Grigson and Pagano: For Better or For Worse?

Yet another NFL season comes to an end, and this time Colts fans find themselves in a very unfamiliar place: outside the playoffs, looking in. Nine things had to fall exactly in place for the Colts to win their division and make the playoffs. In a season where not all the things could ever go right at the same time, did we think the chips would fall any other way than the wrong way? The Colts managed to pull off a win despite counting on fourth and fifth-string quarterbacks who were called in the week before the game. So here we are … done for the year at 8 and 8.

I spent the hours before the game in the chilly shadow of Lucas Oil Stadium. While our season may have been disappointing, my partnership with the Colts and Indiana Corn and Soybean has been an absolute blast. Our mission this season has been to celebrate Indiana farmers – the first tailgaters – by encouraging Colts fans to share their best tailgates. On this cold morning, two diehard groups of Colts fans showed us their best tailgate. If you had ever told me one of my job requirements would be to eat bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers and wash them down with Fireball Jell-o shots at 9:30 in the morning I would’ve said “You’re crazy.” And also, “Exactly when can I start this amazing job?”

Did I mention what a tough job judging #coltsbesttailgate was? I may or may not have an extra stuffed pork chop I my purse.

The winners were the Sons of Tailgating, who went above and beyond with their spread and their Colts enthusiasm. I got to sign the roof of their Colts bus, so I assume this means I can pop into any and all future tailgates for another bite of their grilled stuffed pork chops, right fellas?

Congratulations to #sonsoftailgating: winner of the #coltsbesttailgate contest! I'll be dreaming about those chops for a long time!

As I pondered how I would end my weekly Colts recaps, my mind kept coming back to marriage. I’ve been a Colts fan for 18 years and married for 19 this spring, so it’s easy for me to see the connection. Some years in a marriage you win the Super Bowl: everything that could go well for you does. Some years you make the playoffs: you win some, you lose some, you have your not-so-proud moments. But overall you look back and feel good about the way you and your partner marched down the field. And then there are those seasons in both football and marriage where you don’t show up and it all goes to shit. Mike and I? I’d say we had a Super Bowl year. Life is good, we sleep through the night, and we still like kissing each other. My Colts? Not so much.

I’d already worked this marriage analogy out in my mind when we stayed up last night to watch the strangest, most surprising Colts press conference I’ve ever witnessed. All day yesterday Colts fans were on Coach Watch. It had been reported that Coach Pagano and owner Jim Irsay would meet first thing in the morning, when it was assumed that Pagano would be relieved of his duties. The word on the street was that the environment inside the Colts facility was toxic. Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson couldn’t stand each other. Grigson was meddling, and Pagano was too nice to stand up for himself. And so we waited for the inevitable.

Instead, late last night it was announced the Colts had come to an agreement with Pagano – he would stay for 4 more years. Grigson would stay as well – they’d be in this together. They wouldn’t be getting divorced after all. Now, we all just need to wait and see. Did they stay together for the sake of the kids (a.k.a the players and fans)? Or do they really have each other’s best interests at heart, and hope to work hard and pull it back together? One road leads to the post-season, the other leads to, well, nowhere. It leaves us right here where we finished, which is not good enough.

I’m cautiously optimistic. I’ve been in that place before, where you look over at the person you married and you don’t know if you can get through another day with them, let alone another year. I’ve been in that room before, the one Grigson and Pagano found themselves in together. I hope they yelled, cried, and laid it all out there like Mike and I have done. I’ve been at that press conference table before, sitting next to the guy you’ve been butting heads with for what feels like an eternity, but promising you’ll do better, try harder. And I’m here now, happily married  and knowing that it took the seasons where it all went to shit for us to get to our own Super Bowl. The “marriage is a lot like football” analogy works for me. Let’s hope the “football is a lot like marriage” analogy works for Mr. Grigson and Coach Pagano.

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Colts vs. Dolphins: When a Win Still Feels Like a Loss

Happy holidays! Was Santa good to you this year? The three gifts I received this year helped me out tremendously on game day, but more on that later. Let’s get into the game.

Angie Six

My Seat:

I was back at home for this matchup. After a week straight of running around, either prepping for the holiday or celebrating the holiday, I was done by Saturday night. Stick-a-fork-in-me-done. The kids had several requests on Sunday for entertainment: Can a friend come over? Can we go to the mall? Will you take us to see Star Wars again? Each time I was like the voice of God: NO. All I wanted Sunday was to move from bed to couch to kitchen table. We kept football on all day long and meals subsisted of pizza delivery and leftovers. It was glorious.

