AFC South: Tony Dungy

Marlin JacksonAlbert Dickson/Sporting News/Getty Images
Score: Colts 38, Patriots 34

Date: Jan. 21, 2007. Site: RCA Dome

In a closer vote than it should have been, Indianapolis Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson's interception against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game -- a play that helped seal an 18-point comeback and a spot in the Super Bowl -- was voted as the team's most memorable play.

SportsNation

Which is the most memorable play in Colts' history?

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    40%
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    22%
  •  
    38%

Discuss (Total votes: 30,682)

I went into the voting earlier this week thinking Jackson's interception would be the clear winner.

I was wrong. So were a number of other people, too.

That play received 40 percent of the more than 30,000 votes, barely edging out quarterback Peyton Manning's then-record breaking 49th touchdown pass against the San Diego Chargers in 2004. Manning's touchdown pass received 38 percent of the votes.

The Colts' 28-point comeback against Kansas City in the playoffs last season was a distant third in the voting (22 percent).

Manning's record-setting touchdown passing obviously is huge because it's a milestone during what will end up being a Hall-of-Fame career. But Jackson's interception was substantial for the franchise.

The Colts had been eliminated by the Patriots the previous two times they faced each other in the playoffs. Indianapolis finally got New England, the AFC power squad, off its back in a fashion that didn't seem possible when the Colts walked into the locker room down 15 points at halftime.

So after four consecutive playoff appearances that ended short of a Super Bowl appearance, Manning and the Colts celebrated clinching a Super Bowl berth in front of their fans.

"[The Patriots] were a nemesis of ours for years," Jackson said. "We beat them to get over the hump. And the fashion we were able to come back after being down by 18 points and still believing because of a great simple speech by coach Tony Dungy."

The Colts went on to beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 in the Super Bowl.

An interception that helped the franchise eventually win a Super Bowl or a touchdown pass that set a single-season record?

Seems like an easy choice to make even if the voting didn't appear that way.
Marlin JacksonAlbert Dickson/Sporting News/Getty Images
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This is the second of three nominations for the most memorable plays in Indianapolis Colts history dating back to when they moved from Baltimore in 1984. The first nomination was second-year quarterback Andrew Luck leading the Colts from 28 points down in the second half to beat Kansas City in the AFC playoffs last season. The final play is Peyton Manning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley for Manning's 49th TD of the season, which broke Dan Marino's single-season TD record in 2004.

Score: Colts 38, Patriots 34
Date: Jan. 21, 2007 Site: RCA Dome.

The Colts were down 21-6 at halftime when coach Tony Dungy gave his team a speech that even had his players wondering what he was talking about.

SportsNation

Which is the most memorable play in Colts' history?

  •  
    40%
  •  
    22%
  •  
    38%

Discuss (Total votes: 30,682)

Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson, who sealed the 18-point come-from-behind victory for Indianapolis with an interception with 18 seconds left in the game, gives a breakdown of what happened on that late-January day in 2007.

“The speech Coach Dungy gave was quite simple and for us it quite shocking at the same time when he said it. He came in with his cool, calm demeanor. Most coaches wouldn’t be cool and calm at that point in the game. He said it almost jokingly. He goes, ‘You know we got them right where we want them.' He said, 'We’re going to come out after halftime we’re going to go down and score, we’re going to stop them, we’re going to score again and we’ll be right back in the game.’ We were like, ‘We got them what?’ That’s exactly what happened. I think it was his demeanor not as much as what he said, but the way he came across that there was no doubt in his mind that we were going to win the game. We fed off his interview at halftime.

"As far as the play goes, I remember leading up to that play there was a sense that they were coming out in a certain formation. It was trips to my side. Troy Brown was in the slot and a receiver to the outside. I can’t remember the tight end as the third guy. They were pretty much running the same play two to three times in a row, trying to hit the tight end down the seam. It was obvious the first two times when they were dumping the ball down to the back out of the backfield.

