Here I write before you, before everyone reading this and proclaim that I want to pay homage to the greatness that is the Indianapolis Colts. Now, I am in no way a Colts fan – truth be told, I’m about as big of a fan of the Colts as Muslims are of pork rinds. But, I must divulge my admiration and respect of the Colts organization and its players. I have long rooted for the Patriots and pretty much any team facing off against the Colts. It isn’t as if I don’t respect the Colts, but it’s just that they are not my team and rank pretty low on the list of teams that I root for. Even this past weekend, I found myself favoring the Patriots over the Colts – but not by as much as I usually do. I found myself in a way rooting for the Colts – I wasn’t adverse to the idea of the Colts winning that game. And now that they did win the game – in improbable fashion, I find myself pulling for the Colts.
I have to give a standing ovation to the Colts – similar to a lifetime achievement award at the Oscars. They have maintained excellence and character throughout their run under Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning. How can you not openly root for a guy of high moral character like Tony Dungy?? He personifies class, dignity, and professionalism. It was just one year ago that he lost his son to suicide. Yet, publicly, he hasn’t wavered at all from that point and has managed to move on professionally.
Tony Dungy is NOT the kind of coach that will get in your face, which will call out players in the media. He just does not do that. For years, people have believed that he was just too nice, too easy and too laid back to win a title. People believed that he needed to be an “in your face” kind of coach, that he needed to show more emotions. People flat out believed that nice guys finished last and that Tony Dungy was the best example of that.
There was a huge disparity between the demeanor and character of the two coaches on both sides in the AFC championship game prior to and after the game. After the game, Belichick came off as a petulant, disgruntled sore loser – giving little praise or credit to the opposing team and its players. While he threw his comatose tantrum, Peyton Manning gushed of praise and respect for the opposing team and its coaching staff. He did nothing but personify class in calling the Patriots a classy organization and its players classy.
Now on to the star, the face of the NFL: Peyton Manning. He was bred to be an NFL star and has exceeded anyone’s expectations of him – as difficult as that seemed prior to the NFL draft. But now, exceedingly over the years, he has been labeled as a “choker”, someone who couldn’t perform in the big games and ultimately, a loser on the biggest stage. When they won this past weekend, I couldn’t help but surface a smile. Finally, they had been vindicated and exonerated by the media and by fans. They finally have a chance to enjoy the ultimate achievement in all of sports: becoming a champion.
Peyton is the most calculated, well-prepared, and methodical quarterback in the NFL right now – maybe in all of history. Over the years, he has become more and more patient – not forcing things and trying to get whatever he can in whatever situation he is in. He deserves to win a title and deserves to lift that proverbial monkey off his shoulder. He represents the NFL with class, dignity, and pride. Even as someone who is not a fan of the Colts, I respect everything that Manning has done for the city of Indianapolis and the NFL as a whole. I am in awe sometimes of how good he is, of how uncanny his accuracy can be. You CANNOT mention Peyton without mentioning Marvin Harrison. Marvin Harrison is quite possibly the quietest great player ever to lace up his cleats in the history of the NFL. It is very likely that, barring injury, Peyton Manning will break nearly every single QB record and Marvin Harrison will break nearly every single receiving record. They are that good – and finally they will get to showcase their talents in the biggest stage in all of sports – the Super Bowl. One side note though, does this mean that we are going to be subjected to more two weeks of Peyton “Cut that meat!” “Throw some dirt on it” “Don’t worry about it, you still got the best arm in the neighborhood” “let me show you my butt” Manning commercials?? I mean, c’mon, enough is enough.
So, I rise in appreciation, in gratitude to the moments and memories that have been given to us over the years from the Colts. I applaud the character and moral fiber of this team – I respect the workmanlike attitude and no-nonsense approach that the Colts team is personified by. I respect that a coach, for once, who does things right and treats all his players and coaches the right way gets the opportunity to achieve the highest pinnacle in all of sports. I admire the way Peyton Manning has overcome all his demons to give himself a chance to become the champion he was always destined to become. In many ways, it is fitting that the Colts made it to the Super Bowl in a year in which they were expected little of, in a playoffs where people called them soft and questioned how good they truly were. It is fitting that Peyton Manning had to pull off the greatest comeback in all of championship history against his arch nemesis and against the greatest clutch quarterback in our time (Tom Terrific Brady). It is fitting that he led his team to a monster second half against the single best mind in all of football (Bill Belichick). It is fitting that he had to lead his team 80 yards to finally exonerate all his playoff demons – and to top it off; right after Tom Terrific led his team down the field to take the lead. I hope that the Colts do not have a letdown in a week and a half and write the final chapter of their story in a season filled with hope, tribulations, perseverance, and finally, victory. I think the Colts know better than anyone else that they may NEVER get this opportunity again to become immortal legends. So, Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy, all you have to do is finish writing the script on this improbable tale by winning a Super Bowl championship.