Lance Stephenson Made His Bed. Now He Needs to Lay In It.

Lance Stephenson  (Photo: ESPN)

Lance Stephenson
(Photo: ESPN)

This may sound funny coming from someone who was admittedly shocked, confused, and crushed when Lance Stephenson left the Pacers for the Charlotte Hornets in the offseason…but bear with me while I try to explain it.

The Indiana Pacers are down on their luck right now. They’re down players, down points, and down games from where they would like to be. This is quickly turning into more of a rebuilding year than any of us would have hoped for.

But there is one thing the Pacers are not…desperate. And that is exactly what they would be if they make a deal with the Hornets to bring Lance back, as the media is speculating.

As it turns out, Lance (the locker room killer, ball hog, drama queen, and yes…LeBron James ear blower) is not such a good fit in Charlotte. It seems his locker room killing, ball hogging, drama queen ways are viewed as much less charming there. Because just twenty-some games into the 82-game regular season, the Hornets are already shopping a deal for Lance Stephenson. And one of the first names to surface in a possible trade…the Indiana Pacers.

Now, let’s not get crazy here.

This is the guy who expressed nothing but love, appreciation, and respect for the Pacers organization, stating that he knew his best chance of success was with them. And yet, he chose (for not significantly more money) the Hornets over the Pacers when it came time to sign on the line.

I know. I’m sure the wooing skills of Hornets owner/former NBA Star Michael Jordan are off the charts (on the court and off), but still. Embarrassing gaffes and all, while the rest of the league began to view Lance Stephenson as a douchebag, the Pacers embraced him. The fans rallied around him. He was family.

But he’s not family anymore. When Lance moved on to the Hornets, I decided he was somebody else’s problem. I enjoyed watching a new crop of young Pacers players get their opportunity and make the most of it. And they did it unselfishly by trusting each other, sharing the ball, and using teamwork to get the job done. They reminded me of a group of young Pacers I used to know.

And that reminded me of something my sister once told me about an old boyfriend. She said, “Heather, if he lets you go, he can’t have you back.”

We cheered for Lance. We defended Lance. We embraced Lance.

Lance let us go.

And now, the Hornets are preparing to let him go.

It’s time for Lance to figure out why that is.

Without the Pacers giving him a soft place to land.

Good luck, Lance.

And GO PACERS!

Colts Fans Are Fortunate. Not Spoiled. There’s A Difference.

The Indianapolis Colts secured the AFC South at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 14, 2014

As I was riding home from the Colts game on Sunday (truthfully, more relieved than excited) I listened to the post-game show on 1070 The Fan. After starting in 209 games (a new Colts franchise record), beating the Houston Texans, and securing the AFC South once again, beloved wide receiver Reggie Wayne reflected on being in the twilight of his career. The division championships, the playoff games, the Super Bowls…what it all means to him.

“It feels like yesterday…but at the same time, it seems like it’s been forever.”

-Reggie Wayne

Wayne went on to talk about what it means for players like D’Qwell Jackson and Josh Cribbs (both former Cleveland Browns), who put in the time, but never had the opportunity to experience the success until now.

And it got me thinking (again) about just how lucky we are as Colts fans. Nine division titles since 2002. 14 trips to the playoffs in the last 16 seasons. Two AFC Championships. Two Super Bowl runs. One Lombardi Trophy. And more memories than we can even count.

We’ll hear a lot this week about how spoiled Colts fans are. But, I choose to call it something else: fortunate. The one differentiating factor is gratitude. Colts fans know how lucky they are. They appreciate the success their team has had. And they understand how rare it is in the National Football League.

Success will get you everywhere. But without gratitude, you won’t enjoy it. Colts fans are enjoying the ride. And Reggie Wayne hopes to join them, eventually…

“I’m not really able to really sit back and enjoy everything until the offseason hits. And then I’m able to kind of put things in perspective. Normally, after each season is over, I know I’m going to drive home. And those 16 hours back to Florida, that’s when I’m sitting back on I-75 and I’m thinking about what we just achieved.”

For Wayne, the Colts, and the fans, anything short of a Super Bowl championship will be a disappointment.

Not because we’re spoiled.

Because we’re fortunate.

Go Colts!

Horror Show With A Happy Ending

Run, Andrew...run! (Photo: Colts)

Run, Andrew…run!
(Photo: Indianapolis Colts)

On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts went on the road to play the Cleveland Browns. And it had all the elements of a cheesy horror movie.

The generic setting: Cleveland, Ohio

The cast:

Characters who lack any common sense: Played by Johnny Manziel, Josh Gordon, and the NFL officials

A ghostly appearance: By a shoeless T.Y. (The Ghost) Hilton

The heroes: Adam Vinatieri and the Colts defense

Teary reunion with a missing person: Colts center Khaled Holmes

The good guys: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer

Guy with overly strange name (which makes you think he’s the bad guy): Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo

The real bad man: Browns cornerback Joe Haden

The scenes:

The bad script: Johnny Manziel: “I would have ****ing hit him.”

