The Courage of Decisions – Colts Way


The Colts have done the unthinkable, cutting their roster to the mandated 53 on Saturday, September 3. (Ok I am being sarcastic here… sarcastic fonts needed). Surprises are not abundant, but one surprise “may” actually set our DL back (from what it may have been) more than we would like to admit  —  the release of DT Tommie Harris, a 3-time Pro-Bowler who missed SB XLI, which the Colts won 29-17 to bring home the Lombardi Trophy.

From wikipedia:

"Without Harris, the Bears noticed a significant decline in their pass rush and run defense. Though the Bears beat the New Orleans Saints to win the NFC Championship, the Indianapolis Colts beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI."

Would the outcome have been different if Harris had actually played in the game? Would the Bears have won? Don’t forget that the Colts  ran wild during SB XLI, right through the Bears DL.   These are hypothetical questions, of course, just like when we asked, if Dwight Freeney  had not been injured in SB XLIV, would the Colts have won? Freeney was sacking Brees and giving him a hell of a time before Dwight’s ankle gave up on him in the second half.   We don’t know the answers, but we can make some good guesses.

With Tommie Harris in the middle of the DL, other teams would have been less likely to double-team Freeney and Mathis.  We already know how unstoppable Freeney is when he is matched up one-on-one with Pro-Bowl LTs … with Mathis on the other side, that is. I cannot help but relish the thought of opposing QBs running for their lives, every … single … game.

Obviously, the Colts front office has their own mindset and criteria for talent and player evaluation. I remember distinctly that Peyton Manning said that the Colts would rather take a player who is a second or two slower than one who does not meet the high work ethics the Colts crave. This motto may explain most of the roster moves the Colts make.  However, whether such guiding principles lead us to more championships is not clear.

Do you think the Colts front office is super courageous in making the tough decisions, knowing that they sometimes release capable, or even great, players just because those players do not match standards the Colts have set for work ethics?

All of these questions are moot as soon as the regular season starts and the Colts keep winning. Winning erases all doubts and mistakes, whether you agree or not. Fans’ anger, frustration, doubts or even suicidal thoughts are going to go away as soon as Peyton destroys the opposing defense time and time again!  But when we lose, all these bitter memories and missteps may actually come back to haunt us. There are other roster moves that fans do not agree with, some for and some against, but we are discussing this one decision which most fans and even Colts players find mind-boggling.

I do believe there are factors that we fans do not know about that lead to such dumbfounding decisions. Phil B of Indystar conjectures that it may be the “attitude” and “toughness” issues that led to Harris’ release.

If Phil B and his colleagues’ conjectures are correct, then it may be that Harris has an aversion to team doctors and medical staff.

Harris on how the lockout helped him:

"It just gave me an opportunity to really strengthen things that I didn’t have confidence in. When you go into a season, people really don’t know that we really have a month or almost two months off before we get right back at it. Before you have other guys touching on you, poking on you, and telling you that they can fix this and they can fix that. To have an opportunity to have all my specialists look at me and check me out and everybody put together a game plan, a person that doesn’t work for the team but really works for you, that you paid, that’s the type of deal we went through and it helped a lot."

So “if” the Colts medical staff and front office thought Harris’ hamstring injury was no biggie and he should have toughed it out and played or practiced, it seems that Tommie boy might have had a different idea. We don’t know who is factually right, but, obviously, if your employer thinks you are not being diligent, you are not going to be on the payroll for too long.

Also, while Harris said all the right things after being signed by the Colts, he has shown that he could behave in ways which are not acceptable to the Colts’ culture.

This is a move that will be talked about for a long time, particularly if the Colts struggle on the D-line this season.    Fans are great second-guessers, and, hey, there are times when even Bill Polian admits mistakes may have been made. What do you think?