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Can't help but cheer for the Colts

By Staff
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
There are a lot of reasons I was extremely happy to see the Indianapolis Colts win the AFC Championship last Sunday night.
I was happy to see Peyton Manning exorcise his demons and, at least partially, shed that albatross of "choker" that has hung around his neck since his college years at Tennessee. Yes, if he loses the Super Bowl, the grumblings of "can't win the big one" will start again. But at least for now Manning, who has always been one of my favorite players, is enjoying that wonderful feeling of victory.
It was especially gratifying to see Manning win, because very early in the game he threw an interception that New England returned for a touchdown. That play would have been scrutinized and dissected forever had the Colts lost, but instead it simply will quietly fade away and be forgotten. All anyone will remember is Manning's game-winning 80-yard drive, a drive that came 20 years after Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway made history with his own game-tying drive in an AFC championship game.
I was happy to see Tony Dungy, one of the best coaches currently in the NFL, finally get over the hump and take a team to the Super Bowl. I was equally happy to see New England coach Bill Belichick have to swallow that bitter pill of defeat.
Belichick, who is surly even his best days, was so bitter following Sunday's loss that it was laughable. I felt sorry for the reporters who had to cover his post-game press conference, where seemingly every response was a curt platitude like, "Indy's a good team. I'm not taking anything away from them," or, "We played the defenses we thought would work." Belichick's expression the whole time he was at the podium suggested a man who wanted to be anywhere in the world other than in that media room in Indianapolis.
I was happy to see several alumni of my favorite teams move onto the Super Bowl. The Colts have two former Irish players on their roster – linebacker Rocky Boiman and holder/punter Hunter Smith – as well as two injured reserves – tight end Jerome Collins and linebacker Brandon Hoyte. My second favorite college football team, Iowa, is also well-represented in Indy. Defensive back Bob Sanders and tight end Dallas Clark were both former Hawkeyes who came up with big plays against the Patriots.
Speaking of college, I was happy for my best friend and former roommate at Notre Dame, who was a die-hard Indianapolis Colts fan.
We had a seemingly-yearly ritual where he would be disappointed after the Colts choked in the playoffs in winter, and I'd be disappointed after the Braves choked in the playoffs in the fall. Neither of us had to deal with that choke this year, though I'm not sure that's such a good thing since the Braves didn't even make the postseason.
I was happy to see Marvin Harrison make it the Super Bowl. Harrison is the anti-Terrell Owens. He is a wide receiver who simply goes about his job quietly, putting up impressive numbers every season but without any of the headaches that hotshots like T.O. and Randy Moss bring. He has also showed impressive loyalty during his career, as he has played all 11 professional seasons with the Colts. I love to cheer for guys like that.
I was happy to see offensive linemen get in the spotlight. They are the forgotten ones, the unsung heroes that go about their jobs without the multi-million dollar endorsement contracts (save that hilarious Visa commercial a few years ago with Tom Brady and his Patriots' O-line). But on Sunday, they got a chance to shine as two different offensive linemen scored a touchdown – New England's Logan Mankins and Indy's Jeff Saturday. Plus, Indy's Dan Klecko – who primarily sees action at defensive tackle – had a key touchdown reception. You can't help but smile at that.
Finally, I was happy to see the Colts win because it sets up a Super Bowl match-up that on paper is very exciting. Peyton Manning and Indy's explosive offense against the Bears' bruising turnover-creating defense. The NFL's first Super Bowl match-up of African-American head coaches. A match-up of teams that are just 180 miles away.
I can't wait until February 4.

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