Friday, February 23, 2007

When you gotta go...

I had a great experience today. I waited in line at Meijer in Southport for about an hour and a half, so I could briefly touch the Colts' Lombardi Trophy. That's right: I've touched the greatest achievement in Indianapolis Colts history. I also took a picture, but it's on my camera phone, so that's where the picture will have to stay. Thank you so much, Colts Championship Trophy Tour. It was great to share that moment with hundreds of other Colts fans.

I just had to go. Speaking of "having to go," please read the following.

Now, of course, the ongoing Dominic Rhodes saga will continue Monday, when he's due in court for a hearing of some type. You can bet the local TV stations will be all over this. I hope they report on one little detail from the police report. According to the Indianapolis Star, here's partially what was in the report:

(Officer) Hafez said he clocked Rhodes at 82 mph in a 55-mph zone and watched the Colts player's GMC Yukon drive onto the shoulder briefly just after 3 a.m. Tuesday on northbound I-65 near 71st Street.

After failing two field-sobriety tests, Rhodes told Hafez he had consumed two or three alcoholic drinks. While sitting in the police car's front seat, Rhodes urinated on himself, the report said. Later, Rhodes' blood-alcohol level tested at 0.09, just over the 0.08 level at which an Indiana driver is considered drunk.

That's right, folks. The super-awesome running back who pounded the Chiefs, Ravens, Patriots, and Bears wet his pants. In the police cruiser. I read that this morning at work, and my goodness, it made my day. I guess the question now is: did he pee himself because he was scared, or because he just couldn't hold it any more!?

Wow.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Good-Time Pacers

Bob Kravitz wrote a column this week about how the Pacers and Colts shouldn't be perceived as "Sinners" vs. "Saints." This, of course, followed the OWI/DUI/drunken driving charges against Dominic Rhodes, who spoiled the perception that the Colts are well-mannered. Of course, if you read my post yesterday, you know that I don't think the Colts are all that wholesome. They're good guys, not great ones, and they make mistakes like anyone else.

Now comes word that Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels have been indicted for that little fight/incident at Tremors/Eight-Second Saloon. The allegations are nothing new, but a grand jury found enough evidence to pursue a case. Apparently, the TrailPacers/JailPacers still know how to have a good time, even with Stephen Jackson's too-late banishment to Golden State (we still miss Al Harrington). Do I have a point here? Well, not really. I would like to know why the Pacers insist on getting into trouble during the season. I mean, both Jack's Club Rio shooting and the Tinsley/Daniels fight happened at a time when the team should be concentrating on basketball. Of course, I know fans like me really get into the season, and actually care about what happens on the court. Sometimes, we don't realize that for these guys, basketball's just a job (that pays really well). Pro athletes may not actually care as much as fans about winning. If they did, stuff like shootings and fights simply wouldn't happen with the frequency they currently do.

I mean, when you're getting ready to start the season, why go out at night to a strip club? Why (allegedly) get into a fight with a handicapped guy at Club Rio? Of course, if the surveillance video is right, Stephen Jackson actually fired in self-defense. That's the same self-preservation instinct that kicked in when he jumped into the stands against Detroit a few years ago. I was devastated when I heard evidence showed Jackson fired in self defense. But legally, no matter your opinion, that's the truth. So, we figured everything would be okay after the Pacers traded Jackson. What I didn't realize was that Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels, both involved in the Club Rio shooting, were such miscreants. They deserve to be just as scorned and derided as Jack. Anyone who fails to see that these guys are bad seeds, and that the Pacers are defending them despite a lot of public anger and apathy toward the team, is deluded. I mean, the Pacers front office just can't seem to figure out why no one cares about the team. Why is attendance down? Hmmmm...maybe it has something to do with on- and off-the-court thuggery. I think the fans were willing to cut the team a little slack after the Artest fight. I, like many, thought Ben Wallace was responsible for much of the problem, and got off easy. I thought maybe Artest could redeem himself. But before you know it, he's promoting an R&B group and his own rap album. Then he's getting a feel-good article in the Star about how he's changed. Then, he's changing his number again. Then he's asking for a trade. So long, Mixmaster Ron.

