I remember it very well. Back in July, I had the audacity to predict a rather average year for the Indianapolis Colts. The emails saying “everyone knows you’re an idiot” began to funnel in, and even a few sports radio talking heads took a few shots at yours truly.
I had penned a piece that said while the uncertainty surrounding this team was intriguing, I felt a record of 9-7 was realistic, and the naysayers had their collective way with me. Along the way, employee No. 12 called it a career (allegedly) and with his departure I suddenly began to think the aforementioned nine up and seven down was indeed lofty. However, a 5-2 record after seven games (with an unproven quarterback at the helm) made me think about what eating crow might actually taste like. After some injuries and rather bad execution on defense in consecutive games, reality set in, and season ticket holders threw in the towel and started the process of asking Santa to leave a refund for a Christmas gift.
I’ve never considered myself a psychic, so calling this Colts roster average at best back in training camp really was not a revolution as opposed to just being realistic, and looking at how the NFL truly works today. While teams love to use such terms as “unlimited potential” and “impact free agents” to describe their respective rosters, the harsh reality is that every year only about six teams (maximum) have a legit shot at winning the Super Bowl. Doesn’t matter what ESPN tells you, just ask Las Vegas. The NFL calls it parity, but it’s actually mediocrity, and since that word does not sell those expensive replica jerseys (available in both road and home trim) they ignore it while their coffers continue to burst with television money and merchandise sales. Don’t rock the boat, as this is business, and in the NFL, business is booming. Just look at the number of dejected Colts fans exiting Lucas Oil Stadium after the recent embarrassing loss to the Tennessee Titans. A ton of them were sporting Colts gear and that doesn’t even include those wearing the garb at home or in a sports bar as they watch along on television. Doesn’t matter that your favorite team won’t make the playoffs as long as one is styling in a $40 official team hat. Many of you had high hopes after the Colts beat up on a bunch of lackluster opponents last season, which is generally courtesy of the league schedule makers after a team has a horrific season the year before. You feast on even weaker teams and then the grading curve becomes a bit tougher the following year. If it sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve seen it in play here locally the last three years. For the record, it’s simply how things work in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s world, and as long as the owners he continues to make rich are paying him royally, there won’t be any changes. The formula is in place to reward subpar football, and every team at one time or another has taken advantage of it.
I want to make it clear that I personally feel the Colts organization has done a superb job of making chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what. They were dealt a huge blow with Andrew Luck’s departure, but even with him under center, this is a heavily flawed football team. They sold you in training camp on the concept of a championship-caliber roster and you bought it. The battle cry for next year’s season ticket campaign will be “We didn’t have Andrew,” but that is just one of many warts this team must eradicate. So now they go to New Orleans next Monday night for a nationally televised game in which their alleged playoff hopes will be officially snuffed out. All will not be lost, as they can use the final three contests to evaluate players in game situations and start preparing for the upcoming NFL combine and the draft as a precursor to the offseason free agency signing period. Things will improve moderately on West 56th Street in the coming months, but if not, there is always the 2020 diluted schedule. It’s the NFL way and it works for all.
Extra point: The Indianapolis Colts play their final home game of the season on Dec. 22 when the Carolina Panthers visit Lucas Oil Stadium. The kickoff is slated for 1 p.m., and if you opt not to attend in person (imagine that), the game can be seen locally on Fox 59.
Danny Bridges, who thinks all Colts fans should turn off their television and read a book at 8 p.m. next Monday night can be reached at 317-370-8447 or at email@example.com.