In possibly their most inept
performance since moving from Baltimore in 1984, the Indianapolis Colts limped
to a 17-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, playing as poorly and
ineffectively as an NFL team possibly can.
There wasn't a single pretty
thing about the Colts' performance. They couldn't run, couldn't pass and
couldn't defend. The fact they lost by only two touchdowns speaks
more of Jacksonville's struggles than the Colts, who might have given up 50
points if they'd been playing a decent team.
The game was also my first trip
to Lucas Oil Stadium, the place where I'd previously said I'd only be able to
afford to visit if martial law were declared in the city and the stadium was
designated a detention center for political dissidents.
But thanks to Rommie Loudd, a
longtime reader and friend of this column, I had two prime seats in the lower
level of the stadium. He splits the cost of season tickets with a friend and
gives away one or two pairs of tickets to charity groups for needy recipients
I've declined his kindness in the
past, saying the children who received his free tickets were needier than I.
But given the utter meaninglessness of the game, I finally took him up on his
kind offer, figuring that subjecting orphans to this year's Colts team
qualifies as abuse under some law.
The seats were great. The stadium was marvelous, full of
interesting things to look at and friendly corridors to wander. The
concession-stand food was tasty and featured a wide variety of choices. The
stadium will be a worthy host of the Super Bowl in February. It's world-class
in every sense.
Before the Super Bowl, building management may want to spend
a few million dollars on world-class disinfectant to scrub the locker rooms, however, to remove the stench the Colts have created
in the stadium this year.
It's hard to think of a how a team could be more incompetent
than the Colts were on Sunday. They went through two quarterbacks and somehow
made the woeful Jaguars look like champions. By the time the game was over,
most fans had fled the stadium in horror. Those remaining were either
masochists or curiosity seekers like us.
We had a great time at the game, enjoying the stadium that
our tax money helped build. The place truly is an amazing facility and as
modern as a stadium can be. The Stalinesque architecture that inspired the RCA
Dome is gone, replaced by an open, friendly layout conducive to creating good
I would imagine that the place was hopping when the Colts
were making championship runs the past few seasons. But when its main tenant is
the worst team in the NFL, and possibly one of the worst in league history, it
creates a surreal atmosphere, as if the current Colts are a group of amateurs
who broke into the stadium, tied up the real players, and are pretending to be
pro football players.
For the most part, though, the fans took it in stride. All
of them had paid precious money to see a winning football team but weren't that
angry at the way things have developed this year. They still applauded when
things went well, which wasn't that often. Mostly they stayed silent and
enjoyed the beer and the comradeship that comes with being a season-ticket
It got so quiet at the stadium that a couple behind us fell
asleep, possibly aided by alcohol. They snoozed away throughout the third and
fourth quarters while others laughed at them, took their picture and pointed.
They finally woke up briefly, assessed the action on the field, and went back
In another city, one with an aggressive news media corps,
the misfortune of the Colts would be causing headlines of outrage demanding
changes be made immediately. If we were in New York,
for example, the coach and many of the players would have been fired due to
pressure from the media.
In Indianapolis, the fans seem to be taking it in stride.
The fact that Curtis Painter is not in a mental hospital is a testament to his
ability to withstand stress. His name is synonymous with incompetence, failed
expectations and defeat. Yet he still wears the uniform with pride.
He's not the one to blame. He was the 201st player taken in
the 2009 NFL draft and probably thought himself the luckiest man in the world
when the Colts selected him in the sixth round. He's doing as well as could be
It's hard to say what will bring the Colts out of their
slump. At this point, it's going to take more than the return of Peyton Manning
Manning. The entire franchise will need to be rebuilt after such a disastrous
and ineffective season. There will be better days ahead for the Colts.
And when that happens, I'll be able to say that I was there,
thanks to my friend, when things were at their absolute worst, as they were on
Sunday. Only true fans are standing behind the Colts at this point. Consider meone of them.