"On the actual play, I saw the formation was the same thing so I backed up deeper so I didn’t have to take a deep drop and actually have it be a wasted step making my break on the ball because I was anticipating he was going to go to the tight end in the seam. I knew because of my film study that [Tom] Brady always in those types of situations would throw blindly in the opposite direction and that’s exactly what he did. Snapped the ball, looked opposite of me so I knew once he turned back my way I had already broke on the tight end, which allowed me to get a great jump to make the play and get the interception.

"For me it was a moment of disbelief, like did that really just happen? Did I really just make that play? We were now going to the Super Bowl. It was even sweeter because it was a victory over the New England Patriots. That made it even more special because of the history of the organization leading up to that game. They were a nemesis of ours for years. We beat them to get over the hump. And the fashion we were able to come back after being down by 18 points and still believing because of a great simple speech by coach Tony Dungy.”
 
INDIANAPOLIS -- Jim Caldwell's NFL résumé has success written all over it, from the very top all the way down to very end.

He was assistant coach and quarterback coach with the Indianapolis from 2002-08, winning a Super Bowl with them in 2006. Caldwell took over for Tony Dungy and led the Indianapolis Colts to a 14-0 start and another Super Bowl appearance in his first season in 2009.

Caldwell
Caldwell
Caldwell was fired after a 2-14 season -- and the end of Peyton Manning’s career in Indianapolis -- but rebounded nicely by being the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator when they won the Super Bowl in 2012.

But Caldwell admits he wasn’t sure he would end up being a head coach in the NFL again.

Those thoughts ended when the Detroit Lions (7-9 last season) named him their head coach last month.

So Manning, Joe Flacco, and now Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.

That’s not a bad group of players to coach for Caldwell.

“Fact of the matter is, very rare do you get a second opportunity,” Caldwell said. “Not only a second, but this is actually the third (time) for me if you include my stint in college as well. I was hoping, but I was also very, very satisfied working extremely hard at what I was doing in terms of coaching the position or being an offensive coordinator, whatever helped a team win. I’m not able to forecast the future. But I certainly indeed hoped that I did get another opportunity. I’m glad it happened.”

Caldwell, who was rather reserved as head coach of the Colts, noted how he’s grown as a coach from what he learned with the Colts and during his two seasons with the Ravens.

“One of things about our business is the fact that if you don’t feel like you’ve grown or developed each and every day, you’re in the wrong business," he said. "I learned something different each and every day. I had a great 10 years (in Indianapolis). We obviously had a lot of success and certainly learned a lot about what to do in terms of offensive football, learning how to develop was important in terms of how we went about doing things, but also winning consistently has a certain sound to it.”

Robert Mathis finishes 2nd in DPOY

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What could have been an incredible day for the Indianapolis Colts didn't end the way they hoped.

Mathis
Shortly after receiver Marvin Harrison and coach Tony Dungy found out they will not be heading to the Hall of Fame this year, linebacker Robert Mathis learned he wasn’t this season’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Mathis finished second behind Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly for the award.

Kuechly led the NFC in tackles with 156, including 24 against New Orleans in Week 16.

Mathis didn’t win Defensive Player of the Year, but he still had a successful season.

He also proved the naysayers wrong who doubted that he could dominate without Dwight Freeney on the other side.

The best part about Mathis playing with the chip on his shoulder?

He had no problem saying the doubters motivated him.

Mathis led the league in sacks with 19.5 and forced fumbles with eight. He had 46.4 percent of the Colts’ sacks this season, because they only had 42 as a team. The eight forced fumbles led to 35 Colts points.
Both have strong résumés.

Tony Dungy led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs in 11 of his 13 seasons coaching the teams. The Colts won Super Bowl XLI under Dungy.

Receiver Marvin Harrison is in the top seven in receiving yards, receptions and receiving touchdowns.

None of those accolades mattered Saturday because Harrison and Dungy will have to wait at least another year. The two were not named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014.

Harrison, who was in his first year of eligibility, made the cut from 15 modern-era finalists to 10, but did not make the cut to the five players to be voted on for the class. Dungy didn’t make the cut from 15 to 10 in the selection meeting.

