Colts president Bill Polian. Image: s.wsj.net
The hope that the Colts will attack this game as they have done the previous fourteen. If they don't, if they rest starters early in the contest, then the home crowd will indeed boo the Colts, and boo them mercilessly.
Some of you were a little surprised that I wrote that, including longtime reader Cassieper, who said that the crowd would likely not boo a 14-0 team. True, Colts fans would likely not boo a 14-0 team.
However, Colts fans, and other general NFL fans, will most certainly boo a 14-0 team that quits.
And judging by the actions and comments from Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell these last two days, both men seem legitimately surprised that fans have reacted so negatively to their decision. To this, I simply say this is another example of top NFL people being completely out of touch with their customers. How could they not expect booing? That they did not think these kind of jeers and rancor from fans were possible after willfully and deliberately quitting on an undefeated regular season tells me both Polian and Caldwell simply were ignorant of the hornet's nest they urinated on.
Now, the situation has gotten so bizarre that Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com is linking to me on breaking stories!
Florio has long had a beef with Polian, mainly because Polian seemingly cannot stand the "new media" people like Florio represent. Polian also has a legendary temper, with many league and media people sometimes receiving the blunt end of that temper. So, when we "broke" that Bill Polian seemed to cut short his weekly radio show because Colts fans simply did not swallow the cow dung he was feeding them, Florio could not resist the temptation to link to it.
So, yeah, thank you Bill. Me reporting on your immaturity now has me in league with Mike Florio. I need a shower.
At this point in the circus, I am less about feeding hot coals into my anger furnace and more about moving on. There is no point in piling it on with Polian. His on shoe is shoved so far into his mouth that the heel is sticking out of his butt. He's seems an out-of-touch, angry, self-centered guy who is a very poor listener and does not truly value his customers. He doesn't consider, or does he seemingly care about, the concerns of fans. On his radio show, he belittles them, essentially calls them liars, and storms out on them when they point out his BS. And while all fans respect and honor the magnificent job he has done building great teams in Indy, the fact of the matter is fans do not care what you have accomplished when you treat them like ignorant children. If you have been labeled a quitter (which Polian has at this point) and as someone who treats respectful disagreement with mindless anger and illogical babble (which, again, Polian has) then fans are not going to tolerate you not matter your professional achievements.
Mind you, I write all this as a fan of Bill Polian's accomplishments. I've written many an article on Bill's genius as a personnel man. As a man in general, Bill leaves a lot to be desired.
Going back to Polian's radio show, and to his statements the day before (which also belittled fans), the reason the Colts quit against the Jets was because the organization wanted them healthy for the playoffs. Winning 23 straight regular season games meant something to Polian. Winning the most games in a decade meant something to Polian. Going 16-0 didn't.
Obviously, that makes absolutely no logical sense.
After attaining homefield, 23 straight, and most wins in a decade, Polian felt the final two games of the season should be treated as pre-season games. Fans disagreed. Media disagreed. Most likely, players disagreed. Polian ignored all this.
Now, he and the Colts are paying the price.
So, to recap, Bill Polian said the reason he instructed the Colts to quit against the Jets was because he wants the Colts healthy for the playoffs. The goal is to win the Super Bowl. A 16-0 regular season is meaningless. Forget the stupidity of assuming both are mutually exclusive. I mean, how silly for anyone to expect both when both are very much attainable. 16-0 is meaningless to Polian. Fine. His opinion, shared by few. This now means the Colts absolutely, positively must win the Super Bowl just to save face. If they don't, if they lose at any point in the playoffs, Polian and Caldwell will immediately become laughing stocks. Fans will then run both of them out of Indy.
Yes, it's true. If I know anything, I know fans. When you ignore them and embarrass them for the sake of winning something bigger down the road, you better friggin deliver that "something" down the road. If you don't, pack your bags. Caldwell's decision in the third quarter very well could be the defining moment of his entire coaching tenure, unless he wins a Super Bowl. A Super Bowl validates everything Polian preaches about rest, momentum, and "meaningless games" at the end of the season. Winning validates all in sports, and true "winning" in the NFL is winning the Super Bowl. If the Colts do that, Polian is validated and fans will back off.
If the Colts do not win, pitch forks and torches for Polian and Caldwell.
I understand Polian just had his contract extended, and his son was just promoted to GM. Doesn't matter. Fans will boo and jeer him wherever he goes. They'll insult, berate, and treat him with the same attitude he has treated them with. They'll boo him at training camp, boo him during games, and they will certainly boo him on his radio show if he continues doing it.
This is the last I will write on this subject, unless something else pops up that is newsworthy. We've had some wonderful articles from folks like shake n bake and KingRichard, offering outstanding reasons why benching players in the third quarter was best for the team. I disagree, and likely the majority of Colts fans disagree. But, the issue is now beyond that. Now, Polian has painted himself in a corner. If he thought the pressure and distraction of an undefeated regular season was something the Colts did not need, he doesn't know his fans. If the Colts struggle at any time during the playoffs, fans will boo the team at home. They'll boo Caldwell, wear paper bags on their heads, and hold up signs saying "FIRE POLIAN!"
By acting the way he has acted, and saying the things he has said these last two days, Bill Polian has guaranteed a Super Bowl win for his fans. If he doesn't deliver, fans will indeed demand his (proverbial) head on a silver platter. You don't treat people like children, say "I KNOW BEST!", and then not deliver without there being some kind of accountability. Polian better deliver, or else.
I hope he understands the situation he has placed himself, the Colts, and their fans in.