The War of 1812: One Year Later and Scars Remain

October 20, 2013 (Photo: IndyStar/Matt Kryger)

October 20, 2013
(Photo: IndyStar/Matt Kryger)

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”

- Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

What a difference a year makes.

I saw the first promo for the week one Colts vs. Broncos Sunday Night Football game. And you know what? I’m fine. Really…I am.

Last year? Let’s just say it didn’t go so well. Blame it on the soundtrack (I’m Coming Home), the slow motion video, the fresh wounds from the Colts’ breakup with Peyton Manning, and his first trip back to Lucas Oil Stadium…but the first time I saw last year’s promo, I sobbed. I know. I did though.

It also prompted me to write (on the spot) what is still the most read story I have ever written on either of my blogs (over 10,000 views and counting). That emotion was so real. And so gut wrenching. And based on the feedback I received, I wasn’t alone.

But it’s true, what people say…time really does heal. Even if it leaves you with a scar.

Anything you care deeply about has the ability to hurt you. Being a sports fan is hard. It hurts. And sometimes, it can damn near break your heart. But it can also be incredibly inspiring. Which keeps us coming back for more, no matter how badly we’ve been hurt in the past.

I was lucky enough to have a quarterback who was everything any fan could ever want. I always knew how special he was and I never took him for granted. I was proud to call him mine. I loved him so much, I couldn’t keep him to myself. I was happy to share him with the world. I actually made other people fall in love with him. And I took great joy in that.

When it was over, I was numb. I didn’t think I could ever feel that way again, at least about another quarterback.

Yet somehow, in a twice in a lifetime chance…I do.

I still thank my lucky stars that I had Peyton Manning as my quarterback. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. And somehow, before he left, he set me up with the next quarterback love of my life: Andrew Luck.

Now, for a brief moment in time, I get to see my beloved quarterback, Andrew Luck (and the Colts) play my beloved former quarterback, Peyton Manning (and the Broncos). I don’t know how long it will last. I just know that it won’t be forever. And I plan to enjoy every minute of it.

So, no more tears.

I wear my scars like a badge of honor.

Because they’ve made me the fan I am today.

What a difference a year makes.

Go Colts!

Colts Preseason Game 4: My Keepers

Three of my keepers: S Colt Anderson, Marcus Burley, and OLB Jonathan Newsome make a tackle. (Photo: Colts)

Three of my keepers: S Colt Anderson, CB Marcus Burley, and OLB Jonathan Newsome make a tackle.
(Photo: Colts)

Alright, the Colts’ fourth and last preseason game against the Bengals was not exactly interesting. Or watchable. But, some of us forced ourselves to watch it anyway. Mostly, so we can speculate who will make the team.

The good news is…the preseason is over. The bad news is…the Colts have to go from 75 players to 53 (plus 10 practice squad players) by Saturday at 4:00 PM.

And it’s a good thing that Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson is in really good shape. Because there’s a pretty good chance he may have to suit up on the offensive line at some point this season. Or, he could bring in a player or two once roster cuts are made. Which is the more likely scenario.

I’ve been watching these players since training camp and I have my own list of keepers for Mr. Grigson. I assume the healthy players who were not on the field on Thursday night have made the team (including WR Griff Whalen).

As for the rest, here are the players I absolutely have to have on the Colts roster:

RB Daniel “Boom” Herron BOOM!

WR Donte Moncrief No brainer.

G Jack Mewhort Colts top draft pick. Enough said.

OLB Jonathan Newsome (And not just because his mom followed me on twitter.) The former Ball State Cardinal has said from the day he was drafted that he wants to be the next Robert Mathis. And watching him play, I’m starting to see glimpses of a young Robert Mathis.

CB Loucheiz Purifoy He’s special. And he’s been special on special teams.

RB Zurlon Tipton At times, this guy has run better than anyone on the roster. Without the benefit of the starting roster.

C Jonotthan Harrison Aside from the fact that the Colts are needy at the position, this guy is smart. He is extremely well spoken. And he gets football. I understand why the Colts were high on him. I am too.

S Colt Anderson His name is Colt. What more do you need, for God’s sake? And he’s also consistently made plays. Which is enough for me.

CB Marcus Burley Again, he’s consistently made plays. At a position the Colts are consistently light on come midseason.

