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Playing the Refs Like Concert Pianists

Preemptive Complaining
Colts 'Official' Game Plan

The Indianapolis Colts are heading into Sunday's AFC Championship firing on all cylinders, and they have a secret weapon, too.

Seven of them actually.

OK, OK, they don't have the officials in the pocket, but make no mistake, the Colts have been playing the officials all week to "keep it fair" (a la Rodney Dangerfield in "Caddyshack") on Sunday.

It's a tactic commonly employed by the Colts for years. They have a front office official, team president Bill Polian, and a coach (Tony Dungy) on the competition committee, and they use those positions to change rules as best to suit the Colts style of play. And to affect calls from game-to-game.

Do a Google search for dungy penalty or polian penalty and you'll get a slew of hits that say, for example, "Upon further review, Dungy unhappy with officials." In that one, Dungy complained about a play that was overturned on a replay challenge and went against Indianapolis. "To overturn that is clearly wrong," he said.

Any other coach that makes that statement gets fined. In fact, these stories are full of quote after quote of Dungy and Polian bashing the officials, comments for which any other coach or player or possibly owner would be and fined and sent reprimand letters.

But you never hear about the Colts being fined or reprimanded.

Why? Because Dungy is on the coaches competition subcommittee. And if Mike Pereira won't listen to Dungy there, he has to listen to Polian on the main committee.

Pretty good plan.

It goes so far as Polian assaulting a New York Jets employee and Polian having to do no more than send the man a written apology. You think anyone else would get off that easy?

The Colts are so proud of their untouchability, they post it on the official team website. Here is an interview basically blaming the officials for the Colts not scoring more touchdowns in the playoffs.

Funny thing is: Most other teams are.

But it's not funny now, because Polian and Dungy have been hinting strongly to the league all week that they're expecting flags to fly Sunday.

"I worry about what kind of game we're getting when we allow so much rough stuff down the field," Polian said.

Rough stuff. Like pulling a jersey (which he's complained about numerous times). That's pretty rough.

Polian took a page from LaDainian Tomlinson's book (You know: Tell everyone you're classy and then act classless) when he spoke to The New York Times.

"I wasn't criticizing the officiating in that game," Polian said after the touchdownless win over the Ravens. "I think it's clear downfield officiating has been a little bit loose. That worries me for the sake of the game. "The sake of the game." That's classic. What a politician. He must be a lawyer.

During a conference call with the Boston sports media the next day, someone asked Dungy about Polian's comments to which he replied, "Hopefully, what was a penalty in the first game of the regular season is till a penalty in the playoffs. That's all you can hope for."

If you'll remember, these were a few penalties in the Colts 27-20 win over New England in Foxboro earlier this season:

  • Illegal contact, Chad Scott
  • Pass interference (22 yards), Chad Scott
  • Illegal contact, Asante Samuel
  • Illegal use of hands, Mike Vrabel
  • Illegal use of hands, Troy Brown (he was playing defense)
  • Personal foul, Rosevelt Colvin (I still don't know what he did)
  • Offensive pass interference, Reche Caldwell
  • Taunting, Troy Brown
That's five pass defense penalties, some random call against Colvin after he pushed the tackled ball carrier to the ground because the whistle hadn't blown yet, and that surreal taunting call on Brown who was tossing the ball to the sideline official.

Yep, the Colts want more of the same. That's what they're "hoping" (read: lobbying) for.

And chances are they'll get it.


The AFC Championship officials will ...

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    ... call too many pass defense penalties.
    (7 votes)
  • 30%
    ... a fair number of pass defense penalties.
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    ... call too few pass defense penalties.
    (0 votes)
10 votes total Vote Now