Just mail it in!

"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.

Jim Caldwell is under scrutiny for removing starters in Sunday's game and halting his unbeaten season at 14 games.
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.

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 disappointed.

Peyton Manning was not in complete agreement with head coach Jim Caldwell's decision about coming out of the game on Sunday.
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 yourself.

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!

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