Start with firing Bill Polian

We don’t need to re-watch the game tape from Sunday’s playoff game to know that the Indianapolis Colts choked Sunday, in what was quite possibly the biggest disappointment in local sports history.

They not only failed, they failed in the worst way possible. They proved all of their detractors right and they proved the local sports media — except for one person — wrong.

Remember, this was the Colts’ last best shot at a Super Bowl. The future was now. But even as the initial shock of the 21-18 defeat reverberated through the RCA Dome crowd, solutions were being offered.

Keep Edgerrin James. Don’t keep him. Fire Tony Dungy. Keep Dungy. Cut Mike Vanderjagt, whose name stands in the hall of shame along with Scott Norwood for game-killing missed field goals.

No. All of these proposals are wrong. The Colts didn’t lose for any single reason and the rebuilding process is going to be equally complex.

Nevertheless, as the only local media figure to foresee the Colts’ defeat, I should be given first chance to offer solutions to the curse of the Indianapolis Colts.

1. Stop construction on the new stadium. Immediately. Send the workers home, give them a month’s severance pay and let’s rethink the giveaway plan we agreed to with the Colts. This team does not deserve the taxpayer handout to construct a palace for rich season-ticket holders. If the team wants a new stadium, let them pay for it. Charge $50 a beer at the game instead of $20. Let us as a city practice abstinence. We’re not going to give up the cash for a majestic stadium to benefit the Colts’ ownership until we get a Super Bowl parade. If the Colts don’t like it, let them move to New Orleans.

2. Fire Bill Polian, the Montgomery Burns-like figure responsible for the construction of this fatally flawed team. For far too many years, he’s run the team with full autonomy. And what do we have to show for it? Playoff losses. 41-0 in 2003. 24-14 in 2004. 21-3 in 2005. 21-18 in 2006. If the boss at your job screwed up bigtime on the only day of the year that mattered, would he or she still have their job?

Polian was responsible for the Buffalo Bills team that choked in three Super Bowls. The man is simply not a winner. He’s assembled teams which fade into nothingness after 16 games. It’s hard to imagine any other team president doing worse.

In other NFL cities, teams partner with local TV stations for an official team show. It’s usually the head coach who hosts the show. Not in Indianapolis. It’s The Bill Polian Show, and he has a temper streak like Bob Knight when it comes to answering inconvenient questions.

We don’t need him anymore. We never did. Hire a man with a championship mentality, not a Napoleon-like figure with a talent for assembling soft squads.

3. Fire Mike Vanderjagt. First of all, he has a loud mouth. Remember when he spouted off about Peyton Manning a few years back? And then he was all verbose in Sunday’s newspaper instead of practicing his field goals. Surely Morten Anderson, Gary Anderson or some dude off the street named Anderson is available for less than we pay the Goat. Excise him from the team now like the cancer he is.

4. Do whatever it takes to keep the core of the team intact. The money saved by letting Vanderjagt go can be given to James, the MVP of the Colts’ season. Without the Edge, there would have been no 13-game winning streak. There would have been no first-round bye. Polian is determined to see James go. That’s another reason to keep James.

5. Keep coach Dungy. He has been the embodiment of sportsmanship and values during his time here. He deserves to remain the coach as long as he wants. It’s the management that needs shaking up.

On Monday morning, owner Jim Irsay should have gone to the office and demanded the resignation of every single person employed in the organization, from Polian down to the beer vendors. The fact he didn’t means the Colts will be cursed to forever be the laughingstock of the NFL.

Drastic times require drastic measures. Take a big broom — or a flamethrower, whichever is more efficient — and clean the Colts’ house.


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