TE Jack Doyle Hometown kid. Who has made a pretty good preseason for himself.

TE Weslye Saunders Yep. Want him too.

NT Zach Kerr Take out Thursday night and he’s been pretty darn impressive.

OLB Andy Studebaker Has been a total stud in preseason.

Practice squad:

TE Erik Swoope I just have to see what he can do. He’s mature, talented, disciplined, and driven. And I want to see where that will take him with a little more time.

WR Da’Rick Rogers Be happy I put you here. You could have taken the fire extinguisher off the wall at Paul Brown Stadium and blown it in the end zone. That would have made this decision much easier. Don’t be stupid! Unless you want to be stupid somewhere else.

These are the players I feel strongly about. The guys I feel best represent the Colts both on and off the field. Horseshoe guys, if you will.

Truth be told, all the men on the current roster have put their hearts and souls into the last several months. They’ve sacrificed many things to focus on their dream. For some, it’s about to come true. For others, it’s about to come to an end (at least with the Colts).

But I wish them all success and will continue to cheer for them…no matter what color they wear.

Colts fans have a saying, “Once a Colt, always a Colt.” And we mean it.

Go Colts!

Colts Preseason Game 3: The One Where Reggie Comes Back

Welcome back, Reggie Wayne!

Welcome back, Reggie Wayne! (Photo: Indy Star/Mike Fender)

This was supposed to be the big third Colts preseason game. The one where they game plan a little. The one where the starters play through the first half. The one where we get a glimpse at what this team is made of.

We did learn something watching the Colts play the Saints during Saturday night’s third preseason game. Mostly, that we liked the first two better.

Some good things did happen though. So, let’s start there.

Saturday night saw the long-awaited return of Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who hadn’t taken the field at Lucas Oil Stadium since tearing his ACL during the Broncos game on October 20, 2013.

Wayne came out of the tunnel during the pregame introductions to a hero’s welcome from the hometown crowd. I got goosebumps. And a little teary (shhh…don’t tell anyone). Welcome back, Reg! We’ve missed you around here. And apparently, the feeling is mutual.

“I guess they can always remind you where you stand in their hearts. I’ve always loved Indy. They’ve always showed me nothing but respect, treated me like this was home for me and I just want to do everything I possibly can to show that respect back to them.”  -Reggie Wayne

Wayne also had his first two receptions since 2013, neither of which counted due to penalties (one on the Colts and one on the Saints). But still…Reggie’s back!

Coby Fleener gets an A+. Not only for his touchdown, but also for mocking Saints tight end (who doesn’t want to be called a tight end) Jimmy Graham. Last week, Graham’s famous goalpost dunk cost him $30,000 in fines from the NFL. Next time Jimmy Graham wants to dunk something, I’ll set him up at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He can pay me $30,000. Everyone will be happy. Especially me.

Once again, the Colts struggled during the preseason. But try to keep in mind, it is still the preseason.

The running lanes were more clogged than the streets of downtown Indy during a Colts game and Gen Con. The timing wasn’t great between Andrew Luck and the receivers. The pass rush was virtually nonexistent (with the starters anyway). And the pass protection…well, let’s just put it this way: I wanted Luck out before halftime. Long before halftime.

The Saints have a great defense. And I know the Colts wanted to test their offense against it.

But…when I see Andrew Luck getting harassed and assaulted in the pocket, horsecollared to the ground, at the bottom of a pile of defenders, and ultimately, with a 300-pound man strapped to his back…I just want to march down to the field, pull him out, and give a few disapproving looks in the process.

The Saints defense is tough. But really, do they have to be so…mean?!

My ultimate goal for the Colts third preseason game was for them to push themselves, test themselves, and come out healthy. Which, they did (sort of). Both Darius Butler and Greg Toler left the game early. I saw Butler in a walking boot on the sideline towards the end of the third quarter and Toler never left the sideline. Neither appear to be serious injuries. So, that’s a positive.

Another positive, I’ve been to two Colts games at Lucas Oil Stadium this year…and both times I’ve heard Pour Some Sugar On Me. Which tells me one thing: This is going to be a great season. No matter how it looks in the preseason.

Go Colts!

Colts vs. Giants Preseason Game 2: Fast Start…Not So Fast Finish.

