As many of you, I kind of had a feeling about this season; I liked Austin Collie, I liked Donald Brown. I liked Bob Sanders, Ed Johnson, Ryan Lilja and Marlin Jackson coming back. I liked us re-signing all of last year's linebackers and having them all with one more year of experience. I liked the no-name defensive guys who were making plays in the Preseason. This HAD to be the year, right? Well...the Earth begin to cool, the autotrophs began to drool; Ed Johnson was cut, Tim Jennings was not. Bob Sanders and Marlin were gone, and Vinatieri cracked a bone. (Actually, I'm not certain of Adam's real injury, but it had to rhyme with "gone"). In other words, as in every NFL season, both the expected and the unexpected happened. I lived 15 exciting weeks of Colts victories, followed by two bittersweet "losses". I wasn't that bothered about the benching of our starters (It's hard to be AS angry as BBS was), and the Wes Welker injury made define my position about it: I think it was the best thing to do.
It's hard, you know...Hadn't felt this bad in a while, and I mean it.... As I've told you many times, I live in Costa Rica...and this feeling I've got is something NOBODY understands around here. So, as I can't digest reading the thousands of articles around the internet, or the thousand of broadcasts and TV Shows, all related to last Sunday; I'm gonna tell you my opinion about our Colts season that just ended yesterday, and how I lived it. It may not be interesting, I know, but it's the only way I've got to set all this stuff free, out of me. I know I've made a couple of "funny" articles before, but I'm telling you: This one is not. Sooo...here we go.
Then, the 2009 playoffs came. Here's when many people come out as football fans around here in Costa Rica. "Yeah, I'm a Saints fan!" "I'm rooting for the Chargers"...blablabla..Yeah, right! THAT'S being a fan... The funny story begins here: I didn't meet a single person rooting for the Colts, except for my dad who rooted for them because of me, and because he is a Dolphins fan. Here's when I first heard about the "Who dat!" thing, and it sounded funny to me.
Let's fast-forward a little bit: the AFC Championship Game. I watched this game at the beach with a couple of friends, my dad and my older-OLDER brother. This game was magic for me...60 minutes of Colts football, Peyton Manning shining and shuting up all the critics who said he was an Interception Machine in the Post-Season. "The defense won that Ravens game" "Peyton threw two picks!"...I was tired of listening and watching and reading about that second Ed Reed interception that was turned back because of a pass interference. It didn't happen! Anyway, Peyton and Co. were absolutely brilliant! And watching Edge out there with Peyton, Pierre, Jim Irsay and Jim Caldwell made me drop tears. I was excited, we were going to the Super Bowl!
Two weeks. I had to wait TWO weeks for the last game of the 2009 NFL Season.The first week was a bit calmed. I read about Jim Caldwell's gameplan; treating it like they were playing next Sunday. My opinion about the Saints at this moment was: "Cool! They're a good team, everybody expects this to be a great game and I trust my Colts' defense to stop this guys". A thousand "WHO DATS!" later, I started disliking them. Add up Greg Williams' "Remember-me shots", and my concept about them changed completely. When I heard those comments, the first thing I thought was: "We're going to win, and by far more than just a couple of points. Peyton Manning is going to kick this guy's butt!". I didn't care that people used to call them 'Aints, I didn't care about Mike Ditka giving up a whole draft for Ricky Williams, I didn't care about Drew Brees' magical arrival because of a Dolphins turn down, and I honestly didn't care about the whole "From Katrina to Super Bowl". Don't get me wrong, I know all the things people in New Orleans went through, but I just don't consider a Super Bowl win to be a real help for an already risen up city...Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe you think I'm a horrible person, but I think they're already united, they're already supporting the team and the outcome of a football game doesn't make it neither better or worse. I tried to help as much as I could from here back then, as I do now with Haiti; but this is football, it's a GAME! Don't relate a game with life-threatning disasters.
A week away from the Super Bowl, the possibilities of cheering for a team were 50-50, or at least that's what simple math would tell you, right? Nope; even at that point, I still hadn't met anyone rooting for the Colts except my Dolfan dad and my girlfriend. This was also my first week of school after a two-month vacation, so I heard a lot more about football from my school friends. Everyday I came after school to watch SportsCenter, while checking SI.com, CBS.com, ESPN.com, FOXSports.com, StampedeBlue.com, IndyFR..etc., more than usually, listening to every single interview, and trying to get as much info as I could about Dwight Freeney's injury. Now I wasn't that sure of us kicking their butts; Freeney is a huge factor.
