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Backup plan

Colts may choose starters' health over perfect year

Posted: Wednesday November 16, 2005 11:26AM; Updated: Wednesday November 16, 2005 11:29PM
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Please, I beg you, don't make me listen to, or read, another thing about T.O. He's past tense, terminado. I just can't take anymore. No more moralizing, no more high school editorials. Please God, I'm full up.

"Isn't there some kind of hearing about him Friday?" the Flaming Redhead says. Thanks, Linda. You've given me something to look forward to, another whole round of it, Michael Irvin on ESPN with that serious face, telling us why T.O. should be able to name whatever terms he chooses, etc. I need something calm, something peaceful to distract me ... I've got it ... THE RANKINGS, YEAH!

NFL Power Rankings
Rank LW Team
1 1 Seven teams stand between Indy and immortality. By now each member of the magnificent seven has received an engraved invitation from former players on the '72 Dolphins to visit their homes and have dinner and stay over -- if a certain event takes place. Following is a chronology of the Colts' future:

Nov. 20 -- A windy day in Cincinnati. Edgerrin James runs for 140 yards. Colts 23, Bengals 17.

Nov. 28 -- The Steelers arrive with Tommy Maddox at QB. Colts 13, Steelers 6.

Dec. 4 -- Tension is mounting as Tennessee arrives. Everyone's looking ahead to the Jaguars. This one almost tips the wagon. Repeat, almost. Colts 31, Titans 30.

Dec. 11 -- Jaguars on the road. This has got to be it. Bob Griese has been on local TV all week, Jim Mandich, Nick Buoniconti. For the love of God, stop them! Colts have fire in their eyes. Indy 38, Jaguars 20.

Dec. 18 -- The Colts are 13-0. They have clinched everything, including home field through 2010. Tony Dungy appears on TV and says that it is more important to have a healthy team, going into the playoffs, than a record-breaker. Surely the man can't be serious. Talk-show hosts are in an absolute frenzy. Fights break out in studios. What, rest people? He's kidding. It's a set-up. The '72 Dolphins issue a collective statement about how inhuman it would be to risk players' health and safety by, uh, letting them play, when there's the whole post-season remaining. Jim Sorgi is quoted as saying that he can quarterback the team to victory. He receives death threats. As the team takes the field against the Chargers, he is introduced in the starting lineup, and the boos rain, along with shredded souvenir Colt jerseys and helmets. Chargers 34, Colts' reserves 14. It's over.

2 2 From the how's that again Dept. On the pass he delivered to Hines Ward that broke the team pass catching record, Charlie Batch broke the pinkie on his throwing hand. "If only he could have waited to break the record," the Redhead says. If what, huh, says which?
3 4 Jake Plummer is a triple crown interception winner, once leading the NFL outright, once tying for the lead and once leading the NFC. Now, after nine games, he's got only three. I've never been fond of the doctrine that preaches that after cleanliness and Godliness, safety first is the best thing for a QB. But tell me, when you look at Plummer's season, how can a logical person argue with this?
4 5 Ken Lucas is my No. 1 cornerback in the league right now, but after what he said about the Jets, he'll be on my all-pro team with an asterisk next to his name. That'll show him! For further information on this subject, wait about 26 places.
5 6 A week ago Tuesday, wideout Jerheme Urban was cut without pay after suffering a stress fracture in his foot. Seemed that he'd signed a waiver, beforehand, because he was an injury risk. Players complained. Fullback Mack Strong, the union rep, complained. Urban was then recalled and placed on injured reserve, which means he'll get his pay for the rest of the season. And who is the owner of this team, whose first instinct is to be so careful with his pennies? Computer gazillionaire and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. And that is why I believe in the strength of unionizaton, folks.
6 3 I don't want to say their upset by the Vikings made me happy, but at least it quieted all that silly Manning vs. Manning Super Bowl talk for a while.
7 8 Oh man, are the league schedule makers ever crafty. They gave the Bengals a bye just so they could get themselves good and ready for that assault on the Colts' unbeaten mark.
8 11 Before the Ravens' game they had tied a record of 58 straight games, during the 16-game season era, without scoring 30 points. Then they blew it by scoring 30 against Baltimore. Everybody's despondent. What do we do now? I've got the answer. Keep it going by working on the record for consecutive games not scoring more than 30. I believe that would be 59 now.
9 7 You believe in the QB rating system? OK, how's this? Two of Michael Vick's highest ranked games, Seattle (94.8) and Green Bay (108.9), were losses. His two lowest rated outings, Philly (55.7) and the Jets (16.3), were victories. This isn't the definitive argument, by any means, but it's just a little more ammo in my war against the Elias Bureau and it's silly system.
10 9 Late Sunday night I wrote my handicapping column for Sports Illustrated, featuring Philly vs. the Giants, assuming the Eagles would show the same lethargy against the Cowboys that they had for most of the year. I picked New York to win the following week. Then on Monday night I watched Dallas-Philly, and after two series, it became obvious that I'd made a terrible mistake and the Eagles were going to blow 'em out. At halftime, when I should normally be working on my charts, I called my editor. Is it possible to dictate a quick rewrite? (My deadline had been that morning). "OK, do it quickly," he said. "Let's have it." So I changed my angle to how the miserable Eagles had turned it around. Then, of course, came that freak-show ending, and McNabb's injury. What do I do now? Is it too late to add something? Didn't even remember who I had ultimately picked in Giants-Eagles. See what happens in this high-powered, madcap world of deadline writing?