My Drink:

Based on the timing of this game (1 pm) and my not-so-healthy streak of having had at least one alcoholic beverage for nine days straight, Sunday was also a day of rest for my liver.

I have a deep and abiding love for Diet Coke, so much so that I refuse to buy it at the grocery store. I know myself, and I know that if I have Diet Coke in the house I will drink it every day. I already struggle to drink enough water, and I know it’s not good for me, so Diet Coke is a special occasion drink. I drink it at restaurants and will sometimes swing through a McDonald’s or the gas station to treat myself to one of those ridiculously-sized troughs of soda. My parents, however, have a fridge in their garage that is stocked with sodas. You’d think it would be one of those grandparent perks that my kids would be giddy about, but they don’t like any kind of soda. Too “spicy,” they say. Instead I’m the one that gets giddy, and beyond the obligatory can I drink while I’m there, I always bring an extra can home with me. I did that on Christmas day, stuck it in my own fridge, and promptly forgot about it. When I opened the fridge on game day, I spied that glorious, forgotten can. I wouldn’t have been happier if I’d found a twenty dollar bill in the fridge. This is why we can’t have nice things Diet Coke in the house on a regular basis.

My Post-Game Analysis:

Am I getting away from the main topic – the game – too much in these posts? That’s because I just don’t know what to say about this team anymore. I have a theory about this season, but I’m going to refrain from going into it this week because we still have one game left in the regular season. I’m not ready to give up yet – there’s still a chance we see a playoff game. But the odds are very, very slim. I do know this, though: for the love of all things holy, please don’t play Matt Hasselbeck next week. The poor man has sacrificed enough! Frankly, I don’t think Andrew Luck should risk it either, even if he’s medically cleared. If Clipboard Jesus* can’t transform into Touchdown Jesus on Sunday, then it just wasn’t meant to be this year. I’m glad we won, and I don’t begrudge the guys for celebrating what could end up being a pointless victory. But our problems are deep, and I just don’t see this team making some miraculous turn around that lands us deep in the playoffs.

So how did my Christmas gifts help me out on game day? My first gift, a Colts winter pom pom hat, came in handy when I just couldn’t watch. Just pull the cap down and the game disappears! My second gift, an adult coloring book, providing just the release I needed when the tension became too much. Finally, my new Kindle took me to another world after the game, one where I could forget about lost opportunities and convoluted playoff scenarios.

Mike Six, Angie Six and Kalyn Kahler of the MMQB

On a non-Colts related football note, I saw the Concussion movie Saturday. I assembled a small group of parents with different feelings about football and various sports backgrounds to watch it with me and the MMQB’s Kalyn Kahler. Immediately following the movie we came back to my house for a discussion about the movie and whether or not it changed our minds about our kids playing the sport. I can’t say enough about the conversation we had – it was thoughtful, conflicted and eye-opening. I understand the movie is not the truth – it’s a Hollywood film and some liberties were taken. Still, I thought it was well done. I thought I knew more than the average fan about the dangers of concussions and head trauma in football, and I walked away from the movie changed. The full story from our groups thoughts on the movie will run later this week on the MMQB. I will update this post with the link when it’s available. I highly recommend the movie to any fan of the game, but especially those fans and parents who have children who play or may one day play the sport.

Update: Here’s the link to our feature in the MMQB – The Impact of “Concussion” on Moms and Dads.

Next week is the final game of the season, when we’ll take on Tennessee Titans at home. I have the best job on the morning of game day: helping the judge the fixings of the Colts’ Best Tailgate finalists! Until then, I hope you have a safe and happy New Year.

*UPDATE: Clipboard Jesus (aka Charlie Whitehurst) was placed on Injured Reserve today. I don’t even know who next QB up is anymore. Bueller? Bueller?

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Colts vs. Texans: The 12th Man Doesn’t Use An Inside Voice

The Colts and I have something in common this week: we’d both like a do-over. The Colts would happily go back to end of the first half and do things a little differently. And me? I’d like a few words with the woman sitting in front of me who threatened my husband. We’ll get to that, but first the usual details.