Cringe-worthy moments: Joe Reitz’s injury, Andrew Luck’s fumble in the end zone for a Browns touchdown

Creepy music: Theme song from the movie Halloween playing in the background at FirstEnergy Stadium

Mistaken identity: Colts offense pulls off their masks at halftime…crowd is shocked (and relieved) to see they are actually the Jacksonville Jaguars

Sex: I’m not sure what Johnny Manziel had on under that coat, but I’m pretty sure it was a cheerleader

It all made for a finished product that was no one’s best work. And yet, it got the job done. And made some money.

The Indianapolis Colts slipped by the Cleveland Browns 25-24 on Sunday.

A win is a win. But where wins are concerned, this one left a lot to be desired. I made a deal with the Football Gods in the fourth quarter that if the Colts won the game, I would not complain about how ugly it was. And I will hold up my end of that bargain.

However, I do feel obligated to point out a few things.

On Sunday, the Colts entered the fourth quarter of the regular season. This is the time where you hope (and expect) your team to be bringing it all together and playing their best football. Wins aside, the Colts are far from playing their best football right now.

This game was the mistake(s) by the lake that wasn’t. The Colts leave Cleveland intact. But if they don’t clean up their act, they may not escape their next enemy.

Michael Myers is still out there. And whether he’s dressed as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tony Romo, or Jake Locker, he’s dangerous. And he’s out to get them.

It’s live or die time.

And I don’t just want the Colts to live…I want them to thrive.

Go Colts!

Reggie Wayne has a special place in the hearts of Colts fans

Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne  (Photo: Indianapolis Colts)

Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne
(Photo: Indianapolis Colts)

I don’t think people understand how much Colts fans love Reggie Wayne. I mean, really love Reggie Wayne. Don’t get me wrong…we loved Peyton Manning. But we adore Reggie Wayne.

It’s hard to explain. There’s just something about Reggie. I think it has to do with his boyish love of the game, how he skips out onto the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, arms in the air, not only engaging the fans…but taking it in. Taking it all in. Every week. It never gets old for him. And it never gets old for us. And it’s a mutual thing. When the fans show their love, whether it’s cheering or chanting “RE-GGIE! RE-GGIE! RE-GGIE!” they can feel the love coming right back to them.

Reggie Wayne didn’t just embrace Hoosiers, he made himself one of us. He charmed his way into our hearts. And he’ll always have a special place there.

So, when the media makes an issue about Andrew Luck tossing Reggie Wayne a few meaningless passes at the end of a game to keep his NFL record of games with at least three catches alive, that’s fine. That’s their job. But don’t think the fans are going to get all worked up over it.

Coach Chuck Pagano acknowledged it was his call to get Wayne two catches at the end of the Colts-Jaguars game last Sunday. With the Colts up 23-3 and with the clock ticking down…rather than take a knee, Andrew Luck tossed two short passes to Wayne (for a couple of yards). And that was it. Game over. Colts win. Streak alive. Teams do it all the time.

Reggie left the game looking dejected. Maybe he didn’t want the throws. Maybe at the time, he was more disappointed in his performance than he was worried about his record. That would be so Reggie.

But here’s the thing, Chuck Pagano and Reggie Wayne also go way back. Pagano was on the coaching staff at the University of Miami when Wayne played there. And at 36 years old (and after coming back from knee surgery), Pagano knows Reggie Wayne won’t be playing football forever. And he also knows that even if that record didn’t matter to him on Sunday, it probably will someday…and that day may come sooner than he thinks.

Let the reporters debate it. Let them argue amongst themselves.

After 14 seasons, after all the games, after all the love, after all he’s given us, you’re not going to hear a thing from Colts fans about tossing Reggie Wayne a couple of balls for the record books.

At the very least, you’re not going to hear it from this Colts fan.

Re-ggie! Re-ggie! Re-ggie!

Go Colts!!

T.Y. Hilton’s baby has the best birth story ever

Some day, years from now, when Eugenia Emma Hilton asks her daddy to tell her about the day she was born…she’s going to hear quite a story.

T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts, and father to daughter “Gigi,” will tell her that she wasn’t expected for weeks, that he turned his phone off and went to bed in his hotel room the night before the Colts played the Jacksonville Jaguars in Indianapolis, and that he was awakened by a knock on his door early that morning.

It was someone from the team, informing him that his wife, Shantrell, was in labor. He rushed to the hospital in time for the birth, spent a few hours with his first daughter (she has two big brothers), then rushed back to Lucas Oil Stadium for the start of the game.

Oh, yeah. And on the way out, he asked his little girl if she wanted a touchdown ball or a game ball.

With no food and little sleep, Daddy went back to work. Then, in the third quarter, with a deep right pass from Colts quarterback Andrew Luck…T.Y. Hilton scored a touchdown! And rocked the ball in the end zone like a baby. Colts fans cheered in approval and congratulations.

Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton celebrates his touchdown in honor of his new baby girl, Eugenia Emma Hilton.

Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton celebrates his touchdown in honor of his new baby girl, Eugenia Emma Hilton. (Photo: Indianapolis Colts)

The Colts beat the Jaguars 23-3. And with four catches for 122 yards and a touchdown, Daddy returned a few hours later with a touchdown ball and a game ball for his sweet baby girl.

And that, little Eugenia, is the story of the day you were born.

Now, how many people can say that?