The League

Michael Wilbon
Columnist

Michael Wilbon

Washington Post sports reporter and ESPN personality

Disappointing decision

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I suppose if the Indianapolis Colts wind up holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of the first Sunday evening in February that the ends will have justified the means. But from where we sit now, Jim Caldwell's decision to turn his nose up at a shot at historic greatness stinks. Removing Peyton Manning and essentially all the Colts starters while playing at home with the lead stinks.

As we judge Caldwell's decision right here, right now, it seems almost dishonorable. You know what's worse than not winning? Not trying. It flies in the face of everything we love about sports, everything parents and coaches teach kids about competition. Not trying is unforgivable. And based on what...somebody could get hurt? Hell, it's football, yes, somebody could get hurt. The first commandment in sports is "Play to Win" and Caldwell spit on that Sunday. Did you see the look on Peyton Manning's face when Caldwell ordered him to the sideline? Did you see the look on the faces of the other Colts players? They looked sick, like they felt their coach betrayed them, which of course he did.

If the Colts go on to win the Super Bowl Caldwell will be able to stand behind a lectern, as the coach of a league champion, and defend Sunday's decision with zeal, with complete and total authority. He can look out at the critics and questioners and give a Belichick-ian sneer if he wants. And even the players in the locker room who, like most of us, think right now that the decision stinks will do a total 180 and say their coach knew what he was doing all along. But in the moment, it seems like a crime against the season, a stain on Caldwell's resume. I don't know that I've ever seen a coach deflate his own team the way Caldwell did the Colts yesterday. They wanted to win the game, especially with it being played at home, and the coach didn't care about what they thought.

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By Michael Wilbon  |  December 28, 2009; 7:46 AM ET  | Category:  Indianapolis Colts , Peyton Manning Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Hey, I finally got a ticket to my team's home game! I'm gonna get to see all my favorite players live! What? They're not playing? Are you serious? Because they might get hurt? What about the $300 bucks I'm paying to see them? I'm what? I'm "just a fan"? Oh.

Posted by: maestro333 | January 2, 2010 8:34 AM

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