“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.” -Cobb, Inception (2010)
For the past six months, I, like every other die hard Colts fan, have suffered through one of the most painful periods in franchise history. We all know the story too well by now: after nine straight playoff appearances, two Super Bowl appearances, and one well-earned Lombardi trophy, the most famous player in Indianapolis Colts history, our four-time MVP, the man who revitalized a city without ever missing a game, Peyton Manning, inexplicably had to undergo a September neck surgery that would eventually prevent him from playing a single game in the 2011-2012 NFL season. Heartbreaking as this was, the question then arose as to whether or not Peyton Manning would ever play again.
I, for one, sort of blew this question off. “There’s no way that one of the hardest-working players in NFL history doesn’t come back from a successful surgery,” I thought to myself (without any knowledge of the complexity or severity of the surgery he underwent). Although quite an ignorant statement on my part, I just knew deep down in my soul after years of watching him live and breathe football that the doctors would have to cut Peyton Manning’s head off before he would stop playing the game he loved. “And if he comes back,” I once again thought to myself, “there’s no way he’ll ever play for any team but the Colts, especially if we’re terrible without him because that’ll prove his true worth. He’ll retire in Indy no matter what. It’s the way it’s supposed to be.” If you were to take a straw pole of a group of honest Colts fans today, I’m POSITIVE that the vast majority of those fans would agree that they had the same type of mindset as me back in September. Peyton Manning WAS Indianapolis. There was no way around it. He would be here for his entire career.
Fast forward about six months. Today is March 7th, 2012. Last year, the Colts endured one of the worst seasons in franchise history and ended up with a 2-14 mark. We now know that Peyton Manning is doing quite well in his recovery process, and we are expecting him to play close to full strength in the Fall of 2012. With this said, a press conference is scheduled for today to announce the RELEASE OF PEYTON MANNING. Wait. What? I thought if we had a really bad season without our best player and he was able to recover from his injury in the off-season, we were going to keep him around? Didn’t we already decide that this seemed like the only logical choice back in September? Didn’t the events of the season go just as we had planned?
SO, WHAT HAPPENED?
In the movie Inception, the main character, Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, works as a thief who invades people’s dreams and extracts information from their minds. Shortly into the movie, he is given a task (thought impossible by some) to enter one man’s dreams and create an idea in the man’s mind, a process known as inception. Though he and his fellow inceptors run into many different obstacles along the way, by the end of the movie, they are able to complete the process of inception. The victim now has in his mind an idea which was once foreign to him, but he now thinks is his own. It, in turn, completely changes the man’s goals in life. Chalk one up for Leo, right?
It turns out an inception has occurred in our story as well. In Indianapolis, Cobb is played by Bob Kravitz, famed Indianapolis Star sports columnist and supplier of a continuous stream of what I like to call “Peyton Propaganda.” A man who has single-handedly convinced the media (networks like ESPN), the entire Colts franchise, and the vast majority of Colts fans everywhere that it is time for the Colts to release Peyton Manning and move on to future endeavors. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we are the victims of an inception! The only difference is that we’re not dreaming. This is real life. (As a side note, if Bob Kravitz invades your dreams, I wouldn’t tell anybody because that’s extremely strange.)
So, let me be the first to say it: Well done, Bob. Tip of the cap! You got your way after six whole months of pushing your agenda and then acted like it’s not what you wanted in the end (once you knew it was official) while green bills floated out of your pockets and ears. Well played, sir!