Reed’s selection over Harrison is confusing. Reed is headed to the Hall of Fame after being an eight-time finalist.

The numbers prove that Harrison was a better receiver. There's no other way to look at it.

Harrison had at least 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns in eight straight seasons. Reed had at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in a season only once in his career. He topped 1,000 receiving yards in a season only four times in his 16-year career.

Harrison was an eight-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro selection. Reed played in seven Pro Bowls.

Harrison's and Dungy's time will come.

Just not now.
Tony DungyMatthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCoach Tony Dungy and wide receiver Marvin Harrison combined for some very memorable Indianapolis Colts teams.

INDIANAPOLIS – The joke about Marvin Harrison during his 13-year career with the Indianapolis Colts is that he would be in plain sight but he was still hidden because he was so quiet. You didn’t know he was around unless he was embarrassing defenses while catching passes from quarterback Peyton Manning.

Harrison didn't worry about the extra thing. His focus was getting better on a daily basis and helping the Colts win games.

“He was very quiet away from the field,” former Colts general manager Bill Polian said. “Marvin wasn’t one of those guys that thrived to be the center of attention. When it was time to play -- practice time or games -- it didn’t matter, he was business 100 percent of time. He is one of the all-time best.”

Harrison, and former Colts coach Tony Dungy, could be thrust to the forefront Saturday if things go as planned for them.

The Colts receiver and coach are two of the 15 Hall-of-Fame finalist. A finalist must receive 80 percent of the votes.

The statistics scream first-ballot Hall of Famer for Harrison. He’s third in NFL history in receptions, fifth in touchdown receptions and seventh in receiving years to go with eight straight 1,000-yard seasons.

“Marvin Harrison had a tremendous impact on my career,” Manning said. “My very first football game in the preseason, on the third play of the game, I threw my first pass. I threw him about a 4-yard pass, and he ran 48 yards for a touchdown. I said, ‘Boy, this NFL is pretty easy. All you do is throw it to Marvin Harrison and he runs for touchdowns.’ That’s pretty much what he did throughout the time we played together. He is just an outstanding football player. A great teammate, and he truly helped me out a lot.”

Harrison was a perfectionist of his craft. His footwork had to be precise, he tried to catch anything thrown in his direction. He wanted the team’s best defensive backs defending him in practice, not a practice squad player who could be released at any moment.

“That was Marvin for you,” Polian said. “His unique ability at his size to get open and continue to play for as long as he played is witness to his phenominal athletic ability, great hands and work habit. He’s extremely, extremely gifted athlete. Far more than people realize because he’s made it look so easy. He was a clutch performer.”

Harrison’s career, which included going to the playoffs 10 times and winning a Super Bowl, ended in February 2009 when the Colts terminated the final three years of his contract because he didn’t want to take a pay cut.

"It was time," Harrison said told the Indianapolis Star in a recent interview. "I had the perfect owner (Jim Irsay), the perfect team, one team my whole career, Dungy leaving, I played my one year in the new stadium (Lucas Oil).''

Dungy wasn’t far behind Harrison in leaving the Colts. He stepped down as coach almost two months later.

Dungy, who coached in Tampa Bay and Indianapolis, is in the top seven in wins amongst coaches with at least 100 victories. The Colts won at least 10 games in all seven seasons under Dungy. They won five division titles during that same time span, and Dungy is the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl.

“Everybody who makes the finals deserves to be in, but Tony is in a class by himself,” Polian said. “His record speaks for itself. He has replaced Wellington Mara as the public conscience of the NFL. “

Manning added, “Coach Dungy’s influence on me and our entire team was very strong…I’m indebted to him for his help for me in my career, and of course, our teams there in Indianapolis. I was very honored to play for him for a number of years.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy and receiver Marvin Harrison are a step away from being elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Dungy and Harrison are two of the 15 finalists for this year's Hall of Fame class.

The 46-person Hall of Fame panel will vote for the 2014 class on Feb. 1.

Dungy, the winningest coach in Colts history, won five division titles, reached the AFC Championship Game twice and won a Super Bowl while coaching the team from 2002-08.

