While the rest of America is looking to remember 9/11 on its tenth anniversary, a decade from now people in Indiana may be remembering 9/8; the day their football world collapsed.
Yes, I understand that comparing a medical procedure on a football player to an act of war that changed the entire world is completely ludicrous, but if you lived in Indiana now, you saw the whole world stop just like it did on that horrible day a decade ago. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m really not. Every other newscast in America led this morning with remembrances of 9/11; every newscast in Indiana led with a 3D graphic of a human spine.
It all started on Thursday when Colts’ owner Jim Irsay said on Twitter that Peyton Manning would be out “for a while.” There was already much anguish since Manning’s streak of consecutive starts was coming to an end; that uneasiness was magnified by the uncertainty of how long Manning would be off the field.
You have to understand, Indianapolis is a small city in a small state; the Colts are a major source of statewide pride, and nobody is more important to the Colts than Peyton Manning. Ever since Irsay’s now-infamous Tweet of uncertainty, all of Colts Nation is uncomfortably staring into the unknowns of a Post-Peyton world. Adding to the anxiety is the fact the news has been ever-changing. Estimates on how much playing time Manning will miss range from 3 games to 3 months to the entire 2011 season.
In order to restore some sanity to this situation, we here at Dubsism are going to offer the clearest possible picture we can as to what this all means.
1) What Actually Happened
Peyton Manning has had his third neck surgery in less than two years on Thursday. This time, the procedure was called a “single level anterior fusion.” Dr. Rick Sasso of the Indiana Spine Group said the following of the procedure:
“The disc herniation is on the front of the nerve, so we go in through the front, take the pressure off the nerve, and then we distract that disc space where it belongs. We also open the tunnel where the nerve runs out and then we keep it in that position with a little bone graft. And you usually put a little plate across that section so people can move their neck right away and get back to doing their normal activities very quickly,” he said.
By all accounts “the surgery was un-eventful.” But the last line of the quoted story is the problem.
“That timetable (for healing) takes most of the current NFL season.”
Without Manning, the whole world knows the Colts are a 5-win team. This means a decade-long streak of playoff appearances are over. This means an era of respectability is over, and an era of mediocrity is coming.
2) The Problem From a Business Perspective
Peyton Manning, misshapen head and all, is the face of the Colts, and he’s a major revenue stream for the league as a whole. What other NFL figure has been in enough commercials to fill his own network, programs included? Let’s not forget Fetushead has been on The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, and countless other cameo appearances. Whether or not he might actually be a douchebag is immaterial; in fact he is a walking cash machine. From that perspective alone, Manning’s absence is not good for the league.
Moreover, how fast do you think the Colts will disappear from nationally televised games without Manning? The annual Sunday night Brady Vs. Manning Bowl loses it luster without it’s latter namesake; if he’s not ready by then, you can bet if the network which has the game has a “flex” option, they will check off that game faster than Manning checks off a run in the red zone.
3) And Now, From The Football Perspective…
The Colts are screwed. I don’t think I can be anymore succinct than that.
First, there’s this season which every blue-wearing Indiana horse-shoe brain can see swirling down the crapper. It’s not that they don’t have any faith in Kerry Collins or Curtis Painter (which they don’t); it’s that Peyton Manning isn’t just the quarterback, he’s the whole goddamn offense, right down to the play-calling. Without him, this team may spend the entire season offensively looking like a fraternity touch-football team well into its third keg of beer.
Now for the ugly little secret. Whatever happens with Manning, there’s the matter of the money the Colts have tied up in Captain Neckbrace. Manning was just signed to a 5 year, $90 million, $26 million of which he gets this year whether he sees the field or not. That’s a pretty big bite out of a $120 million salary cap.
What’s worse is they chased bad money with worse because they were desperate. What Colts fans may not realize is the really scary thing isn’t the money Irsay gave to Kerry Collins, it’s the length of the contract. Technically, Collins signed a two-year, $14 million contract.
This begs the question…Why would you offer a retired insurance policy a two-year deal? The only answer which makes sense is because you are gambling you won’t need two years of insurance. From a practical sense, this is really a one-year deal which nets Collins $4 million for the 2011 season, because the Colts can release him at the end of the season without any financial obligations beyond $2.5 million signing bonus and a base salary of $1.5 million.
