One of the highlights of my "blogging career" (I put that in quotes because it's actually more preposterous than the term "blogging career" sounds) was covering Super Bowl XLIV in Miami between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts. It was great not because I got to cover my favorite team in the biggest game there is, but for all the knowledge and experience those two weeks in late-January, early-February 2010 gave me.
Having long sit down conversations with coaches like Tom Moore and Gene Huey taught me more about football, and life in football, than I ever could reading books like this one. Having a drink and a chat with Peter King, which ended up turning into a lengthy interview about the business, life, and the changing landscape of media was also a big thrill.
Covering events like Media Day, the Hall of Fame announcements, and actually being present at the game, covering it from the press area, are things I can scratch off the bucket list. I'm a tad envious of Niners Nation's David Fucillo, who is in New Orleans covering the 2013 Super Bowl.
Looking back on the Colts devastating loss to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, I've come to think that, maybe, losing wasn't really all that bad.
Think about it. Does the Saints win really feel like a legitimate victory? I mean, does it really? Yeah, sure, they've got a trophy and are listed as "winners" in record books that no one reads, but in light of the bounty fiasco, Gregg Williams' suspension, Sean Payton's suspension, Jonathan Vilma's decline, and all the other allegations surrounding this incredibly dark and devious franchise, is it really a complete victory for them?
The short answer is no. It's a tainted Super Bowl.
For the Colts, we now have the benefit of hindsight, and the passage of time has taught us that Bill Polian wasn't as good as we thought he was. Remember, like Ryan Grigson in 2012, Bill Polian won Executive of the Year in 2009. As the Colts enter free agency for 2013, not one player from the 2009 NFL Draft is expected to return. Players like Donald Brown (1st round) and Fili Moala (2nd round) developed into little more than serviceable backups. When the 2013 season begins, the Colts roster will likely be completely devoid of 2009 talent. Remarkable, if you think about it.
Had the Colts won Super Bowl XLIV, Bill Polian and his son, Chris, would likely still be in charge of the front office today. Even if 2011 had played out exactly as it did, with an 0-13 start, a Super Bowl victory just two years prior would have made it impossible for Jim Irsay to de-Polianize the organization. Also, Jim Caldwell would still be the Colts head coach. If we're to trust Tony Dungy (who told NBC prior to the 2012 draft that Polian was leaning away from Luck), the Polians could have drafted Robert Griffin III if the Colts still had the first overall pick in 2012. This would have meant a 2012 Polian controlled team coached by Jim Caldwell and quarterbacked by RG3.
No Andrew Luck.
No 11-5 season.
I shudder to think of how long RG3 would have lasted behind a Polian built offensive line in Indianapolis. I'd say the over 4, under 6.
It is kinda fun to speculate on how things could have worked out if the Colts had won in 2009. However, as the old saying goes, sometimes things happen for a reason. Just as Peyton Manning's neck injury (which was a result of Gregg Williams imposing a bounty program in Washington when he was the defensive coordinator there in 2006, speaking of full circle) opened the door for the Colts to draft Luck, Super Bowl XLIV hastened the necessary change that was required in the Colts front office.
Thus, in hindsight, I'm glad the Colts lost.
I like this new direction they are heading in. I like their coach and their general manager better. It's taken me a year to admit this to myself, but I even like the quarterback better. Yes, yes, yes. There is no fiercer defender of No. 18 than me. Ask any Patriots fan I've ever yelled at in a pub or stadium setting. However, I think No. 12 is a bit more special, and a bit less self-obsessive.
So, while I'll continue to rant, cry, scream, shriek, and spit bloody nails after each and every loss, time and experience have now rewarded me with
a weak right knee and gray hairs the benefit of perspective. Sometimes, things just work out.