Harrison was second in league history in receptions when he retired in 2008. He had eight straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He ended his career with 1,102 receptions for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns.

The Colts have 12 individuals in the Hall of Fame.

Here's a list of the 13 of other finalists for the Hall of Fame: Kicker Morten Andersen, running back Jerome Bettis, linebacker Derrick Brooks, receiver Tim Brown, owner Edward DeBartolo, Jr., linebacker Kevin Greene, punter Ray Guy, defensive end Charles Haley, defensive end Claude Humphrey, offensive tackle Walter Jones, safety John Lynch, receiver Andre Reed, guard Will Shields, defensive end Michael Strahan and cornerback Aeneas Williams.

Rapid Reaction: Indianapolis Colts

December, 15, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 25-3 victory over the Houston Texans:

What it means: The Colts didn't wait until the second half to get going offensively. They started on their first offensive series of the game. The Colts mixed up the run with the pass to go 80 yards on 11 plays on their opening drive. The drive ended with quarterback Andrew Luck finding receiver Griff Whalen for a 14-yard touchdown. That was the first time the Colts scored a touchdown in the first quarter since doing it against Denver on Oct. 20. Slow starts have been a problem the past seven weeks for the Colts, but they went into the half with a 20-3 lead. They were 5-of-8 on third down in the first half after going 0-for-6 in the first half against Cincinnati on Dec. 8. The one downside about the Colts on offense is that they started the game 5-for-5 on third down but failed to convert on their final 10 attempts.

Whalen steps up: Whalen has been an afterthought this season after having a strong training camp. He was elevated from the practice squad Saturday because of the injury to fellow receiver LaVon Brazill (foot). He took advantage of the opportunity. Whalen, a college teammate of Luck's at Stanford, caught four passes for 45 yards, returned three punts for 67 yards and a kickoff for 22 yards.

Being honored: Former Colts running backs Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk were inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime. Dickerson rushed for 5,194 yards and 32 touchdowns during his five seasons with the Colts. He won the league's rushing title in 1988, when he gained 1,659 yards to go with 14 touchdowns. The Colts traded Dickerson to the Los Angeles Raiders following the 1991 season. Faulk rushed for 5,320 yards and 42 touchdowns to go with 297 receptions and 2,804 yards in his five seasons with the Colts. He was traded to the St. Louis Rams after the 1998 season because he thought he deserved a raise. Dickerson and Faulk join Robert Irsay, Bill Brooks, Chris Hinton, Ted Marchibroda, Jim Harbaugh, the 12th Man, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James in the team's Ring of Honor.

Injuries: Colts guard Joe Reitz left the game in first half after being tested for a concussion. Starting running back Donald Brown sat out the second half with a stinger. He ran for 38 yards on five carries. Linebacker Daniel Adongo (hamstring) and safety Sergio Brown (groin) also left the game.

What's next: The Colts go on the road to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Colts and Chiefs have a chance to face each other in the playoffs in Indianapolis.

On quiet Titans speaking up

November, 14, 2013
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For all the fair criticisms of Mike Munchak, one unfair one gets too much attention in Music City.

Some critics point at his sideline demeanor and wish he’d be more demonstrative.

I think they aren’t watching him closely enough -- he gets plenty heated at times when it’s called for. Focus on him next time a call seems to go against the Titans. I also think it’s a mistake to think a coach has to rant and throw fits to be effective. Tony Dungy and Tom Landry did just fine as mild-mannered coaches.

When he was still coaching the Colts, I once chatted with Dungy about whether there was periodically a time, behind closed doors, when he felt screaming or throwing something might get his team’s attention in a different way that might have a big effect.

[+] EnlargeJason McCourty
AP Photo/Tom GannamThe usually reserved Jason McCourty spoke up to teammates about staying on the correct path after the Titans' loss to the previously winless Jaguars.
He said, quite reasonably, no.

As a player under Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh, he didn’t want to be yelled at or see a show. He wanted to be told and shown why something was wrong and how to fix it. That’s how Noll operated, and that’s how Dungy followed suit. They both had great success.

