Winless Colts Separate the True Fans from Those on the Bandwagon
When the news came down that Peyton Manning would miss a majority of, if not the entire 2011 season after two neck surgeries, Colts fans everywhere, including me, let out a collective "Uh-oh." But I do think there were a number of us, again, myself included, that held out hope that the rest of the team would rise up and meet the challenge to prove that one man does not a team make. Then 0-7 came along.
Truth be told, every Colts fan knew this day would come whether they wanted to admit it or not. Manning can't and won't play forever. Even before the neck injury, we were looking at riding the gravy train for another 5-6 years tops. But fate, or whatever you want to call it, intervened and here we sit with a winless team and nothing to cheer about for the first time in a long time.
The Colts have made it easy on us fans for the last several years. Manning has been one of the best players in the league since he was drafted in 1998 and his ability to make decisions before and during the play is second to none. With number 18 on the field, the team has set a record for most consecutive seasons of 10 or more wins with 10 (2001 - 2010). However only one of those resulted in a Super Bowl win (2006).
With that in mind, I honestly don't know which is worse to sit through; a season where they dominate nearly every team they play only to go out in the first round of the playoffs or this season where they absolutely suck. I lean more toward the first option because with this season my expectations are zero whereas with the previous seasons, where I get my hopes up only to be punched in the gut during the first week of the playoffs. Notice one of the options isn't "quit watching because they're not good anymore". And therein lies the whole reason behind this rant.
It wasn't until they were at 0-3 or 0-4 that I started to hear the rumblings from some fans. The same fans who proudly spent countless dollars on team merchandise and planned their Sunday's, and sometimes Monday's and Thursday's around when the Colts were on TV, were now contemplating whether or not they would even bother watching the games. Case in point, I was talking with a fellow fan over the weekend, who told me he hadn't watched a game in a couple of weeks. This is a guy who has team merchandise that I didn't even know existed like a specially designed stencil that allows you to mark your golf ball with the Colts horseshoe logo.
Don't get me wrong, I am by no means enjoying what is quickly turning into one of the worst seasons in the franchise's history. I'll even admit it's been excruciatingly painful to watch at times (see Sunday's 62-7 loss in New Orleans), but at least I'm still watching. Maybe I'm loyal to a fault, but in my opinion, if I sat through all the good seasons, then I'm going to sit through all the bad one's as well. Mark my words, if Manning comes back next season, then everyone who gave up on them this year will come back and act as if they were there the whole time. And if Manning doesn't come back (God forbid), then maybe they'll jump back on the bandwagon when this guys shows up in town.
So come on Colts fans, are you in or out. I'm here for the long haul regardless of record and regardless of who's wearing what jersey. Who's with me?