand this discussion.

To all those fans calling for Polian's head: where were you when this team was 1-15 in 1991? I was there driving the bandwagon, and I can remember when you couldn't pay people to take Colts tickets. It's the leadership of Jim Irsay and, most recently, Bill Polian that have taken this team from a poor to mediocre bunch to the team that WON THE MOST GAMES THIS CENTURY! It's Polian's football mind that brought together the talent to deliver this city's first major league sports championship since the Pacers won the ABA titles in the late 60's and early 70's.

What has Polian done to you? Did he kick your cat? Spank your pet newt? Steal your Christmas presents? Break your yard gnomes? I mean...come on people! Bill Polian is one of the best football minds in the history of the NFL. I'm not going to turn my back on him or, by extension, Jim Caldwell, because they decided not to play to win a game in hopes of instead WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP. That's the big picture folks.

YOU PLAY TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP! The Colts have won enough games to decide how to play these last few games, and we clearly saw what would happen if Peyton Manning breaks an arm or a leg or blows out a knee (see Tom Brady's injury last year), or gets turf toe or whatever. Curtis Painter will not deliver a title. Plain and simple. That's not a knock on him (Colts fans owe him a big drink), but it's simply that Curtis Painter is no Peyton Manning. There's only one Dwight Freeney. There's only one Dallas Clark or Reggie Wayne. Without those people, we, as Colts fans, lose the chance for a Championship. I felt your pain yesterday, but the big picture isn't to be undefeated. The big picture is to be Super Bowl Champions.

Sure, the Colts blew it yesterday, but the chance to win another Super Bowl should excite fans. Instead, our fans, for the most part, acted like spoiled little children yesterday. I am ashamed of those fans that booed. As I said, I wasn't happy, and I think the timing could have been better but my goodness! You would think that Bill Polian was Art Modell and just announced he was taking the Browns to Baltimore here.

So, Colts fans...dry your tears...put away the hankies...it's over. The dynasty is still here. We have a locker room of professional football players and one of the best franchises in football. It's here in our city.

Yeah, and I don't want to hear anything about the Lucas Oil Stadium mess and how the Colts should be paying every city expense and changing your baby's diapers because we funded that stadium for them...blah blah. That's old and it has nothing to do with this particular argument. The Colts are doing what they believe is best to win a Championship for this city. That's the big picture!


Anonymous said...

I just cant imagine buying a ticket to watch a team not play. They are a good team with hard working players. I just can't feel good about the rationalizations that we did the right thing by losing.

Anonymous said...

Um, then why did Manning play 3.5 quarters (oh, yeah, to get 50,000 yards) and why did he play the first 3.5 quarters and not the last 3.5 quarters? There was no thought put into this decision and it's one that will cost the Colts the place in history.

Quick question: who won the 1972 or 1974 Super Bowl? No one knows or cares. Who one 1973? Oh yeah, the greatest team ever and they're from Miami. Indianapolis frittered away the opportunity to take that title from Miami and bring it to Indy. The fact that Polian and Co. don't care about that is sad.

Indymom said...

It's easy to rationalize this decision because we don't know if Peyton or one of the other starters would have been injured had they stayed in the game. Still, it's unfair to attack the fans who booed. You say yourself that you didn't like the decision, but yet you chastise the people who expressed their dislike? Let's give the fans some slack. They were disappointed and angry.
I don't blame them. If I had been silly enough to pay for tickets at the ridiculous prices they are sold for, I would be pretty angry, too. As for you and all the "I was a fan way back when.." folks. Enough! No one cares if you supported the team when they were 1-and-whatever. Many of us stuck with the Bears for a while after the Colts moved to Indy. It just wasn't that easy to change allegiances. Are we then forever banned from being fans or from expressing our allegiances?
Finally, as far as the taxes we are paying to support Lucas Oil Stadium, The sight of the stadium overshadowing the rest of the Indy downtown area is a glaring statement abour our screwed up city and state priorities. A few blocks away, Mitch Daniels is "fast-tracking" K-23 education cuts, yet he supported digging into the pockets of Hoosier families to support a team full of multi-millionaires. Personally, I don't think there's been ENOUGH protest about the stadium tax.

Dr. Paul said...

I think you hit the nail on the head!

In his landmark 1993 ESPYs speech, Jim Valvano gave the advice, "Don't give up, don't ever give up." What Valvano was saying was that we can never pack it in, rest on our laurels, etc. In this case, it's a part of the Colts strategy. Let the starters play enough to keep their rythmn, get 'em off the field against the best defense in the league so they don't get hurt. This game, against the New York flippin' Jets, was just a small piece of a broader context.

As for Beurt SerVaas demand for the Colts to refund tickets, get a life! Show me the place on the ticket where it says, "the starters are guaranteed to play the entire game." You won't. And if the Colts lose the refund battle, best believe that ever teacher Indianapolis should start demanding tax-free paychecks and suing students when they perform poorly. It makes a little more sense than demanding money back because a football team didn't do what you want them to.

Some people have the brilliant notion that this move will hurt the Colts in the long run, because they may see the Jets again in the playoffs. Okay, fair enough. um.... DO YOU REALLY WANT THE TOP DEFENSE IN THE NFL TO SEE EVERY LITTLE PIECE OF THE COLTS OFFENSE WITH THE STARTERS A COUPLE WEEKS BEFORE THEY MAY PLAY AGAIN? THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS DID THAT AND YOU SAW THE FRUITS OF THAT LABOR!!!!

For crying out loud people, this is not the BCS. It's not like they've killed their chances of going to the Super Bowl because they lost a game. You knew this was coming. We've dealt with this dillema since 2005. Sounds like Colts fans are just pissy because they wanted to feel special, and the Colts had other plans.

guy77money said...

I can't believe you spent a whole page of your blog wasting your time on this non issue. Yawn wake we when the playoffs start! ;)

Kyle said...

As of now the LAST full 4 quarters of football our starters played was against the Jags. They play 2 1/2 against the Jets, and they'll probably only play 2-2 1/2 against the Bills. Next game after that will be January 17th against who knows. That means there'll be 1 month with NO full game action for the starters. I hope Caldwell and Polian are able to pull this one off because IT HASN'T WORKED EVERY OTHER TIME WE'VE DONE THIS!!! We won in the Super Bowl when we kept our starters in there every game, all game.

Citizen Kane said...

I can't stand the Colts. That being said; it does not help them to pack it in, with two games left. Losing focus is the quickest way to exit the playoffs. I expect the Colts will be one and done. And because I hate the Colts, I will have a hearty laugh.

Seriously, every team should try to win every game. There is no such thing as a meaningless game. They are supposed to be professionals and they should act like it, each and every game.

At least the Dolphins are happy.