This week, after many Titans talked about how the team was lifeless during the bad loss to previously winless Jacksonville, I turned away from Munchak’s demeanor to consider his calm and collected players.

A roster generally has a heavy share of guys who have a personality similar to that of the head coach. The Titans have a lot of quiet, low-key guys like Munchak. Primary among them: Cornerback Jason McCourty; safeties Michael Griffin and George Wilson; running back Chris Johnson; and offensive linemen Michael Roos, Andy Levitre and David Stewart. (Injured quarterback Jake Locker has that demeanor too.)

When the Titans closed the locker room doors Sunday after the loss to the Jaguars, several players spoke up about what unfolded. One of them, who shed his mellow deportment and let loose about the chances the Titans are blowing, was McCourty.

He spoke loudly about continuing to come together and staying on the correct path, about how the Titans are, unlike some recent versions, a talented team. He wanted to make sure guys understood there are still opportunities ahead.

“I just look at it as a personal thing,” McCourty said. “For me, at that moment, frustration had built up and I felt like there was something on my heart that needed to be said and I said it. I don’t feel like everybody needs to do so. Some guys are very vocal leaders. Bernard Pollard is good at that, motivating himself and others around him. Other guys, maybe a quiet guy, just goes and talks to people individually to get them motivated …”

“That was probably the pinnacle of my frustration through my career. There have been different times when I’ve spoken up and said things I’ve felt needed to be said. It was pretty anted up, pretty decent.”

I imagine a composed pro like McCourty speaking up in such a fashion caught the attention of his teammates. To what effect remains to be seen.

Wilson said there could be value in a quiet guy raising the volume.

“The only way you really know if there is real value is when you see how guys receive it,” he said. “They can respond to it or not respond to it. They can listen to you or let it go in one ear and out there other. You decide to do it because you reach a point where something needs to be said. When guys want to vent and get things out on the open, you say things out of love and out of compassion, not to demean or call anybody out. Just to be accountable to each other.”

Chris Johnson has rarely if ever, shown himself to be mad.

Former Titans tight end Frank Wycheck, a Titans Radio color analyst and my sports talk radio colleague, says he’d like to see Johnson come off the field angry when he fumbles away the ball on the first play of the Jaguars’ game.

I can’t recall seeing the easygoing, soft-spoken Johnson heated. I’m not suggesting him getting visibly angry would change anything, and I wouldn’t encourage a guy to put on an air that doesn’t fit.

But I wondered: Is there ever a time he feels like moving away from his typical demeanor in a visible way that could get his teammates’ attention and benefit the Titans?

“Not really,” he said. “Because we have players-only meetings around here and everybody talks and everybody has the floor or whatever. It’s nothing that I need to show out in the media or out where all the fans can see just to get my point across. We have those times where we get to talk and we get to voice our own opinion.

“I say what I have to say, but I’m not throwing a temper tantrum or anything like that.”
INDIANAPOLIS – Hazing inside locker rooms or baseball clubhouses isn’t anything new. It's been around quite some time. Rookies often have to sing in front of their teammates during training, carry helmets and shoulder pads throughout the season or bring doughnuts in the morning.

But that’s the extent of things inside the Indianapolis Colts’ locker room. And it’s not because of the accusations of what’s being reported in Miami with guard Richie Incognito and teammate Jonathan Martin.

This goes back to when Tony Dungy started coaching the team in 2002.

“When he was here, he was all about there would be none of the rookie hazing type stuff and it’s continued that way,” veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri said. “We’ve got a group of older veteran guys that don’t believe in dumb stuff and that’s the way it is.”

Having fun and cracking jokes in the locker room is expected amongst teammates. Players often joke about the type of music some of their teammates listen to or their clothing choices. But it’s all in fun. Something you would do with your close friends. The Colts are around each other on almost a daily basis from the end of July until the season ends in January or February. You can even argue that they spend more time with each other than with their own families.

