The Indianapolis Colts are in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South. The Colts, Houston Texans, and Tennessee Titans are all 6-6, with the Colts and Texans set to play in Indianapolis this Sunday at 1:00 PM EST.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano understands the magnitude of this game since the AFC South crown is on the line. The Texans won the first divisional head-to-head 26-23 in overtime back in week 6, and another victory by Houston would effectively knock the Colts two games behind the Texans with three games left in the season. They’d be done.
So Pagano wanted everyone to know how much he wants to win on Sunday.
“There’s no trophies for second place, right?,” Pagano said via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “Saw a good YouTube video of a basketball coach explaining that, I think it was the women’s basketball coach from Louisville. He was talking about our society today and everybody gets trophies. I thought it was pretty good. You can finish fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and everybody goes home happy.
“That ain’t real life. There’s only one trophy. There’s only one division champ. That’s how they’re treating it, and that’s how we’re treating it.”
Pagano is absolutely right. There are no trophies for second place in the NFL, although some could argue that the trophy awarded after winning the conference could be considered a 2nd place trophy. But there is no official silver medal.
Banners, though? Second place banners are totally alright.
The Colts have their “Second Place in the AFC” banners hanging from the ceiling as a matter of “pride,” according to a Colts executive. Maybe Pagano should look up at the ceiling every once in a while.
Now there some might be kickback from Colts fans saying that the Patriots raised a banner to celebrate the 2007 season, despite not winning. Well, first: the Patriots took down that banner after they won another Super Bowl; and second: no other team in the history of the NFL had gone 16-0 in the regular season. There’s an “AFC Finalist” literally every single season. There’s a difference.
Although there are trophies for second place in the NFL and apparently second place in the conference, ultimately Pagano is talking about second place in the division and he is right. There is no reward for finishing second place in your division (well, unless you earn a wild card, but the Colts have no shot at that).
The Patriots are on pace to set an NFL record for finishing first in the division for the most consecutive years. Hopefully they don’t know what second place in the division feels like for many more years.