NFL schedule-makers kick Colts in gut

April 18, 2012
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So much for not kicking a man when he’s down.

The Indianapolis Colts and its owner, Jim Irsay, got a good swift kick in the gut with the release of the 2012 schedule Tuesday night.

The Colts, coming off a 2-14 season, are only scheduled to play one prime-time game. And to make matters worse, it isn’t until week 10 of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars—not exactly considered a classy date to the prom. To cap it off, it’s at Jacksonville.

Last year, the Colts were scheduled for five prime-time games with two of those at home. The Colts stank so bad last year, the NFL bounced them out of the prime-time line-up in week 13. After getting humiliated in prime-time in week seven at New Orleans, team officials might have been happy about the week 13 move.

Still, the 2012 schedule is a big hit to Irsay and his franchise, not to mention the team’s corporate partners. Companies like Lucas Oil depend on the national spotlight to make big-dollar sponsorship deals pay dividends.

The Colts sales department has some explaining to do. I’m not sure there are any answers, though, for this schedule. The Colts sales department will also have to assure sponsors and prospective sponsors that this type of scheduling won’t be the norm going forward.

Andrew Luck, widely expected to be the No. 1 selection in this month’s draft, should go a long way toward alleviating those fears. Then again, it’s a bit mystifying why the best college quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning and John Elway wouldn’t command a little more attention from NFL schedule makers during his rookie season.

Some Colts fans might ask, “Who really cares?” After all, fans can watch all the games on local TV. And what’s it to me if Irsay loses a little sponsorship money or his staff has to hustle more to secure those deals?

The city of Indianapolis also loses out. Organizations like the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association count on publicity from those Thursday, Sunday and Monday night prime-time games to pump up Indy’s image.

Those shots of Monument Circle, Georgia Street, Victory Field and our downtown canal beamed out to tens of millions of households nationwide are priceless. No one cringed more over the Colts’ 2012 schedule than ICVA CEO Leonard Hoops, the mayor and his economic development crew.

The Colts’ appearance on prime-time TV would have been an ideal opportunity for Indianapolis to get some nice mentions about the way it hosted last season’s Super Bowl. Many of those opportunities, sadly, will be lost.

How would Indianapolis officials and Colts fans like a side of salt for your wound? Well, here you go.

For the first time in franchise history the Denver Broncos are scheduled to open the season with back-to-back prime-time games. It’s also the second time in team history Denver has been scheduled to play five prime-time games in a season—the most allowed by the NFL.

Wow, five prime-time games for the Broncos and their new quarterback, Peyton Manning! Suddenly, that $28 million signing bonus to retain No. 18 doesn’t look so big. Maybe Mayor Greg Ballard should have put together an incentive package to keep Manning here.

Certainly the anticipation to see how Manning does with his new team after missing the entire 2011 season will span far beyond the borders of Indiana and Colorado.

But what about five prime-time games each for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears? Yes, Pittsburgh is a football hotbed and Chicago is a massive market, but c’mon, man. The Bears and Lions play in prime time for crying out loud.

Is there no love for Indy? Apparently not at the NFL’s New York headquarters.

It’s truly time for this team to rebuild. They’ve rebuilt their front office and coaching staff. They’re re-building their roster.

With tickets still for sale for next season, Colts officials have to rebuild their relationship with fans and polish their image with sponsors.

As if the team’s to-do list isn’t long enough, they need to add one more thing.

Restore the faith of the NFL schedule makers.

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  • A kick in the gut?
    It is hard to call this a "kick in the gut." The Colts will be atrocious next year. Aside from Colts fans, no one will want to watch them next year, even with Andrew Luck.
  • Why is this a story?
    So why did you even write this? Colts sucked last year, will suck this year and subsequently won't be on national but one time. They are lucky they are on that one time. Certainly there is more interesting stories to write. I am sure you can write another Indycar sucks article - go for it.
  • This is a Big Deal
    This is a big deal as AS explains. Our city was in the lime-light during the Super Bowl and we don't want to lose ground. Prime-time games are a much bigger boost to the local bars and restaurants than a regular game. The press the city gets is priceless. It will hurt us.
  • Idiotic article
    Sports teams ebb and flow. No one is going to be a winner every season. To expect to be a winner at a high level every season is unrealistic. Sponsors should realize this. We will see what happens to Denver if Manning takes a big hit, is driven into the ground and can't get up. That possibility is always present on any given play.
  • You've got to be kidding!
    Are you being serious? The NFL screwed you? First, you were bad last year so you get less spotlight this year. It's how it works; sorry.

    Second, I have never SEEN the NFL be so generous to a team in its scheduling, and you're complaining about it! Unbelievable! Your best hope is that Luck develops quickly, right? You play all but one of your hardest teams the last seven weeks of the season (including not having to face the Texans at ALL until Week 15). And the one team you do play earlier, you get a BYE before them. Five of your first nine opponents had losing records last year (and don't look to be much better) and seven of your first nine were .500 or worse. You get Vikings and Jags while Luck learns the big leagues and then don't have to worry about Lions and Pats until down the line when he's in a groove. That's the MOST you could have hoped for.
  • Glass half empty
    This is a "glass half empty" perspective. You could have also written about all the bonus exposure our community has received because of the Colts success. Same goes for their sponsors. But every team has a down swing at some point, and when a team dips to 2-14 they will not be in the national spotlight.
  • Denver in the limelight
    Did you happen to see Denver get 5 primetime games next year? 2 Monday night, 2 Sunday night, and a Thursday. Apparently Manning has ton of influence over the NFL schedule.
  • wrong
    A kick in the gut! Hardly. The colts are coming off a 3-13 year, they will have a rookie quarterback, with a couple of veteran receivers and an unstable offensive line, and a defense that is on the decline. The colts might win 4 games this next season.
    Denver got to the playoffs last year, they are returning a large number of players, they actually managed to upgrade from a good/very good quarterback to a great qb. The risk with the nfl is that Peyton will get hurt, and even if that happens, Denver will probably still go to the playoffs. 5 prime time games, Denver probably would have gotten at least 3 without Peyton, adding 2 more games, given the fan interest in Manning, is a no-brainer.
    You gotta win to get prime-time games, Denver will be worth watching.
  • Colts on national TV
    Actually the Colts will be on national tv three times this year, including August 19 at Steelers and August 25 at Redskins.

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