Since then, the Pacers have been making some terrible moves. First and foremost, getting rid of Anthony Johnson was a mistake. As much as I love Al Harrington, bringing him back was a temporary media coup and nothing more. The core of the team, Jermaine O'Neal, needed to go, but his contract made him impossible to trade; same way with Jamaal Tinsley. I once joked that the Pacers should trade Jackson, Tinsley, and J.O. to the Knicks in exchange for a billion dollars. It's a shame Isiah Thomas didn't hear about my offer. The culture, as we've heard so often, must change in Indianapolis. That means it's time to get rid of whiny J.O. and get some people with some grit (you know, guys the team traded away like Anthony Johnson). But Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird show a stubborn refusal to admit they're wrong. Until they reverse course, until this team reverses course, the Pacers will be stuck in a perpetual state of mediocrity.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Super Celebration! Let's get drunk!

Wow.

The Super Bowl celebration sure has lasted a long time for Dominic Rhodes.

How long? The Colts running back was just picked up for "operating a vehicle while intoxicated." That translates into "driving drunk," which is never a good things, kiddies. Ironically, if I'd been an hour later to work this morning, I would've passed Rhodes and his arresting officer, since this all happened near the Lafayette Road exit on I-65 in Indianapolis around 3 a.m. I'm assuming he was NOT headed for the Colts complex for an emergency, late-night round of practice drills.

I guess it's a good thing this didn't happen immediately after the Super Bowl, since that would've put a real damper on the celebration among players and fans. I just wish it hadn't happened at all.

The Colts are not the Pacers, but they're not exactly a collection of great men, either. They're a collection of decently good guys, for the most part. Yet, we've had a few run-ins here and there that make the team look pretty bad. Not like a bunch of miscreants, mind you, but pretty bad.

Let's review:

Mike Doss. A free agent who may not be back, he was arrested on gun charges after opening fire at a club in Akron, Ohio. This led to a lot of wonderful jokes on the part of Krildog and me. One of my favorites is the "20-Doss gun salute."

DeDe Dorsey. Sure, no one heard of the backup running back and special teams player until state police caught him speeding around playoff time with an unregistered gun. I haven't mined much fun out of this one, since Dorsey isn't an every day player. And yes, the world is a darker place for that.

Nick Harper. Ah, the veteran cornerback (and key free agent) has quietly been the Colts' best defensive back for several seasons now. A vicious tackler, it seems like he's usually able to make some plays. He was hobbled in the Super Bowl with the mysterious "high ankle sprain," but had a nice season. Unfortunately, Harper doesn't limit his hits to on the field. He's been accused of hitting his wife. Actually, the two have kind of an intense relationship. If you'll recall, Harper's wife stabbed him in the knee just before last year's Steelers game. Yes, that's the reason Nick couldn't outrun Ben Roethlisberger.

Montae Reagor. Another of Krildog's and my favorite targets, Montae ran into a little trouble with a former girlfriend who apparently never heard of caller ID. Reagor continually called the woman, leading to allegations of harassment. I often refer to him as Montae "Keep Calling" Reagor. This all happened when he was with the Broncos, but he did have to make a court appearance when he was with the Colts. Now, Montae is a disfigured Quasimodo of a man, following an unfortunate car accident. As a friend at work put it, he went "all Vanilla Sky on us." I hear #90 is doing well, though.

Bob Sanders. Sadly, Sanders has been mired with accusations that he's actually a meta-human, since his hits pack the firepower of a missile. Okay, I made that one up.

Cato Junes. Failed to appear in court for a hearing. The free agent was accused of driving on a suspended license in Indiana's Boone County. But now he shills a local car company, so I guess that's all been worked out.

Corey Simon. Accused of operating an unlicensed movie chain after showing movies on his ass. Yeah, it's that big.

Peyton Manning. Other than a pseudo-charge of mooning an athletic trainer at college, Peyton's been accused of being unable to win the big one. The charges have since been dropped.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Change in the winds


I'm not sure exactly when the change happened.

It could've been when Jim Harbaugh and company came within a touchdown pass of making it to Indy's first Super Bowl.

It could've been when baseball players cancelled the season over greed in 1995.

It could've been when Peyton Manning threw a slant pass to Marvin Harrison for a touchdown on his first pass in his first preseason game.

It could've been when the Cincinnati Reds became a shell of their former selves and a joke around the MLB.

It could've been when my high school baseball coach started being a jerk.

Somewhere along the line, baseball, my lifeblood, my passion, became second fiddle to NFL football, and football in general. I used to have a t-shirt that said, "Baseball is LIFE. The rest is just details." I used to believe that.

I don't believe it anymore.

