"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The fact of the matter is one has to ask
why the Indianapolis Colts are shuffling off to Buffalo the latter part of this
week. They might as well just mail in regrets and let the Bills have the win.
If it is a question of Peyton Manning sustaining some sort of record for
starting consecutive games, or extending it to catch Brett Favre, they can put
a Fathead on a cardboard background and set it up in back of the center for one
play or a series.
What coach Jim Caldwell did this Sunday past was inexcusable and he can prattle
on for hours, days, weeks, months about making sure his team did not sustain
any key injuries on their way to the playoffs and a possible Super Bowl
appearance, but it smacks of arrogant idiocy. And, if GM Bill Polian was an
accomplice to this decision, then they both should be ashamed of themselves.
He never had this sort of opportunity with the Buffalo Bills and proved, to
all, that he cannot handle it.
Jim Caldwell is under scrutiny for removing starters in Sunday's game and halting his unbeaten season at 14 games.
An undefeated season is history in the making. It comes along once. New
England did it and, yes, lost in the Super Bowl. Miami did it and went to the
end of the line without losing. You do not get a second chance at this. Any
argument about saving the players and avoiding injuries is vacuous and without
merit. Standing on the sidelines with a look of steel, one that tells the rest
of the world to go perform an unnatural physical act if they do not like it,
does not cut it nor justify it.
The fans in Indianapolis have a right to see their team accomplish this feat.
The television audience was nailed to their sets knowing that it would only
take one more game to do it...against the not-so-impressive Bills. The media
was poised. All of the other teams that were, or are, competing with the Jets
for a playoff spot were wondering what the heck was going on. The look on
Manning's face spoke volumes. The other starters were just dumbfounded and
How do you take Manning out of the game and send in Curtis Painter? How do you
remove Citation from the race and replace him with a filly that was pulling a
carriage in front of The Plaza in New York the day before? What possesses
anyone to disregard the opportunity at an undefeated regular season with the
rather pathetic excuse of not wanting to chance an injury of any sort to
Manning? Do any of you out there know how many times he has been sacked this
season, no less really touched during the course of a game? About as much as
Peyton Manning was not in complete agreement with head coach Jim Caldwell's decision about coming out of the game on Sunday.
The Colts are in the playoffs, they have a bye, they have enough time to go to
Aruba and chill out if they wish. They will certainly practice and get ready
but, at the same time, have sufficient time to work themselves into whatever
shape is necessary to get to the big event.
No, this was not just another game and the next one with Buffalo had a "W"
written all over it. History made!!! Instead, Coach Caldwell assumes the
position taken too often by those with any sense of authority...my way or no
way and shove it if you don't like it. That has to come from a misbegotten
youth where too many people told him what to do. This was as big a stage as it
gets and he was not, apparently, to be denied.
To paraphrase Caldwell's thoughts, "We are pointing for the Super Bowl and I am
not taking any chances on any of our key guys suffering an injury of any sort."
What about the record and the undefeated season?
Again, paraphrasing Caldwell's intent, "Who cares? I make the decisions around
here and I know what is best for everyone."
The problem with that it is that it eliminates the players, the guys that got
the train this far. The folks that suffered in the trenches, took the hits and
played to win so that they would not lose at all during the season. It
eliminates any thoughts of that undefeated season and all the pleasure it
would bring, the adulation, the sense of accomplishment, reaching the heights
that so few have done. The Super Bowl is the big deal, of course, but what a
feat this would have been. And, it was taken away from them, not by a team
that bested them but by a coach that was, ostensibly, one of their own. The
problem is that he was not. He was on an island of his own and literally
disdained and disregarded what the team wanted. It was evident on their faces.
Curtis Painter - sorry, Curtis - is not ready for the NFL, not by a long shot.
He has a squeaky voice that cannot carry a tune and is being asked to sit in
for Barbra Streisand. Give me a break!! Caldwell rolled the dice and lost.
He just does not want to admit that, to the chagrin and disappointment of all.
Mine is an opinion. Shared or debated. It was a dumb, and insulting, move.
It minimized and demeaned all that his team had achieved up to Sunday past.
Yes, there is the motivational factor of the Super Bowl hanging in the balance
but how do you devalue, with one incredibly egotistic and disdainful decision,
the momentum of a season? They are pros and "they will recover" is the
anticipated response but, watching the games this past weekend, the teams
hanging in, those without a chance of going anywhere but on vacation, the ones
teetering on the edge of obscurity are playing with more enthusiasm and purpose
than those with tickets for the playoffs.
New England did not lose to the Giants because they were tired or played too
hard in their last few season games, used up energy or suffered injuries. They
lost to a team that gave them all they could handle coupled with some good
fortune and a spectacular catch. Did their regular season record lose some
luster at that moment? Probably, but it stands tall today. Will the Colts'
loss to the Jets fade if they go on to win the Super Bowl? For a bit, but what
will linger forever is what might have been, should have been, could have been
and, for all intents and purposes, was if not for the single-minded self-over-
the-team attitude of Jim Caldwell. His response would be that he actually
placed the team first and was protecting them.
You gotta be kidding!