Finding Buckner: Search for the Colts' Scapegoat - Day 2

Andy Lyons

Every franchise has one - the player/fan/coach that kept you from getting to the top when you should have. In Boston it's Bill Buckner. In Chicago it's Steve Bartman. In Buffalo it's Scott Norwood. Who is the biggest scapegoat in Indianapolis Colts history? That hasn't been determined - yet.

Welcome to Day 2 of the search for Indy's scapegoat.

If you missed Day 1 (shame on you) you missed a blowout with #1 seed Mike Vanderjagt easily handing the #8 seed Aaron Bailey - as any good #1 seed should. At last check, Vanderjagt had nearly 97% of the votes.

If you'd like further information on the contest you can look at Day 1 by clicking here.

To recap - A couple of months ago I reached out to Colts fans via Twitter (follow me @ColtsInsiders) and asked who they would nominate for such a dubious crown. In other words - in Indianapolis Colts history, who do you love to hate? I got about 12 different names. I selected the best of the best and took the liberty of seeding the top eight.

  1. Mike Vanderjagt
  2. Jeff George
  3. Jim Caldwell
  4. Hank Baskett
  5. Ron Meeks
  6. Bill Polian
  7. Nick Harper
  8. Aaron Bailey
Our first round match-ups look like this:

#1 Vanderjagt vs. #8 Bailey
#2 George vs. #7 Harper
#3 Caldwell vs. #6 Polian (possible upset alert)
#4 Baskett vs. #5 Meeks

Our Day 2 match-up will be between the #2 seed, Jeff George, and the #7 seed, Nick Harper. I'll make the case for each one and you can vote for the winner below.

#2 Jeff George

Profile: Jeff George was an Indianapolis native and attended Warren Central High School. He was the first 'Gatorade National Player of the Year' and originally committed to Purdue University. George transferred to Illinois after his freshman year. The Colts traded up to select George #1 overall and signed him to the richest rookie contract in league history (at that time). George didn't respond well to fans criticism and asked for a trade out of Indianapolis. For his career, George passed for over 27,000 yards with 154 TDs and 113 interceptions while suiting up for the Colts, Falcons, Raiders, Vikings and Redskins.

Years with the Colts: 1990-1993

Best Moments as a Colt:

  1. Drafted #1 overall in 1990, Jeff George was the local boy who would put the Colts on the football map.
  2. George went 5-7 his rookie season, throwing 16 TDs and 13 interceptions despite being sacked 37 times.
Why he is on the list: Jeff George was supposed to be the Colts' savior. When George didn't live up to expectations the fans began to turn on him. The way he responded to the Colts and the city of Indianapolis has made him one of the most hated Indianapolis Colts players of all time.
  1. Jeff George, upset at the way he has been treated in Indianapolis by the fans, walks into GM Jim Irsay's office and demands a trade. Irsay warns George that he is committing 'career suicide' and George decides to holdout for 36 days, missing the beginning of the season.
  2. When George's head coach at Purdue was fired he warned Purdue that they had better consult him about to hire next. They didn't and George transferred to Illinois.
  3. After getting shutout in two straight games in 1992 fans began to boo. George said "Why do I get booed? Here's the honest answer: Because I'm good and I'm good-looking. That's number one. But number two is that I think people still remember the Purdue situation, and I don't think I'll ever live that down, whether I lead the team to a Super Bowl or I'm the top quarterback in the league."
  4. George was known for making rude gestures and blowing up at fans that were critical of him.
  5. When George was pulled from a game late in 1992 for Jack Trudeau he had a heated exchange with headcoach Ted Marchibroda on the sidelines. The Colts went on to win and while the rest of the team was celebrating, George said, "Ted made the decision. He'll have to live with the consequences."
Summary : After researching and re-reading a lot of the things that happened with Jeff George, I'm kind of surprised that he isn't the #1 seed. George further complicated matters by stating that he could fix the Colts offense in 2011 when Manning was out and petitioned to play quarterback for the team. Obviously, the Colts weren't interested. For more reading on the legend of Jeff George, check out this article from the SI Vault.


#7 Nick Harper

Profile: Nick Harper played his college football at Fort Valley State University. He was declared ineligible for his senior season and played a year in the CFL before signing with the Colts. Harper had 15 interceptions over a six year career with the Colts before signing with the Tennessee Titans for the 2007 season.

Years with the Colts: 2001-2006

Why he is on this list: Nick Harper failed to outrun/avoid Ben Roethlisberger in the 2005 NFL Playoffs when Jerome Bettis fumbled the ball at the goaline. With less than two minutes remaining the Pittsburgh Steelers were poised to put the game away when Gary Brackett forced the fumble that was scooped up by Harper. Harper ran downfield before being tripped up by Roethlisberger. Some people blame Nick Harper's wife (Daniell) for the failure because of a domestic dispute the day before the game. Harper was stabbed by his wife during an argument leaving him with a wound that was an inch deep and a half-inch wide.

Summary: The 2005 Indianapolis Colts team was a favorite to win the Super Bowl. If Nick Harper had returned the fumble for a touchdown would Indianapolis have won multiple or back-to-back Super Bowls? Would Harper have been able to get past Roethlisberger without a stab wound on his knee? If Harper had been able to take the fumble the distance we know one thing... the game wouldn't have been left to the leg of Mike Vanderjagt.

I've presented both sides. Now it's your turn.

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