Oh, yes, I get as excited as anyone for spring training, and look forward to seeing the boys of summer jack monster home runs and dive insanely to rob the batter of a well-hit line drive. In the back of my mind, though, I'm thinking about football. It's like the Arby's commercials, except there's a big Horseshoe floating over my head.

When we get through the awesomeness of March Madness, and past the novelty of the first three weeks of baseball, I'm already thinking about the first preseason game. I'm ready to see Peyton and company show up for two series, and cash it in. I'm ready to watch four quarters of mind-bendingly bad preseason football, because that's better than watching the 90th Yankees-Red Sox game. After all, by then, the Reds won't be near first place anyway.

It's hard for me to admit this, and I've been avoiding the admission for a very long time. I love baseball. I still do, and always will. I just love football more. Baseball was the game I played in high school, the one I was best at. My favorite team, the Reds, even won the World Series in 1990. That's the Chris Sabo/Billy Hatcher/Glen Braggs/Rob Dibble/Tom Browning team that swept the far superior (and, as we now know, "gamma ray-enriched") Oakland A's. I lived and breathed baseball every summer, and spent long hours playing with my brother and my father. I knew the ins and outs of every position, and would just as soon take batting practice than go to the mall.

I think Jim Harbaugh changed all this. With one magical season, he transformed me from a casual football fan (and predominantly a Bengals one at that) into a person completely consumed with the phrases "Go Horse" and "Let 'er Rip." It also probably helped that I played my single season of high school football during this period. The Colts made two straight playoff appearances before turning into the laughing stock of the league for two seasons with back-to-back 3-13 campaigns.

Some may wonder why I even followed Indy. After all, Harbaugh, the fan favorite, my favorite, was traded. Replacing him was a kid named Manning. The team fired Bill Tobin, the GM, and Lindy Infante, the head coach. In their places came men named Bill Polian and Jim Mora. With Harbaugh exiled to hated Baltimore, I wasn't sure if this Manning kid would be all he was cracked up to be.

Take a look at February 4, 2007, and try that statement on for size.

There have been ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments. But through it all, I remained a converted Colts fan. Baseball, once a year-round obsession, became a milder summer diversion. I suppose it's kind of sad. After all, there's nothing better than spending an afternoon at a baseball game. Well, except for devoting the day to a football game.

I guess things really do change.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Evening

Yes, I recorded the Game.

And yes, that's exactly what I'm watching once I get off work. You can bet on that.

I didn't get a proper night's sleep after the Super Bowl. I don't usually get a good night's sleep on Sunday anyway, but when the game and the post-postgame show end at 11:00 p.m., and you're a hungry Colts fan trying to bask in the moment, well, you'll sacrifice some sleep. After all, the "oh my gosh we won the Super Bowl" high stays with you for several hours.

This was a strange game. There's no doubt about that. The Colts checked just about every little detracting factor off the list. Soft? Check. Can't win in the elements? Check. Can't win the Big One? Check. All of that is in the past.

Dungy got his trophy, and so did Peyton. I couldn't be any happier for the both of them.

The game was such a team win, it was hard to pick an MVP. Manning had a nice game, no doubt, and did a good job of protecting the ball. He let the running game dominate, and threw a bunch of underneath passes. He had several key completions, but directed the offense to two touchdowns. Boasting a single TD pass (as big as it was), Manning obviously won this award because of the difficulties he's faced just getting there. If the Colts didn't use two running backs, then I think Addai or Rhodes would've gotten the honors. Either one would've arguably made a fine MVP, even in the two-back system. The offensive line had another terrific game. The line's dominance has been a key component of the Colts' postseason run. I know you can't give it to multiple players, but that unit played about as good of a game as anyone.

Defensively, there were several stars as well. Bob Sanders was all over the place (I saw a great quote the other day: 75% of the world is covered by water, the other 25% is covered by Bob Sanders), making an interception and forcing a fumble. Gary Brackett made some key tackles, and did a good job against the run. Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, and Anthony McFarland had good games, though probably not MVP-worthy performances. And Kelvin Hayden made one of the biggest plays of the game, sealing the deal with an interception TD return. That play alone could have been enough to earn the MVP.

