It was a strange medicine that got me over the crushing loss by my Indianapolis Colts to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
I went to bed a hot mess on Sunday night. On Monday morning, I got up, listened to sports talk radio, and wrote about the five stages of grief for Colts fans. I felt a little better. I put myself somewhere between bargaining and depression. By Tuesday, I was done bargaining and it was just depression. I figured I’d be there for a while.
But when the report came out from ESPN that the Patriots were playing with deflated footballs, everything changed. Not because it had any impact on the outcome of the game. I make no excuses for the way my team played and neither do they.
What changed was how I felt about it. Initially, I was angry and disappointed, but also a little embarrassed about the 45-7 spanking the Colts took at the hands of the Patriots. But, as I watched allegations of another Patriots cheating scandal unfold, I couldn’t help but feel anything but grateful.
Because win or lose, I’m proud of my team. And I’m proud to call them mine. I wear my Colts pride on my sleeve (and many other places) and I never feel the need to justify it.
That matters to me. It always has. It’s one of the things that makes me such a loyal and passionate fan. I love that my fandom defines me and that it’s one of the first things people talk to me about when they see me. And much of that goes back to who my team is.
The Colts lost badly in the AFC Championship game. They aren’t going to the Super Bowl. But the future is bright and I know they’ll get back there soon enough.
More importantly, I know they’ll do it the right way.
I have now made peace with the fact that this Colts season is over. And even how it came to be over. Strangely enough, it took the team that ended it to get me to acceptance.
Football is life. And life is all about perspective.
Being disappointed in your team’s performance is one thing. Being disappointed in your team is another.
The Colts may have lost the game.
But the Patriots lost much more.