“Wow, those are harsh accusations!” you might say… “That movie didn’t make any sense to me at all. Wasn’t it all just a dream anyways?” or…”You’re just a bitter Colts fan looking for someone to blame.” Perhaps, but first let us look at the facts and consider the brilliant work of Mr. Kravitz…
Since the beginning of October, Kravitz has written somewhere in the vicinity of eighty columns. His columns usually consist of a wide range of topics from Indy car racing to Colts football to Pacers basketball to Purdue and IU sports. During that time, of those eighty articles, OVER TWENTY OF THEM HAVE BEEN BASED SOLELY ON THE PEYTON SITUATION. Now, to the average reader, this may seem reasonable. I mean it is a pretty important topic in the city. The problem, however, is not the number of columns but the content. Each one of the these columns adamantly pushed an agenda for getting rid of Peyton Manning and replacing him with Andrew Luck. Titles, such as: “Is Manning Era Over? Is it time to ponder next QB?” (Kravitz, Nov. 4) and “Best options don’t include Manning” (Kravitz, Nov. 18), have clogged the sports page for months on end. His first column pushing an anti-Manning agenda was on October 16, 2011. The season was only six weeks old then! He had no idea how Manning’s rehab was coming and, yet, he was writing that it was time to get rid of him!? Are you kidding me?
Many of these columns have also made unfounded claims about Peyton never being able to play again and not wanting to stay in Indy with another talented quarterback behind him. The fact of the matter is that these claims just simply weren’t true and aren’t true now. But, through his bombardment of Colts fans with propaganda and unfounded claims, Kravitz blatantly blurred the line between fact and fiction, between his agenda and the truth. Yes, I do understand that columnists are supposed to give their opinion on a situation, but Kravitz’s work over the last six months has persistently driven home a demand for Peyton to go, not an opinion. Go back and read his articles. It’s almost comical, but people have eaten up each and every word based solely on his positive reputation from years past.
“So, what?” you may ask, “Just because a columnist from a small, Midwestern newspaper wants Peyton gone, doesn’t mean that anyone outside of Indianapolis or in the Colts organization cares about what he writes.” I would have to disagree with anyone that makes this claim. Bob has made numerous appearances on ESPN pushing his anti-Peyton agenda over the last few months. He is friends with renowned writers, television show hosts, and radio show hosts from around the country. Men who have cameras in front of their faces, microphones in front of their mouths, and Twitter accounts at their fingertips at all hours of the day. Men who actually use him as their number one source for up-to-the-minute Peyton information. He, not Rob Lowe, is the go to guy for knowledge on Peyton across the country.
Now, please don’t try to tell me that Irsay and Peyton don’t watch ESPN, read newspapers, or listen to any radio shows. They could both feel the pressure building from the moment Kravitz started his propaganda campaign. Even if they were hidden from most sources of information, I can guarantee you that they were constantly bombarded with calls for interviews from media people who relied on Kravitz’s “Peyton Propaganda” as if it were reliable. The same people who first agreed with Kravitz that Peyton would never play again and then sat down on ESPN every single day and discussed where he would be playing next year (other than Indy) were the people that Kravitz used to reach Colts management and Peyton (if his columns hadn’t already). How could any modern athlete or owner (especially a Twitter fanatic like Irsay) not be affected by this propaganda? If you hear something enough times from enough “credible” sources, you will begin to believe it yourself.
Simply put, we (the media, Colts management, Peyton, Colts fans) got caught up in this whirlwind of articles, talk shows, and morning Sportscenters, which convinced us that the Colts had to release Peyton Manning and that there was no other option. Bob Kravitz planted the seed early in October, kept watering it until yesterday, and then stepped back and said that he was sad to see it all happen today. Brilliant work, indeed. To top it all off, I’m sure he made globs of money writing those controversial columns and making appearances on those television shows.
Don’t get me wrong though. My full support will always be behind the Colts no matter what they do. I mean I still cheered for the Pacers after they fought the entire Palace of Auburn Hills. I will definitely mourn the loss of Manning for awhile, but I will also be looking forward to a bright future with Andrew Luck. Maybe Luck is all he’s cracked up to be? Maybe Peyton won’t ever be same? Maybe Irsay did make the right decision in releasing Manning after all?
Alas, today the inception is complete. The idea that Peyton needs to go is now our own. Face it people….Bob Cobb wins again.