Watching the victory "parade" and the celebratory rally on TV yesterday was awesome. There's a large part of me that would've like to have gone to the festivities in person. The cold didn't deter me; instead, it was the lack of sleep. I referred to it earlier in this post. I just couldn't go downtown to spend a bunch of hours waiting for the Colts to come. It would've amounted to about a six-hour event for me. Since the parade was supposed to start at 4:00 p.m., I would've arrived around two, because I'm always early. But the parade got delayed until about six, and the speeches didn't start in the Dome until seven. It would've all been over around eight or so, plus there would've been traffic to worry about. I was already working on very little sleep. If you're wondering, I couldn't take any days off because I work in TV, and we're in the February Sweep. I'm also not the kind of person just to "call off," even if it's the greatest thing ever.

Watching it on TV was just as gratifying (and a little warmer, too!). It was nice to see the guys bundled up and interacting with the fans on big floats. The lead float with Dungy, Polian, and Irsay on top reminded me (for reasons I'll never be able to fully explain) of the courtroom scene in Star Trek VI with Kirk and McCoy. Again, I have no idea why. Manning's speech was very short, but I'm sure he's talked enough as it is. He still stole more screen time than Harrison!!!

The defense chanted "REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT" last night, but I don't know if that will happen. The Colts lose a ton of players, and don't have much cap room. So I don't see how they're going to be able to keep everyone on the roster. Key players like Freeney, Cato June, Nick Harper, Rob Morris, and Dominic Rhodes are unrestricted. Restricted free agents include Jason David, Jake Scott, Ryan Lilja, Ben Utecht, and, oh dear Lord, cancel the season, JIM SORGI.

But that's looking ahead too far. It's time to enjoy the moment, right?

I'm going to buy my championship hat and t-shirt today.

And tomorrow, I'll figure out how to keep TFT puttering along without having Colts stuff to talk about.

Okay, I settled for the hat and the hooded sweatshirt.

I'm giving the t-shirt to my wife.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Two Days Away...

Here we are, with Super Bowl XLI just around the corner. I have to ask myself: is this really happening?

I mean, when the game starts Sunday, will the Colts and Da Bears actually take the field? Or will the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots ambush everyone by bursting out of the tunnel to battle for the Lombardi Trophy? Will Peyton Manning be under center, or will Tom Brady (who, as seen in exclusive TFT photos, apparently likes the Bears)? Will Rex Grossman start for Chicago, or will Brian Griese? I must know!

I work for a TV station in Indianapolis, and we've sent reporters to Miami. I see their reports every day, but I get kind of a "we faked the moon landing" feeling from those pieces. I see Peyton and company splashed across SportsCenter, I see Tank Johnson taking target practice outside the University of Miami practice complex, yet there's a sense this is all as fake as Laser Rocket Arm's wig in that Sprint commercial.

Is this really happening?

Did the Chicago Bears, under the determined leadership of Lovie Smith, power through the NFC Championship Game? Wasn't this supposed to be the Story of the Year with the New Orleans Saints? Did the New England Patriots, proud franchise and root of unspeakable pain for Colts fans, actually choke? Weren't Peyton Manning and the soft Colts running game/defense supposed to lay down so the Pats could be anointed the Best Team Ever?

I am shocked that these teams are where they are now. But ex-Arizona coach Dennis Green isn't shocked. I mean, how jazzed up must he be that he predicted this Bears Super Bowl Berth all along? After all, they are who he thought they are! The Bears boasted a glitzy record, but their wins were anything but entertaining, for the most part. Featuring Rex "Gunslinger" Grossman, the Bears offense lulled many football fans to sleep (or gave Bears fans nightmares when Evil Rexy showed up with his sub-30 QB rating). Yet, here the Bears are.

I, like many, figured the Colts were ready for a "one and done" performance in the postseason. They limped through the end of the season, with especially embarrassing losses against Tennessee, Houston, and Jacksonville (375 rushing yards allowed vs. Jax; I still can't believe that). A first-round matchup against KC and Larry Johnson looked to spell doom for the struggling rush defense. Yet, here the Colts are.

This has been a tough two weeks. A fan at heart, all I care about is the game. I don't care about the commercials, the halftime show, what fans are doing in Miami, the parties, the celebrities; I don't want any part of it. That's what we've had to endure over the last two weeks (and by we, I do mean ALL football fans). Is there a game in the middle of all this craziness? Do they actually play football during the Super Bowl? Or is it all commercials, pitches, and such? I mean, for the love of everything holy, SportsCenter had a "Campbell's Soup Media Availability" with Donovan McNabb. Unbelievable. Is his team even in the game?

The answer to that question is a resounding no. But the answer the game question is a resounding yes; there actually is a game in the middle of this Super Bowl.

It's the Bears vs. the Colts.

Godspeed, Indy.