Friday, November 11, 2011

When You're Accustomed to Winning

As I've said before, I was an Indianapolis Colts fan long before it was cool. And as for what's happened this season - I have only myself to blame. (Note: Never ask a question unless you're sure you want to have it answered.)

Peyton Manning, arguably the best quarterback ever to play the game, may never play again as a result of multiple surgeries on his neck. I'm not ready to eulogize him just yet (after all, he's our GUY and hopefully always will be), but this begs the question - what do you do when a winning streak ends and the ground crumbles beneath your feet? When you don't get the job, or all of the appliances in your kitchen break at the same time, or your car needs jumper cables three mornings in a row, do you:
* Embrace losing with a plucky sense of humor (see: #SuckForLuck)?
* Take it seriously and have an angry meltdown (see: just about any sporting event ever lost in the city of Philadelphia)?
* Just sit there. Stunned. Asking, "What just happened?"

If I'm honest, I'm the one who sits there stunned with my mouth hanging open as my IQ plummets about 30 points and my teeth turn to cotton. I'd rather be the one with the plucky sense of humor, like the guy who set up the #SuckForLuck twitter campaign.

For the uninitiated, #SuckForLuck is named for college quarterback Andrew Luck. He and his Stanford degree are expected to be the first pick in the next NFL draft. The first pick goes to the team in last place, so the joke is that bad teams are trying to be their worst in order to "win" him. At least... we hope it's a joke (the Colts have been losing the most, so they are currently "winning").

There's a lot to like about Andrew Luck. For one, he decided to stay in school and finish his Stanford degree. He was coached by former Colts quarterback Jim 'Captain Comeback' Harbaugh. So-called "experts" say that he's the closest to a "sure thing" they've ever seen. They "know" he'll be a star in the league. And I'll admit - I enjoy watching him play and can't help rooting for him.

I've always been rather loud about my Colts fan-hood. Now that the Colts have gone from constantly winning to constantly losing, everyone wants to ask me about the Andrew Luck/Peyton Manning controversy. Do you stand by your guy, or go after the shiny, tantalizing young gun in hopes of ending your losing streak for the next 10-15 years?

My Answer: I wish things could go back to the way they were - with Peyton healthy and Andrew Luck buried in some high school somewhere not bothering anyone, not making us daydream like philandering bigamists, cheating on our franchise player while he struggles back from a rather scary neck injury. It's like one of those stories where the hero is sent off to war, gets captured and is assumed dead, and then bravely returns home to find his lovely wife cuddling in an intimate way with their younger, capable, fiery neighbor.

The good thing is that now I know what kind of loser I am. Now I have clear eyes, a full heart, and ample opportunity to practice losing until I know how to do it properly.

I thank and salute you, anonymous Miami Dolphins fan who started #SuckForLuck. Thank you for blurring the lines between winning and losing and reminding us to look on the bright side. There's a practical life lesson here. Like a 1980's sitcom.

Thank you to evil genius @thatdjgallo (writer for ESPN's Page 2) for suggesting the Colts draft Andrew Luck and then bury him on the bench, just so no one else can have him. (This is going to be my new answer to the Manning/Luck controversy question.)

And thank you most of all to @PeytonsHead, the best thing on Twitter since @MayorEmanuel fell into that unfortunate vortex. If we learn nothing else, friends, we must learn this: When you are accustomed to winning, and then you begin to lose, you know who your true friends are. Don't take yourself too seriously, stay calm, and carry on. Nothing lasts forever.