Colts Family Values
Indianapolis Colts won impressively on Monday Night to improve their record
to 11-0. After destroying a very good Pittsburgh Steelers team, now is the
time to start seriously thinking about a “Perfect Season”. During the 40
years that comprise the Super Bowl Era, only five other teams have started
with 11 wins and four of them became Super Bowl Champions. The Colts
certainly have a chance at getting a ring, but they have an opportunity to
do something much more special: to have a season to bring generations
together by making history.
create a common bond for many of us with our parents, our friends and our
children. It’s a unique part of our culture both in America and
Internationally, but especially here. We play sports, talk sports and live
sports. The best part about it though is how it brings the young and old
together through shared experience and understanding.
Thanksgiving dinner I was sharing a story about my Grandfather, Ben, and one
of my last memories of him. We were visiting Pittsburgh in the late Summer
of 1973. While watching the Pirates on TV there were tons of commercials for
Steelers season tickets. Of course, they each featured the “Immaculate
Reception” by Franco Harris against the Raiders that led to the Steelers
first playoff win. That play was one of the special moments in sports
history and it was shared by everybody, especially my grandfather and me,
even though we lived 3,000 miles apart and we were separated by many years
My oldest son
Benji (named after my grandfather Ben) and his friends at school have
started talking about the
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
Colts and their unbeaten streak. Of course, since kids love a winner, Peyton
Manning is incredible, and we don’t have an NFL team in Los Angeles, many of
the kids have become temporary Colts fans. We’ve started talking about the
’72 Dolphins and remembering Bob Griese, Earl Morrall, Jim Kiick, Larry
Csonka, Paul Warfield, the incomparable Mercury Morris, Nick Buonticonti and
the rest of the “No Name” defense. I lived in Miami in 1972 and I was the
same age that Benji is now when the Colts have a chance to make a similar
run. We played “Madden ‘06” and used the historic teams (EA Sports really
needs to start using the correct names and numbers for those players).
Talking about these stories, great teams and shared experiences is part of
what makes sports great.
Colts are doing now is historic. While going undefeated to a Super Bowl win
doesn’t make them the greatest team ever, it would absolutely make them one
of the most memorable and storied teams to ever take the field. Can you name
the winner of Super Bowl VII, XX, XXVI or XXXIII? The answers are: the
Dolphins, Bears, Redskins and Broncos – the four teams to start a season
11-0 and win the Super Bowl (In 1984, the Dolphins also started 11-0 but
lost in the playoffs). While I doubt that anybody named all four of those
Super Bowl Champions, almost everybody could say that the 1972 Dolphins went
a perfect 17-0 to become the only NFL team to win every game they played.
Watching this season develop can be a very special experience that we will
all share across generations. No matter who we root for, we should all be
able to appreciate the significance of a special season (except for maybe
some people who still live in Baltimore).
Colts Do it?
Colts are the best team in football. As history shows, it’s almost
impossible to not have a bad game and slip up, but the Colts clearly have
the ability to run the table. Indianapolis has had a dominate offense for
years. The best offense in the NFL features Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James,
Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley, but the defense is also
now one of the best in the league. Tony Dungy has always been a strong
defensive coach and he has turned the defense that was rated 29th
in the league last season into a unit thanks ranks behind only the Bears in
points allowed and fourth in the NFL in yards. The off-season addition of
Corey Simon teamed with talented rookie Marlin Jackson and potential
Defensive MVP Dwight Freeney have collectively created a dynamic unit that
balances the Colts potent offense.
are five regular season games to go and then the playoffs. Let’s take a look
at the games:
4, Titans – The Titans can be a scary team when Steve McNair is healthy, but
he rarely is and won’t be again this Sunday. The Titans can’t match up
against the Colts and only a mental letdown can be an issue here. Colts win
easily to go 12-0.
11, at Jaguars – The injury to QB Byron Leftwich dramatically changes the
complexion of this game which looked like a potential hurdle. While David
Gerrard is a solid backup and Jacksonville is a tough place to play, the
Colts will win this game to go 13-0.
Chargers – Every week is a must win situation for San Diego as a few early
season losses have put their playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Chargers may be
the 2nd best team in the NFL and they have certainly played the
toughest schedule. While the Chargers have everything to play for and the
Colts may have already wrapped up the Division, this game will be
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
played in the RCA Dome and the potential for a playoff rematch makes this a
big game for both teams. In a close game and high scoring game, the home
field advantage is enough for the Colts to win this one and extend their
record to 14-0.
24, at Seattle – This now looks like the toughest remaining game because
it’s on the road and the Seahawks may be the best team in the NFC. Of
course, being the best team in the NFC this year may make them only the 5th
or 6th best in the NFL, but that’s another story. By week 15,
this game may be meaningless to both teams as far as playoff standings go,
but it doesn’t minimize the implications of the game for a perfect season or
as a potential Super Bowl preview. Shaun Alexander is having an MVP-type
season and will match up against the Colts MVP candidate, Edgerrin James.
This is another shootout, but the Colts defense is better than Seattle and
the Colts win a tight one on the road to go 15-0.
1, Arizona – On paper this looks like a mismatch against the currently 3-8
Cardinals. However, Tony Dungy has repeatedly said that the goal is to win
the Super Bowl and not to go 19-0. The ’72 Dolphins playoff motto was: “It
don’t mean a thing if we don’t get the ring”. While that is certainly true,
immortality is worth striving for and it doesn’t need to be a choice of
going undefeated or winning the Super Bowl. It’s certainly possible to do
both and then the 2005 Colts will be mentioned as one of the greatest teams
ever. No player ever feels like they’re going to get hurt, but it is
possible and the “second guessing” if a key player is lost for the playoffs
and costs the championship would be unbearable. Last year, the Colts rested
their players the last regular season game against the Broncos after winning
8 straight. If they had won that game they’d have 20 consecutive regular
season wins besting the Patriots record of 18. Therefore, the biggest
obstacle to a perfect season isn’t Arizona, but Tony Dungy. Something this
historic and special is worth the risk and the Colts didn’t win last year by
resting. Knowing that the Colts will have a first round playoff bye, I think
Coach Dungy will play the stars long enough to ice this game and close out
the season 16-0.
playoffs are always up for grabs, but the Colts have the best offensive unit
in the NFL and a top rated defense. Indianapolis will be the favorite
against any team, have home field advantage for the playoffs and the Super
Bowl is inside a dome (Detroit’s Ford Field). The Colts have everything
lining up perfectly to become a special team that can bring together
special team needs to be recognized and appreciated. Now, you may hate a
dominate team as a rival, but you still can appreciate the accomplishment.
While an NCAA football team usually can go undefeated each season, the
current USC Trojan football team is reaching historic levels and can become
the greatest team ever (measured by consecutive wins) next year by passing
Oklahoma’s 48 game streak. John Wooden’s UCLA teams, the great Yankees
dynasties, the Bulls, Lakers, Cowboys and so many other great teams have all
brought us together.
We need to be able to see the joy of being part of special teams on the
youth level because they simply don’t come along very often. When you, your
children or others around you, even in the lowest levels of youth sports
play on a championship team, especially a team that goes undefeated; enjoy
it. As the ’72 Miami Dolphins have shown you, it’s certainly not easy. From
professional sports down to the community level, the Colts can inspire us
all again to reach across generations for shared experiences. Treasure and
enjoy the unique moments in sports and being part of a special team.
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