I thought I saw an inspiring and heartful performance on Saturday night. Watching an emotional AJ McCarron bring the Alabama Crimson Tide back to beat the LSU Tigers in “Death Valley.” And it was. A strong, coming of age performance by a young quarterback and his team.
Then I watched my Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. And then I saw Coach Chuck Pagano’s locker room speech afterwards. Have there ever been more tears shed in one weekend of football? No wonder I’m emotionally drained. Vince Lombardi must be rolling over in his grave. I bet he’s smiling though.
Sunday was truly a special day. Coach Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia during the Colts bye week at the end of September, returned to the team for the first time. He surprised players in the locker room before the game and joined them there after to celebrate their 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Yesterday was more than a win though. It was a turning point for the team. The Colts have gone from “the worst team in the NFL” to “that team.” That team that’s dangerous. That team that’s on a playoff run. That team that’s playing for more than football.
And led by Andrew Luck, the young quarterback who now owns the rookie passing record. Luck passed for 433 yards and two touchdowns, passing Peyton Manning and Cam Newton along the way.
And speaking of numbers…check this out. As of week nine, the Broncos sit at 5-3. Peyton Manning has passed for 2,404 yards. The Colts are also 5-3. Andrew Luck has passed for…2,404 yards. Look it up, people. It’s true. And eerie…in a divine kind of way.
Yes, after all that second guessing…we’re going to be just fine. Better than fine. We’re going to be great.
Coach Pagano, who starts another round of chemotherapy this week, will overcome. He said it himself Sunday, “It’s already beat.”
The Colts will overcome. Overcome illness, injuries, mistakes. Throw anything at them. They will find a way.
Because this team is building more than a team, more than a monster. They’re building character.
And that’s the most dangerous thing of all. Because if you have character, no one can beat you.