Okay, let me start by saying that, like everyone else, I like to see the Colts win. I think the Colts should do what's necessary to win because they owe it to their fans, the city of Indy and the NFL. Without the sparkle that is the Colts, we would not have as many elite teams and players. And the Colts brought Peyton Manning to the NFL, one of the most unique talents ever. So, this post is not about being soft and suggesting considering an alternative to winning.
It's about a concern I have regarding Pagano and the demeanor he brings to this organization. Yes, I'll admit that Dungy was frustrating at times with his lack of emotion or fire. And Caldwell took it up (or perhaps down?) a notch from that with little passion displayed, until the very last few games.
But both of these fellow brought a level of integrity to the team that I very much admired. It allowed me to point my daughter (9 years old at first interest in the NFL) to the Colts and use them to show how winning could be done without being arrogant or "in your face". She loves the Colts because they are likable. Dallas Clark getting a first down and simply handing the ball to the ref is a far better lesson in sportsmanship than people celebrating and doing stunts whenever they get 2 yards on a run. Marvin Harrison quietly making remarkable catches was epic in its lesson regarding humility. The "no trashing talking" from the Colts - gotta love that. Let Rex Ryan bloviate idiotically. We merely complimented the other team on being worthy adversaries. Freeney getting a sack and merely saluting the fans. Great great stuff. And the Colts community service, and Dungy's commitment to making sure his team was seen in a positive light started with Irsay and his now famous quote to win the right way. Heck, I loved when our team was in "all white" uniforms.
Now, I read about Pagano and his "in your face" attitude. His New Gingrich-like "say whatever you have to say to evoke a response". His calling the Raiders a prison camp. He has fire in his belly, and that's a welcome change. But I'm not sure I want a bunch of players celebrating and "acting the fool". Now, of course, I don't know if that's going to happen or not. But the "hell yeah" celebratory posts I'm seeing (mostly on other blogs) every time some new brash Pagano moment of history is revealed does cause me to pause for concern.
So again, yes winning. At all costs? No. With integrity, yes? Without it, we wouldn't have the likes of Jeff Saturday, who lead the player discussions to an agreement, and again who now historically hugged Bob Kraft.
So, am I alone in worrying about this? What do you guys think?
I think there's a big difference between celebrating, and being pompous. I watch the game of football to be entertained, and I don't care how the entertainment is derived as long as it isn't immoral or unethical. As much as I'd absolutely hate to have him on a team that I loved, I must admit that I liked Ochocinco's touchdown celebrations. They were cheeky, creative, and paid no disrespect to anyone. There's also the infamous touchdown spike from Marvin Harrison in the '06 AFCCG that bounced up and hit Vrabel (I believe) in the face. That kind of "fire" is something that I enjoy in a player.
On the other hand you have players like James Harrison, who will openly scoff at the league about his illegals hits, which are potentially dangerous to other players. You also have guys like TO that fly off of the handle whenever things don't go his way, and will do anything to receive attention, much like a toddler. That kind of "fire" is not needed, and is unwelcome by me.
Just because someone has "fire in their belly" doesn't mean that they're not going to be professional. Sure, he might not be as reserved and proper as a Dungy or Caldwell, but one of my favorite coaches out there, Jim Harbaugh (because he was one of my favorite players), has all kinds of fire, but I would consider him to be professional (though he can be a bit overzealous in his handshakes). I guess it all depends on what behavior you won't tolerate. I have no problem with celebration as a team; it's the individual crap that puts one player on a pedestal that is intolerable. I want the team to be excited about success, just not conceited about their own personal achievements.
I too have always loved the humility of the Colts. I think it was Marv that said " I don't celebrate in the endzone because you should act like you've been there before." Paraphrasing of course. Even when he and Peyton broke the TD record between QB and WR there was no celebration. I'll never forget them running off the field. " You take it." "No you take it." Alright, we'll split it." Fond memories. I think when you look at a team like the Jets it's easy to assume that they are the way they are because of Rex Ryan. While that is partly true I think it has more to do with the players buying or not buying into a team concept. Team first, not me first. While some of this is sold by the HC I think regardless of what the HC is selling, you have to have the right group of players that are willing to buy into the concept. I think in 2011 we all witnesses just how classy the Colts current roster is. Caldwell deserves some credit, but so did the front office for bringing these type of players in. So Pagano worries me less than the new FO, because ultimately who leaves, who stays, and who is brought in will be determined by Irsay and Grigson. So although I think you raise a very good point, and a very real concern, I only partially agree that the character of the team will be determined by the new HC.
Just because Pagano is talking about playing with passion doesn't mean the entire culture of professionalism is going to change.
Look at it this way: Both Rex Ryan and Marvin Lewis came from Baltimore and those guys couldn't be more different. We won't know what kind of coach Pagano is until the season starts up.
@7IHd LOL - "overzealous in his handshakes". I saw how he shook Coughlin's hand, it was pretty funny.
@buymymonkey Yeah, haha, that one was a bit brusque. It was quite a frustrating game, though. The handshake with Schwartz is probably a bit more memorable. Harbaugh was always a fiery competitor, though.