But it doesn’t go overboard -- the way it’s reportedly happened in Miami -- with the Colts.

“Guys in this locker room understand what hazing is,” said cornerback Vontae Davis, who spent his first three seasons with the Dolphins. “When you can’t distinguish taking advantage of somebody from just cracking jokes, you’re not being reliable as a veteran. We know how to distinguish if we’re taking advantage of somebody or not. We hold each other accountable. We’re a big family.”

Davis declined to comment about what’s going on in Miami. Quarterback Andrew Luck, receiver Griff Whalen and tight end Coby Fleener were teammates with Martin at Stanford.

Fleener said he’s exchanged text messages with Martin but declined to go into specifics on what they talked about. He did, however, stick up for his former teammate when a reporter said Martin has a reputation for not being tough.

“I think that’s a stupid, stupid statement,” Fleener said. “If somebody wants to dispute that, I’d be happy to talk to them. It’s neither here nor there. It’s not really something that we’re focused on.”

Dungy was on The Dan Patrick Show earlier this week and said they had warning flags about Icognito coming out of Nebraska in 2005. The Colts had him on the “DNDC” list, which means do not draft because of character issues.

The Colts have a brotherhood in the locker room. There’s mutual respect from the veterans down to the rookies to the training and equipment staff. Veterans like Robert Mathis, Cory Redding and Antoine Bethea make sure they stay together and keep their focus on winning.

“If you see something that’s not right, you take care of it,” Vinatieri said. “That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t have to be an old guy to a rookie or a rookie to rookie. There’s no disrespect allowed around here from coaches to players, from players to coaches, to other staff, to the cleaning crew. If anybody gets that way, it gets shot down pretty quickly.”

Manning's answer to come Sunday

October, 16, 2013
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos like signs. Big ones, small ones, lighted ones, whatever. They have them hanging all over their workplace in south suburban Denver.

And it while it presents an odd sort of contradiction given the people who are supposed to be reading the signs routinely say they don’t need “additional things’’ to fire them up, the signs are there. Most with the big type, bold letters.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Joey Foley/Getty ImagesNeither Peyton Manning nor Jim Irsay looked happy when they parted in 2012.
One of them in one of the building’s high-traffic areas offers one of Broncos coach John Fox’s favorite missives: "WELL DONE IS BETTER THAN WELL SAID."

It comes to mind because folks wanted quarterback Peyton Manning to say something Wednesday. To offer something about what Colts owner Jim Irsay said, something about Irsay's explanation of how frustrated and disappointed he was the team won only one Super Bowl in Manning’s tenure in Indianapolis. That they had "changed" the team's program with Manning's release.

Boom goes the social-media dynamite. Irsay, who spent most of Wednesday on Twitter trying to explain what he meant, held a media gathering in Indianapolis. He said his comments in an interview with veteran USA Today reporter Jarrett Bell were taken out of context. It is just one man’s opinion, but I’ve known Bell a long time and I’m certain what appeared in the story is what was said, exactly in the context it was said.

To be fair, Irsay has said similar things in the weeks and months since the team released Manning in March 2012. But in what is easily a gold medal performance in the timing-is-everything Olympics, Irsay said it this time as Manning and the Broncos approached on his team’s schedule.

Manning’s former coach Tony Dungy -- the guy folks often go to when they want to know what Manning’s thinking when Manning won’t say -- offered a theory to ESPN's Ed Werder. He said Irsay was simply trying to ratchet up the pressure on Manning to "have him make it such a big game he doesn’t perform well. I can’t figure any other reason to go this way." Dungy went on to say the Colts "would be playing in L.A." right now without Manning.

Clearly, and by almost any objective measure, without Manning the Colts wouldn’t have the new stadium that likely provides a comfortable living for Irsay and other Colts executives. Without it, the city would not have hosted a Super Bowl and hosted it well. There is also a certain speed-of-light swirl to this, in that it is all tailor-made for social media, talk radio, television, websites or any other platform where content comes fast and furious. Maybe it all got away from the often-flippant Irsay before he remembered Twitter is fast and forever.

