Hey everybody! I hope you have all enjoyed your summer and by now you’ve at least seen these few Colts preseason games and the highlights from these preseason games and came away thinking the same kinds of things a lot of other writers have written about for weeks now. Anthony Richardson appears to be every bit of the future of the Colts franchise and thus far, having earned not only the Week 1 starter role but a captaincy as well is well, great for the future of the franchise! A lot of football fans only care about right now, though. More generally speaking, until taught otherwise, people are selfish and self-serving as a means of finding a way to survive. Humans are prone to fight-or-flight and while most people chuff at the thought of middle school science class, until we are taught the value of community and develop a collective agenda, winning football games in the NFL in this case, we are in for a bumpy ride, I’m afraid.
Consider that the Colts are expected to lose Week 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, both a Division foe, the reigning Division Champion and also the chalk pick to win this game and the AFC South Division this season. If there has been anything we have learned so far this football year is that preseason/preseason rankings doesn’t/don’t mean anything (thank you, Deion!) and nor does it matter what you have done for me lately (TCU just played in the National Championship 8 months ago and got housed by Georgia what was it, 65-7?) apparently because while it feels like only myself and Pat McAfee thought Colorado was going to win that game because well, again TCU just gave up a million points in the ‘Natty and also, from an outsider’s perspective, Deion Sanders gives you a lot to like and is showing you the blueprint for success in today’s college football landscape.
In case you missed it, I have started my football coaching career! I am helping to start a brand-new high school football program in the inner-city of Indianapolis, Indiana. For those of you from the area, we are located in the old Broad Ripple High School. When I started, we had 4 players and I am the only other coach on the staff besides the Head Coach. We now have about 16 active players and are about to play our third game in our young existence as a program. There is no marching band, there are no cheerleaders, and we have already had to forfeit a game because we didn’t have enough healthy players to play due to the literal flu.
One of the first things that I learned is that often, you will not have the necessary equipment, financial support or support generally from the adults around you until you win, I’m assuming, with the exception to the donated equipment our principal and Athletic Director came up with before I got there. We just ended our first fundraiser as a program and not a single administrator, teacher or IPS employee other than my Head Coach, myself and the head janitor donated or participated in a meaningful way in said fundraiser. Our first two games were against The Indiana Deaf School, who played 11-man football last season and had a highly-ranked offense to boot, and then against the Fort Wayne Crusaders, a name I recognized from semi-pro football, but again who had been playing 8-man football for four years now. We have given up over 100 points in two games and are yet to score a touchdown. I don’t feel like either of those losses count against me or these kids. Who does that to a bunch of freshmen in high school?
What I’ve come to realize and hope to instill into those I come in contact with, is that what we see on TV is the result of the level of commitment and consistency a team has for what is often referred to as “the process”. I try to tell my athletes to get 8 hours of sleep per night, join my wife and I for morning workouts 5 of 6 days every week and then try to eat your biggest and healthiest meal within an hour afterward as a means of establishing winning habits from the moment you wake up. I’d try to tell them all to make their bed when they wake up and brush their teeth before they come see me, but I’m trying to get in where I can and don’t want to over-step my bounds. This week, to encourage future participation in these morning workouts, I cooked my athletes breakfast because I’ve come to know these kids are fighting for their life over a good meal all day. Many of them do not eat until after football practice. How can we expect a child to stay awake and invest themselves in learning this game if they’re literally starving?
We need more than some money from a fundraiser. We need an investment in this team knowing there is little hope for short-term success. Not because it won’t just go on and become whatever it becomes regardless as to whether or not we support it, but because a lot of things can’t be solved with money. Sometimes, you have to change your attitude and commit yourself to “the process”. A lot of my skill position players have no problem throwing around insults and slurs towards the linemen, but then can’t figure out why we’re having to forfeit games and are hurting for numbers because all of our linemen are either hurt or quit. We’ve decided as a program to stop using slurs and verbally abusing each other as a means of eliminating bigotry from my football team. See, much more often than not, we are struggling to deal with the results of short-term decision-making with the expectations that only come with those 10,000 hours invested and a whole lot of clarity.
It’s at this point that I’m sure you’re confused as to whether or not I’m still blathering on about my early coaching career woes or this Indianapolis Colts football team. Consider that this was the point of the exercise. How hard is it to just enjoy the early part of a rookie quarterback’s career on a young team with a new Head Coach? Very hard when you’re the QB coach, the OC and primary play-caller on offense on a team that has yet to score a point. I can say that from experience. It should be less difficult to enjoy it from the stands, the bar or the couch in your man-cave. You’re so much less involved and invested from those vantage points. Consider what this Stampede Blue staff has had to deal with for the last 6 years? Me!
Have a great week, everybody! Here’s a few links to recent podcasts Mateo and I have recorded. We’d appreciate it if you’d like and subscribe for notifications when we post a podcast every week during the NFL season and also, my wife and I do a weekly NFL Pick’em video that we will post tonight, actually! Enjoy the game!