I woke up this morning excited about the possibilities of the Colts going 15-0.
Now, I don't really give a crap.
I want to thank Indy's local columnist, Bob Kravitz, for utterly destroying my enthusiasm for the quest with a vapid nonsense piece this morning.
You see, I realized something while reading it:
If this is what a perfect season is all about...it's not worth much.
The Keyshawn Johnsons, the Skip Baylesses, the Bob Kravtizs get all up in arms about "a perfect season" arguing and punditing and spewing opinions at every turn, but it seems to me that the Peyton Manning's don't really give a crap. Archie Manning did a radio interview this week in which he said that he'd had numerous conversations with members of the Saints organization about the allure of perfection, but that Peyton hadn't mentioned it once. If 18 doesn't care, why should I?
So today, Kravitz implores the Colts to let Manning make the call himself. He says:
This ought to be Manning's call, because this is his team, his decade and, ultimately, his legacy. While other men have played a role -- notably Polian, the team's architect -- this run of excellence, this pursuit of perfection that is close enough to touch, this is all about the once-in-a-lifetime quarterback who runs the show. He is this close to passing Tom Brady for the mythical Quarterback of the Decade. He is this close to being part of the conversation as the Greatest of All Time. He is on the cusp of a record fourth MVP.
Ask his opinion. Get his opinion. Then play to win this game.
Because that's what he wants, because at this point, that's the opportunity he deserves.
I read that, and I wanted to puke. It violates every notion of team and unity the Colts are founded on. You see, I've been around long enough to know certain things:
1. The Colts are more than Peyton Manning.
2. Peyton has been trying to lug this team around for a decade, and he's done a damn fine job of it, but when it comes to January, he can throw for 400 yards, complete 16 straight passes, and three TDs and the Colts can still lose. We need a TEAM to win a title, and arguing that one player should make a decision like this is unsavory.
If the article had said, "Poll the captains. Ask Saturday. Ask Freeney. Ask Wayne. Take seriously their wishes." I could have bought that angle. But just do what Peyton wants? No way. That's perverse.
Kravitz goes on to make some rather strong gloom and doom assertions:
There is a risk here because if Caldwell doesn't give his players their best chance to win today and next Sunday, how do they react? Do they become embittered? Is there a small-scale mutiny? Does he lose some of his players?
Even on a veteran team that is known for its relentless professionalism, I'm not sure Caldwell wants to take that chance.
What? Seriously? He's going to lose some players? The Colts have so little character that they would turn on their coach for doing his best to rest them and help them win a Super Bowl? Such a hypothesis is absurd. This team is the most toe the line, in step, one message bunch I've ever heard of. You think Peyton is going to turn on Caldwell? You think Freeney is going to bitch? You think any man in that locker room would cross either one of those two? Please. If this is what 16-0 is all about...power plays and mutinies, you can keep it. I don't want it anymore.
Then Kravitz stages and imaginary conversation between Manning and Caldwell:
There is no way, none, that Caldwell could keep Manning off the field in that situation. Can't you see it now? Close game, and every eye, every camera, will be focused on you-know-who on the Indy sideline.
"I'm going back in.''
"No, you're not.''
"You'd better call security because I'm going in.''
You think Brett Favre and Brad Childress had issues?
Wow. I'm not even going to dignify that with a response. Peyton is the anti-Favre. All the greatness, none of the painkiller additcion and middle school productions of Hamlet. That conversation would never take place. Not in a million years. Nor should it. Nor would it reflect well on Manning if it did.
Here's what's really behind Kravitz's piece today: he's setting Manning up for failure.
He loves to do this. He did it before the San Diego playoff game last year, painting a road game where the Colts were underdogs as some kind of cake walk in which a loss would destroy the legacy of Manning and Dungy. Then they lost, as anyone with a brain thought they would, and he attacked.
Now, he's putting 16-0 on Manning's shoulders. If they lose because he comes out, then Kravitz has an angle:
Manning is weak. He shirked away from history. He didn't show spine. He's a loser. He should have fought to stay in the game! He didn't show the kind of fire and passion necessary to be a winner.
Then, if the Colts lose in the playoffs, he has a pre-written column to place the blame. It doesn't matter what happens in the game. If Indy loses, regardless of the score or the events, it will be traced back to this moment. Manning wouldn't fight to stay in against the Jets, and the Colts lost because of it.
It's so disgustingly predictable that now I hope Manning does sit three quarters today. I hope Indy loses by 40. Then I hope we freaking blow the doors off of every effing team in the playoffs just to ram it down the throat of every talking head and pundit who writes about the NFL. Telling the media to shove it would be sweeter than an undefeated season in my book.
Do I mean this? No, probably not. I doubt even Bobby K can ruin a perfect season for me. Still, I won't shed any tears if the run ends this afternoon.
One thing is certain: I won't lose any sleep over locker room mutinies.
Demond Sanders comments: I had a nearly identical reaction. This column is nothing more than a set up to kill Manning down the road. Anyone familiar with Bob's work spotted this ploy immediately. One slight problem, Bob: This really isn't about Manning first and foremost. Peyton could never play another down and still be remembered as one of the best quarterbacks ever. In my opinion, the pursuit of perfection is way more important to guys like Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, Jeff Saturday, and Bill Polian. If Caldwell is seeking input it should be from those guys. These four are border-line Hall of Famers. Their legacies would be cemented in Canton if they managed to go 19-0. This is especially big for Polian. Remember: GMs generally don't make it to the Hall.