You all might not like the specter of quitting in Week Sixteen being brought up yet again around here, but the fact that the Colts are playing the Jets in the AFC Championship Game nearly one month after "Quittergate" means that the negativity and the harsh feelings surrounding that game will indeed be discussed by everyone once again.
People in the media, and many fans, feel the Colts did a disservice to the NFL's legacy and damaged the integrity of the game. The complaints got so loud that Commissioner Goodell himself had to step in and say the NFL will look into the issue, adding that he felt teams should not do what the Colts did. Add to this the notion that had the Colts not given up in the game, the Jets very likely would not be in the playoffs. Also factor in that Jets coach Rex Ryan is an absolute media darling. They flat out love the guy for reasons that, quite frankly, seem a bit irrational. They love his honesty and the freshness he brings to press conferences. This contrasts completely with the gruff, angry bitterness exuded by Bill Polian (a man loathed in just about every media circle) or the boring "coach speak" uttered by Jim Caldwell. Add all this up, and it means one thing:
Everyone and their grandmother will be rooting for the Jets this weekend.
The spin cycle will frame this game as the team that never quits (the Jets) against the team that did (the Colts). The Jets are a "monster" the Colts created by quitting on them in Week Sixteen and thus allowing them to get into the playoffs and wreak havoc. Without the Jets, the ESPNs of our world would have the "dream" match-up of Chargers v. Colts, or possibly the Steelers getting in and we have Steelers v. Ravens all over again. Now that they are in the AFCCG, playing the kind of smash mouth football that many so-called "purists" love, they are the darling to win the game and represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Obviously, I don't like the spin. Neither do you. It's simplistic and incredibly one-sided. But, because of Week Sixteen, there is little I can say to dismiss or debunk the generalization that the Colts are quitters and the Jets aren't. The Jets are a very easy team to root for and, contrary to what many analysts and fans said prior to the Wild Card round, the Jets absolutely deserve to be in the playoffs. However, it is the circumstances that got them in which seems to have pissed off everyone. For many, Sunday's AFCCG is a chance for karma to come and bite the Colts in the ass.
Seriously, how "karmic" (or "ironic," or "poetic," or whatever) would it be for the team the Colts laid down against in order to rest themselves for a Super Bowl run is the team that defeats them one game from the Super Bowl?
It's the kind of "justice" that journalists loooooooove to write about. Phony talking head love to chat about it on radio shows, and TV "analysts" delight in talking about how the "tough" and "gritty" Jets with their fiery yet personable head coach have a great opportunity to stick it to a team that spit in the face of NFL immortality.
Therefore, like it or not, everyone will root for the Jets.
What does this mean for the Colts and us, their fans?
Well, for the first time, I kind of think people perceive us as the "bad guys." In many ways, we are the team no one wants to see play in the Super Bowl. If the Colts win, it validates Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell resting the starters. It flies in the face of everything everyone had said about them for weeks. I mean, I think it is fairly obvious why Jim Caldwell, who set an NFL record for most consecutive wins by a rookie head coach this season, came in third in the AP Coach of the Year awards. The media hate the guy's guts for throwing away a shot at "perfection." If he were to beat the Jets, it would force the media nitwits who bashed him to admit they were wrong; that the "rest" strategy worked. Even folks like me, who very much wanted the Colts to finish the game against the Jets, would have to admit that the strategy accomplished what it set out to accomplish.
No one wants to do that... well, no one save me. I more than happy to be wrong if it gets my team another Super Bowl ring.
The odd role the Colts play in this AFCCG "drama" is likely unusual for them. It's certainly unusual for me. The "bad guys" used to be the teams the Colts always seemed to lose to, like the Patriots, Steelers, Dolphins, etc. Is the role of the "bad guy" a role the Colts will embrace? For an answer, we go to the Twitter gold mine that is Raheem Brock:
Well....when someones in ur house talkn shit there's only one thing that's gonna happen to shut them up.....
Hit them in the mouth! Maybe if we knock some teeth out too then he won't talk that much!lol
Well, I think that just about answers that question.
I know all of you are plain sick and tired of hearing about Week Sixteen, but the fact is that game is unavoidable at this point. The only was Week Sixteen is finally put in the ground and buried is when the Colts take the media darling Jets and beat the crap out of them. Until that happens, everyone, and I mean everyone, will likely be screaming J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!