Super Bowl Game Day. I woke up at 9:30 a.m., a little bit earlier than my normal Sunday. A couple of friends were coming to watch the game at my house. One of then texted me: "Scared?" (In Spanish, of course). "Anxious" I replied. I wasn't scared, I trusted my team. I trusted Peyton's preparation, I trusted Jim Caldwell's motivation, I trusted our defense. Not only for this game; I had faith in them since Week 1. Besides, I knew Dwight Freeney was going to play. I didn't know how effective he would be, but I knew the Saints were going to have to prepare for him, and account for him for at least part of the game. I had read tons of articles and watched lots of shows, but I hadn't heard Tony Dungy's take on the game until Sunday. "I would be absolutely shocked if the Colts lose". Nobody, nothing gave me more faith than that sentence...He was right, we were favorites to win it. That plus a season of 16 wins made us confident, not "trash talking" confident but confident enough to go out there and play as hard and well as we had been playing all year.
At 5:25 local time, my three friends, my girlfriend and I sat in front of the T.V. waiting for the kickoff. Everytime I play Madden I like to defer, but I know how much Peyton likes to start with the ball. It didn't matter, three and out and we get 3. We shut them down again and got 7 out of a perfect TD pass to Pierre Garcon. I was watching the game "outside" with my friends and my father was watching it in his room because he felt a little bit sick. At the comercial break I went to his room and we smiled together because it all looked perfect. We were having great success passing, on defense and EVEN RUNNING! Then, the Saints started to come back and we got a little unlucky with plays such as that Pierre Garcon drop. A 15 hour long halftime came and we still led...but not Not For Long. The brave Saints took big chances and they paid off.
22-17 they led, setting up to go for 2. Brees threw a pass to the right. From the camera angle it looked complete to me, but then I saw the ball bounce. Incomplete said the referee. I thought: "Peyton's got to waste all 5+ minutes and score a touchdown if we want to be sure we'll win. It's a lot of time, but we're running the ball pretty well...But don't worry, even if they shut us down. We'll shut them back down, and get the ball with less time to make sure we don't leave a single second on that clock!". Then they came back from commercials and they said they were reviewing the play...overturned (which BBS says was the wrong call, and I agree). "Anyway, we can still tie it with a touchdown" I thought. A few plays later, Tracy Porter picks off Peyton for a TD. "The game clincher" for many. Not for me, I still had faith, I still trusted my team. I saw Peyton on the sideline, and I saw a different look on his face. I don't know how to describe it, but he looked different, in my opinion. Anyway, he managed to get us to the Red Zone, and then after a complete pass to Joseph Addai, I think he accidentaly called for a timeout. It looked like he was asking the coaches about calling it, but made the signal with his hand. Here's when I lost a little bit of my faith. We were under 2 minutes, with only 2 timeouts remaining...I trusted my team, but I didn't trust the "lucky" odds of having to go for an onside kick. A couple of plays later, on a play that lasted hours in my mind, we lost possession on downs, and therefore, the Super Bowl.
I didn't say anything...I didn't shout like everytime Dwight Freeney made a sack, or jumped around like when we scored a touchdown or made a big play. I just pressed the "OFF" button on the remote and hit the table, with my head down. It was over. I heard my friends laugh. "I'm laughing because I don't know what to say, not because it's funny" one of them said. Some other friends called me, and I didn't answer. My brother called me, and got a little bit angry because I didn't sound happy after he told me to cheer up. It isn't that easy...sorry. My sister came in and said: "Wow, you looked calmed. I thought you were going to be lying on the floor crying."..Yeah, that didn't help either. My girlfriend hugged me, and that cheered me up a little bit. Even though she doesn't know anything about football, I felt someone really cared, not about the game; but she cared because I cared. Later, I talked to my dad and he told me to cheer up, that those things happen in football. He did understand what I was feeling, but of course he didn't feel it that much because it wasn't his team.
Today (Monday) wasn't what I would call a "great" day. Many other friends made fun of the Colts in front of me, because they just don't understand what it's like. Not only because they don't care about football as much as I do, but also because people around here aren't as loyal to their sports teams as they should (Soccer is a great example of that). Today, even people who I thought didn't know a thing about football said something to me. "What's up, Tracy?" was the first thing one of them told me...It took like a minute for me to get it.
Yeah I know I've written a bunch of stuff that most of you won't read completely, but I don't care. I had to let all these things out of me and this is the only way I thought I could do it. At least you guys are real Colts fans, aren't you? Things aren't that bad, after all. I learned a lot these past weeks, including that Tedy Bruschi is the only person I really hate, even though I don't know him. No, really, I not only learned but also enjoyed this season A LOT, and I wanted to thank you guys for being a part of it, and for letting me know that there actually are some real Colts, or at least football fans somewhere in the world. Nothing motivated me as much as the upcoming schedule for the 2010 offseason. With an uncapped season likely coming, I hope we can retain most of our players and build up an even better team for next season, and make it even better with the draft...And a year from now, I hope we are all celebrating because the Colts are World Champions!