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Happy New Year 2012 From Stampede Blue

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Happy New Year!

Today brings us the beginning of the 2012 year and (for us Colts fans) the merciful end of the 2011 NFL regular season. All season long, writers like me have complained, ranted, protested, and argued nearly everything the Colts have done. Whether it was their incompetent bungling of Peyton Manning neck injury, their misjudgement of the back-up quarterback position, or their inability to field a professional-grade football team for the first 13 weeks of the season, the Colts front office, coaches, and players all looked like a dysfunctional mess in 2011.

In 2012, there will be changes to the roster. There will be changes to the coaching staff. There might even be changes in the front office (we hope). But, all that is unimportant right now. We'll have plenty of time after today to recap the 2011 season and point out all the wonderful things the Colts did to make us fans miserable.

In this post, I'm just going to say thank you. Thank you to YOU. The readers. 2011 was a huge year for us. We're rated in the top five in SB Nation's network of football blogs, and we're consistently (in terms of traffic) one of the most highly read blogs out there. 8 million page views for the year was a record for Stampede Blue, and considering it came in a year that had a loooooooong work stoppage coupled with a 0-13 start to the season for a small market team minus Peyton Manning... well, that's damned impressive.

I also want to thank fellow editor Matt Grecco, who has helped me immensely in both his stats analysis and his game previews. He's also just been a great person to work with for the last four years, or so. Additional thanks to writers David Deitz, Eric Miller, Stew Baker, and Collin McCollough (who left us to make more money at Bleacher Report... booooooo).

As I often say around here, this blog is probably not for raw-raw cheerleaders. We think around here. We analyze. We look at decisions, use our knowledge to break them down, and then formulate conclusions that usually result in a response such as 'WTF was that sh*t!' We don't blindly cheer on incompetence, and we don't particularly think that the people in charge are all that good at what they do. We believe fans are owed a consistently good product on the field, and we think the team should treat them with the respect and class they reasonably deserve.

That's what all this is about, isn't it? It's about the fans, right? In reality, it isn't.

The NFL exists to make money for itself and its corporate sponsors. Budweiser and Comcast are more important to Roger Goodell and Jim Irsay than you or me. If Roger Goodell and Jim Irsay didn't need us, they wouldn't care that stadiums in San Diego, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and St. Louis have had a hard time selling tickets all season. Regardless, just because the NFL isn't for fans doesn't mean we fans should just sit by and watch our favorite teams suck. Shrugging your shoulders, saying 'oh well,' and shuffling on to the next distraction was fine and good before you paid $720 million (and now $28 million annually for maintenance) for Lucas Oil Stadium.

Again, you're paying money to the Colts even if you don't buy tickets!

Knowing this, for me personally the 'oh well' mentality doesn't work anymore. Fans should put the screws to ownership and management. It's 'Win, or GTFO!'

I'm never one to just accept failure. But, that's just me. I'm an activist at heart. A 'troublemaker' as one person (also known as 'my wife') once told me. What we decided to do in 2011 was switch our focus from just reporting on the team to actively using our credibility-influence-whatever to push for change. REAL change.

The goal was to inform, motivate, and get you beer-drinking, Hoosier assh*les to care that stupid people were f*cking up your football team. In some ways, I think we succeeded in doing that.

Going forward, that's what we will continue to do. I won't be arrogant and say this blog is 'THE VOICE OF THE FANS,' because no blog can accomplish that. Some sites cater to blind allegiance to the team, regardless of facts. That's fine. 'Fan' is short for 'fanatical' after all. What we try to be here is a voice of accountability. A voice of anger. A voice of constant 'What Have You Done For Me Lately' towards the team.

The team exists to provide entertainment to us, the customers. That's all. At it's base level, that is what the Colts are about in Indianapolis. What we are about is making sure that entertainment meets with our standards, and let's just as that at $720 million (and $28 million annually in maintenance), we have pretty high standards.

I know many of you beer-drinking, Hoosier assh*les feel similar, and we all sincerely thank you for reading our work. We look forward to your comments, tweets, emails, and other forms of expression as the 2011 season ends and 2012 begins. This year will begin a new era for our Colts, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. We look forward to it.

We hope you do too. Go Colts.