It is no secret that America loves football. Many enjoy the sport for the incredible athleticism, intense rivalries and big hits. The true beauty of football lies with the uplifting stories that surround the sport. From underdog victories to comeback wins, football has the ability to touch your heart. The Indianapolis Colts’ 2012 season encompasses the very meaning of inspirational.
After losing their star quarterback, Peyton Manning, to injury in 2011, the Colts learned quickly that you cannot put all of your eggs in one basket. After finishing last season 2-14, the Colts decided to make some big changes to both their organization and the team itself. During the off season, the Colts released Manning and a number of veteran starters to prepare for a new era.
Soon after Manning’s release, the Colts received a great deal off criticism. Nevertheless, the Colts proceeded to stir the pot by hiring Ryan Grigson as the new GM and Chuck Pagano as head coach. With such drastic changes in all levels of the organization, Colts fans had no idea what was in store for 2012.
After winning their first home game, the Colts began to ease the worries of their fans. Already they had won half the games they had last year with the whole season in their vision. After Pagano’s leukemia diagnosis shocked Indianapolis, the Colts refused to give up their fight. Instead, they played harder and rebounded quicker than anyone expected.
With their interim head coach, Bruce Arians, the Colts went on to win 10 of their 13 remaining games. Among their wins, they had a number of incredible comeback victories. When they were defeated, the Colts quickly learned from their mistakes and rebounded like nothing happened. It was apparent the Colts had channeled Pagano’s strength and fortitude as they worked toward the goal they had set with their coach at the beginning of the season.
Although they had clinched a playoff berth with no hope in improving their positioning, the Colts refused to stop fighting. When many teams may have kept their starters on the bench, the Colts attacked the Houston Texans with all that they had. The motivation was there from beginning to end, not wavering for a second.
Pagano’s return has been moving to more than just the team. The Colts fan who were in attendance on Sunday showed their support for their team and their brave coach. Pagano was greeted with a standing ovation and a loud roar from the crowd. Chuck, and likely many fans, were moved to tears at the incredible display of support.
The 12th man did not stop there. Lucas Oil Stadium was more electrified than it had been all season, probably in two seasons. With each successful play came a thunderous cheer. Each bad call by the referees triggered loud booing from the crowd.
The Colts seemed to feed off the energy as they gave their fans the all they had as if they saved the best for last. As if their effort was not enough, the Colts showcased a tribute to the 12th man for their loyalty through all the uncertainty.