The first was brought to everyone's attention here by MonkeyBusiness who found an absolutely wonderful article about Joseph Addai. It's funny, because in another thread Terry and I were debating whether Addai was a difference maker, and it was Terry strongly asserting that he is. After reading this article, you pretty much have to be a heartless troll not to like Joseph Addai. He's almost too good to be true, but even when you look deeper into his personality you see he is the genuine article. Here's some tidbits from the article:
He drops the line with absolute sincerity, then slides to the edge of his couch with conviction when a visitor rolls his eyes skeptically.
"Naw, really," the Indianapolis Colts running back insists. "Even now, when they bring another running back in, I think about losing my job."
It's not exactly a valid concern these days. Not for a player who has replaced Edgerrin James as seamlessly as James once replaced Marshall Faulk. And certainly not likely for a player who became the star of last season's talent-packed class of rookie running backs. Reggie Bush can have the throne as the NFL's new messianic advertising force, but it's Addai who has earned the title of dependable go-to running back.
"'When you talk about Joe," Colts safety Bob Sanders says, "you're talking about the guy who has the full, full, full package."
It's amazing that a player like Addai, who is more firmly entrenched at his running back position than Reggie Bush is, legitimately thinks his job is in doubt, and as a result works harder. In this era of sports, bred of the Deion highlight reel, it is the rarest of treasures to find a great athlete like Addai who values humilty and hard work over endorsements, glamour, and glitz. Another part of the article brought a smile to my face, and made me remember how much I miss Dom:
Rhodes talks about how Addai is destined for greatness and how his game is so similar to Edgerrin James'. Most of all, he talks about how even though Addai was essentially drafted to take Rhodes' starting job, Addai became one of his best friends.
The statement is odd for a league where running back rotations are often awkward, if not entirely strained. But Rhodes, now with the Oakland Raiders, and Addai were the antithesis of that in 2006, proving to be the foil of such emotionally disastrous pairings as the Chicago Bears' platoon of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson.
"He came into the league like a guy who didn't expect to be a first-round pick," Rhodes said. "It's something that some of these guys need to learn, that it's not about one person. It's about the team, and Joe took that to heart."
And it's Rhodes who seems genuinely offended that Addai hasn't received more attention this season. He clucks his tongue in disgust when he thinks about Bush being branded the league next superstar. He notes that it's Addai who owns a Super Bowl ring and scored the game-winning touchdown in the AFC Championship game. And it's Addai who became the first running back in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards despite not starting a single game.
"In college, Reggie had all the highlight reels, and people kind of live on that," Rhodes said. "Maybe it takes people who have to work hard in this league to appreciate a guy like Joseph. It takes people who understand football to see the value of a guy like Joe, who can do everything on the field. You know, he's not a flashy guy, one of those guys that's going to break 80-, 90-yard runs. But he's a guy that can get between the tackles, go outside them, can catch the ball and can block.
"He can do everything a true running back can do and he can do it all well. That stuff gets overlooked in our game when you see guys running around putting on jackets that say 'Hall of Fame' and doing the flashy stuff like that."
"The first time I talked to him, he told me about following Marshall Faulk and how Faulk used to tell him all kinds of things," Addai said of James, who has remained close to members of the organization since joining the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent in 2006. "It's like a big brother situation. When I'm making a decision, I go to him. He's the first guy I go to. He's a guy that I respect and who I can open up to."
Read the rest of the Addai article. It's worth it. From a football business standpoint, it was right to let Edge and Dom go. That still doesn't mean I don't miss them, because I do. The people most responsible for the Colts becoming a championship-caliber team are Manning, Dungy, Vinatier, Freeney, and Edge. Edge is such a cool dude, such a solid guy, his demeanor rubs off on others and helps make tight knit football teams.
The other article worth noting is a fine piece by SI on the character of the Colts and how the conduct themselves at their facility. While other clubs have secret cameras and while Nick Saban is busy abusing his secretaries, Tony Dungy and the Colts go about their business in a professional, courteous manner:
"Are we too loud?" Dungy, ever courteous, asked.
The employee said no and continued walking.
That small snapshot is the essence of Dungy -- considerate, understated -- and, in some ways, the same applies to a Colts team that has quietly and without fanfare begun the defense of a Super Bowl title with a 3-0 record to sit atop the better-than-advertised AFC South.