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When tanking the season is Luck

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  November 28, 2011 08:48 AM

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It's Monday, Week 12 of the NFL season is not yet even in the books, and the Patriots are already 21-point favorites over the Colts this Sunday.

Twenty-one.

Good grief. What they should have done is flex this one off the schedule entirely. 

Now comes word that Peyton Manning is 50-50 about retiring, news that is probably a little more surprising than it ought to be. Either way, Manning has likely played his last snap for the Colts, who are firmly focused on the Andrew Luck era. From the Indy Star's Bob Kravitz today:

There's this fantasy notion that Manning and Luck will somehow co-exist on the same roster, and it has as much chance of coming true as my latest Charlize Theron fantasy. The Colts are not going to pay more than $35 million and take a massive salary cap hit down the road to get one year out of Manning. And they're not going to make Luck sit for two years, not if they want Luck to come here rather than force a trade.
But just as there's no crying in baseball, there's no sentimentality in football. Ask Marvin Harrison, who was duly placed in the Colts' Ring of Honor on Sunday. When he lost a step, he was gone. Nobody here is trying to run Manning out of town, but the Colts' 0-11 season has forced ownership and the front office to make a decision that is emotionally difficult but really quite easy.

The Colts lost No. 11 on the season yesterday, 27-19 to Carolina, which came into the game with just two more wins than Indy. If you're counting, including last year's playoff loss to the Jets and the season-ending letdown at Houston, that's 13 straight losses for the former, perennial Super Bowl contender. Manning played in those two.

At least Colts fans won't have to watch their team choke in the playoffs this time around, but what's happening in Indy is pathetic. Yesterday's 12-point deficit was the least amount since losing by 10 to the Bengals on Oct. 16. And man, what a job motivational speaker Jim Caldwell has done with motivating the troops. If's he's around to see 2012 and has Luck on his hands, it's going to become clear who the real coach of this team has been over the last decade.

And that appears to be the guy the Colts are going to fire.

Imagine this happened in New England. Is there any way Bill Belichick would tank down the stretch for a shiny, new toy? There's no way. Maybe there is no sentimentality in football (Hello, Joe Montanta), but you'd have to think Belichick has more pride than that.

The Colts clearly don't, but after Sunday you're probably going to hear Bill Polian and Friends whining about "running up the score." 

Take the over. 

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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