Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Vengeance


I speak of revenge again today.

There are so many types of revenge possible for Peyton Manning and the Colts this Sunday.

There's revenge for Colts fans. They've had to spar with Patriots fans over which team is the trademark team of this salary cap era. They've won three Super Bowls, yet all they do is antagonize others. I see Belichick's "class" extends to the fans.

There's revenge against the Patriots. Remember when the little dynasty-that-could won the Super Bowl in 2001, and it was kind of neat? Of course, after that, there was nothing but darkness. And we've all had to hear how great the Pats are. They're the Yankees of the NFL. Gee...if that's not a left-handed compliment, I don't know what is.

There's revenge against the critics. They've poked, prodded, and picked apart this Colts football team and its quarterback. They come out every week, win or lose, commenting on the Colts' defense, or an offensive struggle, or a personnel decision.

There's revenge against fate. For playoff history hasn't been kind to the Colts in Indianapolis. Some call it a curse, others a choke, still others purely bad luck. Seems like the Colts go up against the "hot" team every postseason. This year, they are the hot team, playing with a passion and drive I've seen only once before in a Colts squad. That was the Year of Harbaugh, my high water mark for any NFL team.

There's revenge against time. Time slips by gradually, yet so quickly. The Colts' window supposedly closed when Edgerrin James had knee surgery. It closed again when Edge left for Arizona. Here it is again, Father Time slowly pulling the window shut on a quarterback whose "legacy" remains clouded. Marino? Elway? Certainly not Montana. Apparently, they cloned Joe Cool, and named him Tom.

There's revenge against perception. That the Colts are a soft team, a leaky defensive bucket through which running backs pass right through. It certainly looked that way for 85% of the season. Now, we're the Steel Curtain or something. I chided Bill Polian and Tony Dungy when they insisted the defense was fixable. I guess I should have believed them.

If the Colts win this one, they'll have exorcised a major demon, the most evil and malevolent force in the football world. Manning will no longer be regarded as a massive choke artist. Of course, that will last for about two weeks, when the final Super Bowl history will be written. That's all, of course, if they win.

I am a diehard fan. I know what the Colts are up against from a philosophical, psychological, and logistical perspective. They've approached greatness so many times before, only to fall short, often in a shocking and embarrassing way.

This time there's no Foxboro.

No snow.

No Ty Law.

No Willie McGinest (the jury is still out on "day-to-day" Rodney Harrison).

No excuses.

There is only revenge.

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