However, the reality is the contract is a two-year deal, with a 2012 base salary of $10 million. That’s a lot of dough for a 41-year old retiree; to make sure Collins is willing to stick around for year number two, the Colts had to pony up the cash.
That’s also means the Colts know they may need that second year. It hit the Indianapolis papers this morning that the Colts can release Manning after this season free and clear of any further financial obligation. Stop and let that sink in for a moment; three weeks ago, we were talking about Manning might be ready for the season opener against Houston. Now, in a very short amount of time, we are making serious overtures about the end of an era.
There’s even some serious delusions occuring.
If the Indianapolis Colts wind up having a wretched season due to Peyton Manning’s neck injury, they may find themselves in a somewhat similar situation. Granted, it’s too early to tell how long Manning will be sidelined after having his second neck surgery in less than four months. Maybe he’ll return halfway through the season and lead the Colts to the playoffs once again. Or maybe he’ll be out all season and will return next year at full strength.
Or maybe he’ll never play again.
Either way, there’s reason to believe the Colts will suffer at the controls of Kerry Collins. The most optimistic of Indy fans think Collins will do just enough to lead an already good Colts team to the playoffs by limiting his mistakes and just getting out of the way. But for those that watched him play in preseason, it’s clear that his arm strength and accuracy have declined and he has a habit of hanging onto the ball too long when he’s in the pocket…
…It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Collins and the Colts will be so bad this year that Indy will be selecting in the top 10 come April. And if they get close enough to sniff the No. 1 overall pick, Bill Polian might want to do whatever’s necessary to land Stanford’s Andrew Luck.
Folks in the blue buckle of the Corn Belt can forget about getting the #1 overall pick; the Colts simply don’t have that kind of Luck (pun completely intended). They are going to be bad, but not #1 overall pick bad. That’s reserved for the Bengals, Bills, Redskins, or maybe even the Panthers again. Believe me, anybody who has that pick is not going to trade it unless Luck pulls an “Eli Manning” and demands such a trade.
Here is what it all boils down to…no matter what, the Manning era is Indianapolis is over; at least the productive part of it is. Manning himself without the neck issue is past his prime, and the offense he led no longer strikes fear in the hearts of NFL defensive coordinators. The time is now for the Colts to look to the future rather than dumping money into the past.
It may be that I finally have become the grumpy old man (it doesn’t help that I idolize Joe Paterno), but given some recent past events, I think we are witnessing the destruction of what was once the wonder of sports. Honestly, I’m a middle-aged guy whose formative years were in the late 70’s and early 80’s when sports still held a mystique; when a larger-than-life sporting event was such on its own merits, not because some media monolith created it. Look at the things that have changed in the past few decades; it doesn’t take long to realize all of them either have had or will have a deleterious effect so profound that they cannot help but to destroy sports as we knew it.
The Rise of NASCAR
I don’t care what anybody says, NASCAR is not a sport. A while ago, I wrote a piece that offered a hard definition as to what constituted a “true” sport. While this definition was applied to Olympic events, one can easily measure any activity against these criteria:
- It must contain at least 1 element requiring true athleticism; it must not be only the mastery of a particular skill.
- It must require the athlete to actively expend the energy to perform that athleticism.
- It must contain the element of competition with an objective scoring method used to determine a winner.
NASCAR clearly can’t pass the first two criteria, therefore it isn’t a sport. Calling it a sport when it isn’t leads to this fascination we have with treating race car drivers as athletes. They aren’t. We knew that 30 years ago. If you remember the sports show “The Battle of the Superstars,” then you remember the weak performances turned in by the old-school race car drivers like Tom Sneva. Call me crazy, but calling a guy an “athlete” who can’t even ride a bike without wheezing like an old vacuum cleaner contributes to the reason why we have so many fat kids in this country.
Worse yet is the fact there is nothing more mind-numbing than four hours of watching cars drive in a circle. The people who would tell you there is strategy in NASCAR are on the same level as those people who think Texas Hold ‘Em is a game of pure skill. Want to know all you need to know about the strategy of NASCAR? Just remember the following three points:
- Go fast.
- Turn left.
- Try not to crash.
In other words, the rise of NASCAR represents the complete devaluation of what a sport is.
