National Football League
Luck's run out for Indy football
National Football League

Luck's run out for Indy football

Published Jan. 3, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

Andrew Luck might want to consult a former Stanford QB legend about how to handle the NFL draft.

Twenty-nine years ago, John Elway refused to play for Bob Irsay’s Colts, forcing a trade to the Denver Broncos. Luck, Stanford’s latest can’t-miss passer, may want to avoid playing for Jim Irsay’s Colts, the team with the top pick in the 2012 draft.

That is not written to analogize Irsay father to Irsay son in regards to football ownership. Jim Irsay, while quirky, has established a solid reputation as an NFL owner and restored a measure of respectability to a last name best known for a midnight abandonment of Baltimore.

Nope. Luck should consider avoiding Irsay and the Colts to avoid the seemingly inevitable bad fate that awaits the franchise.


Indiana’s football bubble is bursting.

I’m a Hoosier. I was born and raised in Indianapolis. I was a high school junior when the Mayflower trucks Bob Irsay rented arrived in Naptown, delivering the Colts from Baltimore. I attended the draft party when the Colts made my high school teammate Jeff George the top pick of the 1990 draft. I know the history of the state and the Indianapolis Colts.

For 15 years, I’ve watched in stunned disbelief as Peyton Manning transformed Indiana from a basketball state to a football state.

I say it’s over. I say it’s not a coincidence that the Manning era is crumbling in the same year my little hometown is hosting the Super Bowl. The whole thing is playing out like a movie script, a comedic satire. It’s Trading Places, and I’m Billy Ray Valentine with inside information on when it’s time to “sell, sell, sell.”

On Monday, Jim Irsay justifiably and appropriately fired the best football executive in league history, Bill Polian. Polian built the four-time Super Bowl-qualifier Buffalo Bills. He turned the expansion Carolina Panthers into instant contenders. He had success in the Canadian Football League. He drafted Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf. Polian acquired Tony Dungy to get the Colts over the Super Bowl hump.

Polian had to be fired. He installed his inept son as general manager and he built a roster and coaching staff that were too reliant on Peyton Manning. Polian had to go. The Colts’ lack of preparedness for Manning’s absence due to injury and Manning’s new contract were fireable offenses.

So the Colts lose a man I regard as the best in the business. It now also appears the Colts will lose the man some regard as the best quarterback to ever lace up a pair of cleats. Manning’s uninjured neck isn’t walking back in Lucas Oil Stadium. If Manning ever returns to the playing field, it’s difficult to imagine him returning to his all-world form.

In the year my hometown is host to the crown jewel in sports, the Colts lose the NFL’s top personnel man and are likely to lose the top QB. This is fate. The Colts are toast.

Jim Irsay is starting from scratch. Can he find another Bill Polian?

Again, I’m not bad-mouthing Jim Irsay. I’m saying fate is at work. Indiana’s football bubble is bursting. The Hoosier state is returning to its basketball roots.

As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, Manning’s ascension in Indiana coincided with Bob Knight’s departure from Indiana University, the Ron Artest-induced fall of the Indiana Pacers and the destruction of single-class high school basketball.

Is it a coincidence that in the same year my little hometown hosts the Super Bowl, the Indiana Hoosiers knock off the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in college basketball in a span of three weeks? Tom Crean’s Hoosiers just happen to become relevant at the same time the Colts finish 2-14.

Have I mentioned that Larry Bird has built the deepest, most versatile Pacers team since the late 1990s teams he coached deep into the playoffs and all the way to the NBA Finals? Yeah, the Pacers are relevant again. They’re 4-1 and a point-guard-upgrade from being a serious title contender.

I love football. I played college football. But I’m a Hoosier. We’re basketball people. This Peyton Manning-Bill Polian-Tony Dungy thing never really made sense in Indiana. It can’t be sustained. Manning, Polian and Dungy were great imports. We produce Oscar Robertsons and Larry Birds naturally.

Suck for Luck was a nice little campaign, but smart Hoosiers really want to see Eric Gordon come home, wear the Pacers blue and gold and rekindle memories of Reggie Miller.

Someone warn Andrew Luck that Indy’s football era is dead. It’s time for “Boom, baby!”


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