Which brings it all back around to the guy at the center of this -- one Peyton Williams Manning. And when Manning was asked Wednesday to comment about his former boss, he essentially did what he often does when the coin flip falls a certain way, he deferred.

"I don’t have any answer for you on that, or any comment on any of that," he said.

Which means Manning passed on the chance at "well said" and that leaves only "well done."

On Sunday.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Who needs Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos?

The sideshow that’s taking place right now may end up being better than the game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Never mind. Let me stop right there. Peyton Manning facing his former team in the city where he spent the first 14 years of his NFL career. You can't beat that. But what’s going on with Colts owner Jim Irsay and others is keeping you occupied until Sunday night.

Here’s a quick recap:

Broncos coach John Fox accused Irsay of taking a “cheap shot” at Manning in a story published by USA Today earlier this week.

Irsay told USA Today that the Colts have changed their model “a little bit” with Andrew Luck as quarterback because Irsay wants “more than one of these [rings]."

“[Tom] Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these [rings]," Irsay told the newspaper. "Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated.

"You make the playoffs 11 times, and you're out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the 'Star Wars' numbers from Peyton and Marvin [Harrison] and Reggie [Wayne]. Mostly, you love this [ring]."

Fox defended his quarterback on SiriusXM on Tuesday:

“To me, in my opinion, they were disappointing and inappropriate,” Fox said. “I mean, Peyton would never say anything. He’s too classy to do that. But they sounded a little ungrateful and unappreciative to me for a guy that has set a standard, won a Super Bowl, won division titles, won four MVP awards. I’d be thankful with that one Super Bowl ring because there’s a lot of people that don’t have one.”

Fox’s comments caused Irsay to respond to criticism he’s received on Twitter overnight:
.
We're almost finished -- for now.

Former Colts general manager Bill Polian got into the mix when he responded to Irsay’s comments on SiriusXM on Wednesday morning.

"Truthfully, I don't know," he said. "I think [Irsay’s] got some misstatements of fact in there. For one thing, I don't believe that Baltimore had two at the time that we were fired, all of us, Peyton, me and the rest of the staff, [coach] Jim Caldwell at the end of the '11 season. ...

"I really don't know what to make of it to tell you the truth. I do know that he was very upset after the loss in the second Super Bowl and I think it's pretty telling that getting to the Super Bowl in his mind doesn't count. And for anyone who is in the game and who has to make that journey from training camp to the Super Bowl, you know that it's awfully difficult to get there.

"And as John Fox said today, if you have one, you count yourself lucky. I've had teams that have been to six Super Bowls and won one. I'm not ashamed of that record by any means, and I'm certainly not ashamed of what we did in Indianapolis."

It seems like Irsay’s comments were directed more at Polian and how he built the team than they were at Manning.

And just think, there’s still a few more days until the game. Who knows what will be said next.

Reggie Wayne about to join elite company

October, 14, 2013
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WayneIcon SMIJust four catches shy, Colts wideout Reggie Wayne is on the brink of 1,000 career receptions.
SAN DIEGO -- It’s a good thing Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne is having a Hall of Fame NFL career because he probably would have never made it as a home interior designer.

Go back 12 years, and Wayne, like a lot athletes, had a trophy case and hung footballs on the wall for those special moments in his career. That was a good thought and all, but the touchdown-grabbing Wayne soon looked around and noticed he was running out of space.

“I guess I didn’t think that through,” Wayne said, laughing. “I should have known I was going to catch more than eight touchdowns. My wife looked up and she was like, 'You’re just going to have a wall of footballs.' I had to stop that. Now they’re in a big pile. Every once in a while I go through them and look at them and try to remember that catch. I’ve never been good at that.”

Wayne will have to find some space for the ball he catches for his fourth reception in Monday’s game against the San Diego Chargers.

He's four catches shy of becoming the ninth player in league history with at least 1,000 career receptions. Former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison is third on the list with 1,102 catches.

