My final thoughts on Painter-gate. I haven't been this ready to move on from something since high school. Fittingly there are seven of them.
1. It was good that Irsay said something. He took responsibility (which he should have). I agree with him that the move was courageous because it was rooted in principles. Personally, I believe that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" and that there are moments where your principles can be exposed as inadequate for the circumstances. That's what happened here in my opinion. You can call this decision whatever you want, but cowardly isn't an adjective that can be used. It was sloppy. It was unnecessary. It may or may not have been stupid. It was not selfish (it cost Caldwell a Coach of the Year award). It was not cowardly.
2. The net effect on this season will be negligible. Nothing that happened last week nor this week matters. I've now read scores of articles arguing that there is and that there isn't 'momentum' in the NFL. Whenever you see that much noise on both sides of an issue, it means no one knows. One thing is certain: even if there used to be momentum, each of the last three seasons have produced a Super Bowl team that looked dead in the water going into January. This season will too. Maybe it will be the Vikings. Maybe it will be the Saints. Maybe it will be the Colts.
3. If I hear one more writer bring up how resting didn't work in 2007 I'm going to scream. You listening, Kravitz? Everyone knows that rest had NOTHING to do with the Colts' 2007 playoff loss to the Chargers. No one can honestly look you in the face and say otherwise. Just shut up. People need 2007 because without it, the evidence tilts in favor of rest. 1999 and 2004 outweigh 2005, but if you wedge 2007 in there, it looks like an argument. I'm still waiting for ANYONE to explain how rest hurt the Colts in 2007. Don't let them throw Marvin Harrison in there either, if he could have played before the playoffs he would have. He shouldn't have played AT ALL in the playoffs. That's a different issue. Even mentioning 2007 in this discussion is intellectually dishonest. Kravtiz has said before that he knows there is little real connection between rest and the 2007 loss, but he keeps waiving it about wildly anyway.
4. This was not a "once in a lifetime opportunity". This is a third or fourth time in a lifetime opportunity already. Seriously, no one even batted an eye when the Colts went to 10-0. You don't think they could go for this whenever they want? 13-0 in 2005. 10-0 in 2006. 7-0 (with narrow losses late) in 2007. This team will always be in position to rip off 10 or 12 wins in a row. If I told you right now that in the next three years the Colts would have a season where they went at least 11-0, would you even blink? Indy will be in this same spot again soon.
5. The 2007 Pats were not noble. They were perhaps the least honorable, least sportsmanlike team in history. Their "quest for perfection" was not born of any great love and honor of sport and the essence of competition. They also wound up as the biggest chokers in the history of football. So save me interviews with those guys. Their opinion is utterly irrelevant. If nothing else, I'm glad the Colts have tried to be the opposite of that team. They were evil. They were not sportsmen. If you don't think the arrogance got them in the end, just rewatch Brady's smug press conference before the Super Bowl. They thought they were invincible and they took the Giants lightly. They paid for it and will live in history as choking dogs. So shut it, Teddy Bruschi. I don't give a flying fart what you think about this.
6. The Colts have to drop this "other records were more important" crap. Just say, "We didn't care!" I can buy that. I can buy that you think it is all utter nonsense. Just don't tell me that one obscure record is more important that an undefeated season. That makes no sense. Not 10 people in a 1,000 would agree. Just say, "We only care about one thing...the Super Bowl". There is a difference by the way between letting players get individual records and a team record. The players use those personal records to make more money. The players will revolt over the long haul if you suppress their stats. Guys like Manning, Wayne, Harrison, Clark...they are all great guys. But other guys see that stuff too. By letting players hit personal milestones, you smooth things out in the locker room in the long run. Now, the Colts only do this when it only takes a few extra plays to get the guy a mark. In my opinion, it would have taken only a few extra plays to get the win on Sunday too. One or at the most two more drives would have done it. That leads me to the final point:
7. I'll never be ok with what happened. I'll never ever agree. I'll never say it was necessary. No matter what else happens from here on out. Super Bowl or no. There was no reason to take Manning out up 15-10 with the ball on the 10. Taking him out? Sure. Resting players? Sure. But playing a weird "in between" strategy of not announcing the move before the game "for competitive advantage", but then coaching the game like the outcome didn't matter (punting on fourth and 3 with just two offensive possessions left) just makes no sense. That kind of half way coaching is indefensible. Righ move, wrong move...whatever. It didn't go down correctly.
They botched this. I don't remember the Colts ever botching anything under this regime, but they botched this.
It's not the end of the world.
It won't matter in the long run.
But they botched it.