The Colts: America's Favorite Whipping Boy--UPDATED
It's a familiar refrain on sports talk radio in Indianapolis: "The national media's been dissing us all year! Finally, we're gonna show them all!"
This is boring, but true. Keyshawn Johnson called the Colts "the worst 14-0 team ever." That's a ridiculous statement on its face. The pundits picked the Ravens to beat the Colts. The pundits picked the Jets to beat the Colts. The Colts not only won, but dominated both games. Most recently, they out-rushed the best rushing team in the league and out-defensed the best defensive team. They made the best cornerback in the game look awkward.
Now the Colts are in the Super Bowl. They have answered every question and overcome every obstacle. They won 23 regular-season games in a row--when do you think that record will be broken?--and lost only because saving their starters for the Super Bowl was more important.
And anyone who hasn't watched Peyton Manning week-in and week-out just doesn't understand. You didn't see how many balls the "phenomenal" youngsters Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon dropped over the course of the year. Manning kept working with them. Peyton Manning is a clinic. Unless you are a Colts fan, he is a dream-killing machine.
Which brings us to the Super Bowl.
And the cuddly feel-good story of the year, the New Orleans Saints.
For practically the first time this season, everyone's picking the Colts. And everyone's rooting against them. The Saints are America's Team. The Colts are the big, bad football wolves.
The Colts' organization may be as good as any that's ever played the game. They produce winners over and over and over again. They make smart draft picks. They develop talent, seemingly out of nowhere. They reward success. Hell: they had Edgerrin Freaking James on the podium when they won the AFC Championship! Dude has not played with them for four years. He played against them this year.
That's class, friends.
So: the Colts have gone from wimps who couldn't possibly win...to monsters out to dash the hopes of the teddy bear Saints. Please.
Shut up, National Sports Media. You're ridiculous.
UPDATE: Thanks to Mom for bringing up the point that the Manning family has probably done more for the City of New Orleans than anyone.
Also: Here's a picture of me advising Peyton Manning on his mechanics. "You've got to lead Pierre just that much more, Peyton. Dude is faster than you think."
*Picture of Peyton from chicagonow.com.