“When I first got in, I just wanted to feel like I was part of the family,” Wayne said. “You don’t look down 13 years later and expect yourself to still be playing. A thousand catches, that’s not something I ever dreamed of. It’s kind of a weird feeling. It feels kind of weird to talk about it. But I’m happy. I guess that just shows that I’ve been playing for a long time.”

Wayne has caught passes from six quarterbacks and one running back (Joseph Addai) in his career. Peyton Manning leads the way, completing 779 passes and 67 touchdowns to Wayne.

Wayne still remembers his first touchdown catch -- a 43-yarder that bounced out of the hands of Houston Texans cornerback Marcus Coleman; he tried to put a hole in the ground by spiking the ball so hard -- on Sept. 22, 2002.

There’s also Wayne’s 53-yard touchdown catch in the rain of Super Bowl XLI, the favorite of Manning and former coach Tony Dungy, according to Colts.com.

You also can’t forget about Wayne’s game-winning touchdown catch against the Green Bay Packers last season to go with the countless one-handed grabs he's had.

The list goes on and on. Nine hundred and ninety-six long to be precise.

"He came in from day one you could see the talent was there, but his work ethic, his passion for the game, the way he studied and the time that he put in, things that he sacrificed, it was real evident early on," said Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who was on the University of Miami staff when Wayne played there. "Certainly you can’t predict the type of numbers and years because of health issues and all those things, but we knew early on that he was going to be a great player.”

Wayne’s frame of mind of just wanting to be “part of the family” with the Colts is still here today. After 996 receptions, 13,428 yards and 80 touchdowns, Wayne still believes he has to prove himself.

He enters training camp every season wanting to convince the coaching staff that he’s still an asset to the team, not a liability that can be replaced by a younger, cheaper player at his position.

“One thing about it, especially when you get in the latter part of your years, let’s be honest, they’re trying to replace you,” the 34-year-old Wayne said. “I want them to say, ‘It’s not time yet, we can’t replace him yet. He’s bringing this much to the table.’ That’s the kind of attitude I bring to it.

“The thing about this game, I think guys who have played for a long time, I think boredom [sets in] because they keep doing the same thing over and over. I go into it like I’m a rookie. I do everything like I’m a rookie and then go from there.”

Wayne even tells his coaches to treat him like he’s a rookie. That means telling him when he does something wrong.

Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton doesn’t call out his receivers when they drop a ball during a game. He tells them they’ll be going back to them at some point in the game. It’s a different story when they’re behind closed doors during the film session.

“He understands it’s never personal,” Hamilton said about Wayne. “It’s just constructive criticism. I don’t think there’s a lot you need to say to a guy like Reggie Wayne as far as what he needs to do to catch the football. He works as hard as anybody in this building on a football team at mastering his skill set, mastering his craft. His numbers kind of speak for themselves, speaks for itself as far as his production over the years.”

And that's why Wayne is about to join the 1,000-catch club.

Colts will honor Faulk and Dickerson

October, 9, 2013
10/09/13
8:00
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INDIANAPOLIS – Lost in the news of running back Ahmad Bradshaw deciding to have season-ending knee surgery Tuesday was that the Indianapolis Colts plan to add former running backs Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson to the Ring of Honor together during the Dec. 15 game against Houston.

They will be the 10th and 11th members of the Ring of Honor, joining Robert Irsay, Bill Brooks, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Tony Dungy, Jim Harbaugh, Chris Hinton and Ted Marchibroda and the 12th Man.

Faulk, the No. 2 overall pick in the 1994 draft, rushed for 5,320 yards during his five-year career with the Colts. Dickerson rushed for 5,194 yards during his time with Indianapolis.

The city of Indianapolis also received some good news Tuesday, as it joins Minneapolis and New Orleans as finalists for the 2018 Super Bowl. Indianapolis hosted a successful Super Bowl in 2012.
Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star writes about how the Colts have made the transition from Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell’s 4-3 defense to Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 defense.

Quarterback Andrew Luck has agreed to a be Indianapolis-based audio technology company Klipsch's new national spokesman, according to the Associated Press. Colts defensive lineman Robert Mathis and Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert also endorse Klipsch.

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