Angie Six Colts Blogger

My Seat:

Mike and I returned to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch the game with my sister, Ana, and her boyfriend, Greg. We had the same seats we had for the Broncos game. In other words, our seats were pretty sweet. Well, other than the fact that no one ever scored a single touchdown on our end of the field. The last time my sister and I went to a game together was the 2006 AFC Championship game. You know, just that legendary game in the RCA Dome where we beat the Patriots on our way to a Super Bowl Championship. Let’s just say that game was a little more fun than this one.

Sun King Cans

My Drink:

There’s only one drink for me at Lucas Oil, and it’s the locally brewed Sunlight Cream Ale from Sun King Brewing. Mike made a comment about the fact that this particular beverage costs $9.25. My sister didn’t miss a beat – “Worth it,” she said. She’s absolutely right. If I could only drink one beer for the rest of my life, this would be the one.

My Post-Game Analysis:

I’m going to go in a different direction here than I’ve done in the past. For one, what can I say about this game? It was utterly disappointing. I’m scared for Matt Hasselbeck’s health, and if I was his wife I’d be hiding his keys so he can’t drive to the Colts facility anymore. This is not our year. I’m resigned to that now. Instead, I want to focus on what has to be the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me at a sporting event.

Our seats were in the second row, right where the Colts players come out and warm up. In the row in front of us sat a husband, wife and two boys, which I would guess to be around middle-school age. As the first and second quarters progressed, I noticed two things about them. One: they were pretty quiet for Colts fans. Two: the woman turned around several times during the first half and gave Mike what I would call “the stink eye.” It’s the same look my kids get when I’m trying to wordlessly communicate I’d give them what-for if we weren’t in public.

Before I go any further, let me tell you a little story about Mike and his decibel level. He’s a loud guy. I’ve been know to give him the stink eye myself, most often when we’re in a public place and he answers his phone. Hush, hush, voices carry, dude. Just last month, the kids and I had a conversation with him at the dinner table, suggesting the numbered chart they use in Eli’s school for how loud you should be talking at any given moment might be helpful. For reference:

voice level chart

He’s pretty much a four in a world of twos. And we love him for it (mostly). So back to the game. It’s the second row of an NFL game against a division rival in a matchup that has playoff implications. I’m going to say Mike was at a 4, with spurts of 5 during crucial moments. The drunk guy two rows behind us? Constant 5. The extended members of T.Y. Hilton’s family behind us to our right? Fours and fives.

At halftime, the woman turns around to Mike and says in all seriousness, “If you don’t stop screaming, I’m going to punch you in the throat.” We looked at each other like, “Is she serious? Surely she’s joking.” Mike said something to the fact that he’s just excited, it is a football game after all. Her husband joins in. “Do you have to be so loud? Could you maybe take a break during halftime? It’s ridiculous.”

We were stunned. My natural inclination is to avoid confrontation at any cost, and so I whispered in his ear, “Please don’t poke the bear.” To his credit, he let it go. He could’ve engaged her and her husband, and it could’ve gotten ugly fast. But he didn’t. Did he pipe down? Some. The fans sitting around us, however, were dumbfounded. They handled it in the best way possible: they got louder. Every down, every run, every penalty … they screamed. I wanted to hug each and every one of them.

The more I think about it, the angrier I get. I’ve been to many sporting events where you’re sitting by that guy. The one that doesn’t know when to stop. The one who uses profanity, the one who has to tell the ref he sucks for every call that goes the other way, the one who makes you cringe for every fan under the age of 12 within earshot. Mike’s never that guy. He doesn’t taunt other fans and he never swears. He just gets every penny’s worth of fun out of the exorbitant cost of his ticket to an NFL game. If he were that guy? I’d let him know, and it wouldn’t be with a stink eye. There are a lot of things I agree would be inappropriate and disrespectful for your fellow fans at an NFL game. Using your outside voice isn’t one of them. (And no, a closed roof doesn’t necessitate inside voices at Lucas Oil.) The 12th man doesn’t motivate the team by sitting quietly.

And so to the woman of Section 136, Row 1, Seat 6 sitting in front of us at Lucas Oil Stadium yesterday? We are not sorry. I’ve reviewed the NFL Fan Code of Conduct. There’s nothing in there about cheering for your team, but they have a little something to say about threatening other patrons with words and/or actions. Perhaps next time, instead of threatening violence in front of your family to a fan simply having a good time with the other 66,000 yelling, screaming, clapping fans, you watch the game from the peaceful atmosphere of your couch. Save those front row seats for the 12th man.

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