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Colts WR Hakeem Nicks with his former Giants quarterback Eli Manning. (Photo: Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)

The biggest thing that struck me watching the Colts preseason game against the New York Giants is this: If I were Tom Coughlin, I would give Ryan Nassib a closer look. Seriously. He was my favorite quarterback from that draft class. And I think he earned the position of backup quarterback. And former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Curtis Painter may have finally earned his walking papers.

I know the Colts blew a 26-point lead. In the fourth quarter. But you know what would concern me more? If my team was down 21-0 in the first quarter, as the Giants were.

Preseason is preseason. You judge your team when the starters are on the field. And again, the Colts starting offense looks downright dangerous, even without the likes of Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. Andrew Luck to Hakeem Nicks is starting to look like a thing. And Nicks looked like he was having a little too much fun against his old team. So much so, that he was called for taunting. Griff Whalen reestablished himself as a dominant candidate for the Colts Preseason Ring of Honor. Now, let’s see if he can deem himself ineligible by becoming a regular season star.

The Colts defense looks scary. They’ve started both preseason games with three and outs against the opposing team. The running backs are getting stuffed. And the man partially responsible for that, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (who the Colts signed from the Cleveland Browns in the offseason) got his first quarterback sack on Eli Manning in Lucas Oil Stadium. The home crowd responded with a good, warm Hoosier welcome.

There are still a few things we’re looking for. While certainly improved, I’d like to see more from the Colts running game. And ya…not giving up 27 points in the fourth quarter would be nice.

But, if what we took away from Saturday night’s second preseason game is that the Giants third string team is better than the Colts third string team…well, I’m just fine with that.

Go Colts!

Former Star Reporter Phillip B. Wilson on His New Gig at Scout.com

Phillip B. Wilson with the Famous Chicken

Phillip B. Wilson with the “Famous Chicken”

After two decades at the Indianapolis Star, sports reporter and videographer Phillip B. Wilson is embarking on a new venture. And he’s hoping Indy sports fans will join him.

“It was emotional. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be. You wonder for two months whether you could walk away from 20 years at the Star. In the end, I think I wanted a chance to just do my own thing and I thought I wasn’t getting my voice out there.”  -Phillip B. Wilson

Wilson is starting up a Colts and a Pacers page at Scout.com, where he’ll have the opportunity to cover the local teams along with the freedom to do it his way. Part of Wilson’s appeal (or “Phil B” as he’s known to fans) is that he views himself as a voice for the fans. And he says he’d rather answer to them than someone looking to turn a profit. Ultimately, it will be the fans that determine his success.

“I’ve got a two-year deal with a third year option and if enough people don’t support it, then it’ll go away. But I guarantee you in the time that I’m doing it, the fans are going to love what I do because I’ve got a lot of ideas and I’ve got the freedom to explore and I have an open mind.”

Growing up in Northwest Ohio, Wilson was a fan of many teams. He says he had to put aside his fan side when he started covering sports, but he hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to be a fan.

“You remember The Immaculate Reception, the minute Franco caught the pass. You remember the Steelers winning Super Bowls. I rooted for the Steelers, I rooted for the Cincinnati Reds, I rooted for the Ohio State Buckeyes, I rooted for the Los Angeles Lakers because I thought Magic Johnson was personality plus. And above all, I rooted for the Detroit Red Wings too. I’m still a hockey fan to this day.”

Wilson can also relate to the real (and sometimes raw) emotions fans feel while watching their teams and says it’s a reflection of how much they care and how much they have invested.

“I think for a lot of people, we identify with the wide receiver over there or the quarterback, or we want that player to succeed. We want to feel like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.”

And in the end, that’s what it’s all about: wanting to be inspired, capturing something that’s bigger than yourself, and delivering it to a grateful audience.

“I’ve had people say to me, ‘You make me a better fan.’ What else could I ask?”

You can find Phillip B. Wilson at ind.scout.com and subscribe to his site, which grants you access to everything on Scout, including his Pacers page which is in development.

I’ll be checking in with Phil B. from time to time to deliver a woman’s perspective on some of our favorite stories. Because with so many passionate female fans, Indianapolis sports is no longer a man’s world.

And Phillip B. Wilson will be the first to tell you that.

Good luck, Phil B!