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The Colts blew it

Scott Jagow Dec 28, 2009

I’m not an Indianapolis Colts fan, but if I was, I’d be banging on the doors to the team’s front office today, demanding my money back. As a football fan in general, what I witnessed yesterday was just one more confirmation that in professional sports, the fans don’t matter one bit.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Colts came into yesterday’s home game against the New York Jets with a perfect record — 14 wins, zero losses and only two regular season games left to play. The last team to go undefeated through the regular season and win the Super Bowl was the 1972 Miami Dolphins. It’s a big deal. The Colts had a real chance to make history.

But with Indianapolis leading 15-10 late in the third quarter, the coach decided to bench his key players, including all-world quarterback Peyton Manning. The hapless back-up QB came in, and the Colts imploded, losing 29-15.

The fans booed relentlessly for the entire fourth quarter, and I don’t blame them. After the game, the team’s general manager Bill Polian said – hey, we told you we don’t care about the perfect season. Doesn’t matter to us. The Colts fan blogs lit up with anger:

So, to you fans that braved inches of snow and heavy winds to watch your then-undefeated Colts possibly win a game and move to 15-0 only to see the team pull starters for no acceptable reason, Bill Polian says screw you.

To you fans who shelled out hundreds of dollars to watch the game, and you other fans who shelled out thousands of dollars for season tickets during a recession only to see the team quit and hand the game to the Jets, Bill Polian says screw you.

To the residents of Indiana, who paid hundreds of millions in taxpayer money to fund Lucas Oil Stadium, only to watch the coaches quit on a game that was very winnable… yeah, pretty much the same as the last two.

I understand the goal is to win the Super Bowl above all else, and that the coach doesn’t want to risk injury if he doesn’t have to, but why did Manning play at all yesterday? Why didn’t he just stay home, watch the game from the safety of his couch and collect his game check anyway?

Or just forfeit. Tell the Jets to save the jet fuel and stay home. You can have this one. The Colts gave away the game like it was a Christmas gift anyway, which by the way, completely altered the playoff picture and put the Jets in the best position to make the playoffs above several other teams.

I like the way sportswriter Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star puts it:

The Colts casually gave away this thing, spitting on football history along the way…

The Colts are no less a Super Bowl contender today than they were two days ago. But they had a chance, a rare opportunity to chase the ghosts of ’72. And they acted like none of it mattered.

Someday, they will look back at this game, this moment in history, and decry the fact that they weren’t allowed to chase the ultimate greatness.

You could see it on Peyton Manning’s pained face, as he stood on the sideline watching his chance at perfection slip away.

It’d be one thing if the Colts gave it all they had and lost. It’s another to treat the history of the sport, the fans and the community that supports you like they mean absolutely nothing.

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