Indianapolis Colts fans: Whose team are you on?
A sizable amount of fan and media response to the Colts success this season is baffling in its unrealistic negativity.
This was made painfully clear after the Colts’ remarkable victory over the Bengals on October 18, 2020. Even here in Horseshoe Heroes, the first several headlines the next day were negative.
Win over Bengals doesn’t exonerate Colts from incredibly sloppy play
Colts’ horrific start against Bengals proves this is all on the coaching
This proves it’s time to move on from TY Hilton
Colts: Rex Ryan and ESPN pregame crew destroy Philip Rivers
Many fans’ tweets and comments echoed that pessimism. The tone of the discourse online raises questions about everyone’s (me included) motivation to be involved in this spectator sport, and about the nature of the Colts’ fan-based culture and community. Are we fans acting like we’re on the same team as the players, coaches and ownership?
There’s no need to document all the caustic articles, posts, comments and tweets, nationally and locally: you can find it easily with it being pointed out.
The Colts ownership, management, coaches and players accept there will be criticism from fans and media. But isn’t accountability a two-way street? I’m calling fans and media out onto that street.
Days before the Bengals game (Colts 31 – Bengals 27), I wrote here that I was symbolically buying up all “stock” in the old lion, QB Philip Rivers, for pennies on the dollar as it were, as so many locally and nationally had written his imminent demise as a starting quarterback in the NFL. My 16 1/2 year study of Rivers, and my soft spot for Lord of the Rings, whispered, “But it is not this day“.
So late Sunday last, the drinks were on me when that “washed-up…liability” Philip Rivers led the team back from 0-21, including his best quarter in his entire career, amassing 371 yds and three passing touchdowns, plus a 55-yard bomb to the one-foot line. Yes, Rivers had an interception, one that put the Bengals at their 12-yard line. Sin City marched 40 yards through the Colts defense, then doinked a 48-yard field goal attempt. And Rivers’ QBR (quarterback rating) was 105, his completion rate 66%.
Randy Moss Got “Mossed” by Philip Rivers
After the victory, I laughed out loud at the ESPN Panel where Rex Ryan and Randy Moss had earlier piled on Philip Rivers. Rex Ryan is a commentator whom no one would hire as a coach. His mouth is bigger than his mind, which is why he (like so many) speak on TV pretending great authority but taking no responsibility. And Randy Moss was never in a conversation as a coach. Moss got mossed by Rivers, who ate Randy’s cornflakes (a receiver coming over the top of another player to pluck away the ball). Moss said that statistically Rivers was contributing nothing to the Colts. Then he produced no statistics. Similar with the self-appointed high priest Mike Lombardi in The Athletic. A headline here reported that Lombardi in an article “crushed” Rivers, but after Sunday’s battle, Rivers’ deeds crushed Lombardi’s words. Neither Ryan, Moss nor Lombardi used facts in their arguments. Maybe because we’re nearing a federal election? Or maybe this is why:
Passing Yards: On a run-first team, Rivers is still currently 7th in the league.
Passes of 20+ yards: Rivers ranks fifth in the NFL in 2020.
Yards Per Attempt: Amongst starting QBs who have played 4+ games, he’s 10th.
Quarterback Rating: 6 spots above Cam Newton amongst regular starters. Throw out the Browns game, where Rivers admitted he “stunk it up”, and the old gunslinger’s average quarterback rating is top 10.
So I was confused when a dark wave of criticism splooshed all over the Colts win. Isn’t this site called Horseshoe Heroes? Sometimes it feels more accurate to say Horseshoe Hosers. If the Colts get that cascade of criticism when they win, what treatment do they get when they lose?
"“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again… who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”— Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States 1901-1909"
Now to the big picture question, fellow fan: Why do you follow sports?
Is it to visit your judgment, loudly, on warriors in the chaos of battle? To have a bitter taste in your mouth (and your words) even after a win? Have you unintentionally sold your football soul to the dark god of pessimism?
Or is your fanhood based on joy? On loyalty? On good-natured debate, practiced with humility?
Whose team are you on? Are you on the Colts team? Or are you acting like an opponent?
This much we know:
- An NFL game win is never guaranteed, never a slam dunk, because a football is pointy, and on Any Given Sunday, you never know which way the ball is going to bounce.
- A football game is unpredictable because human beings are unpredictable.
- A game, and a season, is never, ever lost or won in the first half. This season is only halfway through the second quarter.
- If football make us unhappy more than happy, we should step back. And we should not judge, lest we be judged. If the head coach and owner reserve judgment, we “geniuses” can too.
- Hold your fanhood lightly, as a bird in hand. Joy is fragile and fleeting.
- The glass is half-empty, and it is also half-full. Let’s temper expectations — both positive and negative. If the “experts” on TV demonstrate every week how little they know, we can be humble and enjoy the ride.
- Sports is story. The Colts have several great stories unfolding this season where the ending is unknown. One fascinating story with big plot twists is that of Philip Rivers. Follow the stories.
- We are in this fandom together. In horseshoes, and this Horseshoe, being close counts. Maybe we can teach the politicians something about all being on the same team. Let’s enjoy the discussion.
So are you on the team, or against it?