Records Are Now Meaningless
The NFL and Major League Baseball are clearly out to destroy their record books. The NFL, now that it is the most popular league in America is out for world domination. Not only are they looking to export the product to distant shores (see this Sunday’s 49er-Bronco tilt at London’s Wembley Stadium), but the league would really like to have an 18-game season. This means that every single-season record of note will be gone by 2016. For example, nobody remembers an all-time great like George Blanda, and soon no one will remember Dan Marino, who was the greatest pure passer ever. Look what the 16-game schedule did for us; it made a marginally-better-than-mediocre quarterback like Brett Favre the all-time passing leader.
If you doubt that, go look at Kerry Collins’ career stats. As of this writing, Collins needs only 847 passing yards to join the elite “40,000-yard club.” This club only has 11 members, out of which there are seven Hall-of-Famers; out of the four that aren’t (Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe, and Vinny Testaverde) you know at least two of those guys are flocks to be inducted. Seriously, Kerry Collins is in this class?
As for baseball, you can thank the butt-loaf sports writers for the devaluation of its record book. Before the strike in 1994, every writer in this country was pissing and moaning about the “plodding pace” of baseball. Then all of a sudden came the barrage of home runs and the obvious steroid use, which was completely ignored by those same writers until they decided they wanted to destroy Barry Bonds. The problem was that once the let the steroid genie out of the bottle, they couldn’t get it back in. Now they are crying about the stale nature of a game full of pitcher’s duels. The real problem is that every guy who breaks a record from now on will be suspected of being a performance-enhancing drug user, and the guy who competed clean during the “steroid era” will be discounted because of the tainted time in which he played.
We’ve Ruined The Best Sporting Event We Had
March Madness, also known as the NCAA Basketball Tournament, was the greatest sporting event ever until the NCAA decided that greed trumps quality. When the tournament went to the 64-team format, it achieved a symmetry and a convergence with the television coverage that next thing you know, everybody is filling out one of those brackets and running around the office saying things like “Purdue in the Final Four? Are you on drugs?” Now that the tournament is going to be expanded to 96 teams, gone are the days of upsets and “Cinderellas” in the first round. Now with this “let everybody in” expansion, our televisions screens come March will be full of crappy games matching crappy teams with crappy outcomes. Plus, now there is absolutely no reason at all to watch regular-season college basketball.
Just Because Racism Has Gone Underground Doesn’t Mean Its Gone
There are two kinds of racism left in the sports world. Gone are the days of the “straightforward” type, where people would tell you to your face they aren’t hiring you because you are black. As a black guy, I have to say I miss those days because at least you knew where you stood. Now what’s left is even more insidious.This is the part that is going to piss people off because to explain this means calling out both sides of the American racism spectrum. America is a country where disingenuous white liberals control the debate on race because they are disproportionately represented in the media and on college campuses; the same people who preach tolerance and understanding are the same ones who fire a guy like Juan Williams for raising a legitimate point of discussion and who won’t hire Turner Gill as a football coach because he has a white wife.
Take a good look at the picture above. While you are taking that look, ask yourself a question. Golfers are second only to NBA players in terms of being devotees of extra-marital activity. In other words, finding a golfer who is cheating on his wife is like finding sand in a bunker. This is why five years from now, this will all be a distant memory and Woods will be back to his endorsements and appearance fees. The real question is why did the same writers who made such a point of wringing their hands over steroids ignore Woods’ alleged steroid use and choose to focus on the complete non-story of Woods’ infidelity? I’m sure it isn’t because the majority of our sports media is comprised of those “tolerant” types who fire a guy like Juan Williams for raising a legitimate point of discussion and who won’t hire Turner Gill as a football coach because he has a white wife.
This leads us to the second type of racism left in the world, which is the type conjured up by black people whenever they don’t want to take the heat for something they did. This, of course leads us to LeBron James…
The NBA Is Two Steps Away From Being Pro Wrestling
…who is the classic example of a guy who paints everything with a racist brush just because he didn’t get his way. Pretty soon, guys like him will be calling referees racist for blowing calls.
I would like to thank you, LeBron James, for symbolizing the beginning of the end of what once was a great era in sports. Now thanks to you, we’ve started the slide to where the ACLU will be involved in instant replay reviews in all sports and basketball becomes just so much scripted sport-a-tainment. Seriously, the WWF was the only other place where you saw guys gang up to take on the likes of The Road Warriors. Pretty soon, LeBron will be smacking Kevin Durant with a metal folding chair and Chris Bosh will be decking Pao Gasol with a roll of quarters hidden in his tights.