Wishing, Wanting, and Hopefully Having

            With one of Indiana’s teams down 1-0 in a NBA playoff series, another team with its owner in rehab, and its own college failing to make any post-season run, there is a lot out there for sports fans to desire. Since this may be my last post in a while, I would like to share my thoughts on what would lead Indiana back to the top of sport prominence.

As many readers out there know, the Indiana Pacers, number one seed in the Eastern Conference, dropped their first playoff game to the eight seed Atlanta Hawks. Do not take this article as giving up on a team with talent from top to bottom, but there are problems that have to be addressed. Unless feelings between teammates are significantly changed, moves need to be made and new faces need to be brought in.

The move that needs to be made is allowing Evan Turner to make his way out and secure the future of Lance Stephenson. Despite the fact that Turner has had some worth playing big minutes in Indiana, the on-court chemistry between him and other bench-contributors has not been there; which I believe to be a large part of the team’s struggles. Lance-Stephenson-280x300

The same cannot be said for Stephenson who thrives with second-team players, and has his most value distributing and driving the ball against lesser opponents. However, due to his significant drop-off in production, I would like Lance to realize that Indiana is the place where he will win his championships and take less than a max contract (which will most likely be offered from another, worse franchise).

Since I have already voiced my thoughts about Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay in a previous article, I think it would be better to leave it brief and only discuss players that step foot on the gridiron. The section of the team that I would like to analyze is not always viewed as the most important, but everyone knows that it can change the momentum of the game: Special Teams.

Proven by numerous speedsters- like DeSean Jackson or Devin Hester- successful punt and kick returning gives something for a team to rally around and triumph, and the Colts have lacked this kind of playmaker for as long as this writer has been watching. With free agency in the rearview mirror and most worthwhile players gone, finding a PR/KR specialist could be a steal, and that is exactly what Joshua Cribbs is.

Joshua Cribbs, Bryant McFaddenDespite his lack of production on offense, Cribbs has proven his worth on special teams over and over again. Cribbs has the lateral quickness to make tacklers miss and the speed to distance himself from the rest of his pursuers. Bolstering double-digit touchdowns on special teams, if Joshua Cribbs still has anything left in the tank and the smarts to keep his head down, he could make big contributions to a team that usually plays in the post-season.

The last team I want to talk about is the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, because I think that it is time for Tom Crean to make his exit from Bloomington. As a Hoosier fan, I respect Crean for bringing the team out of the depths that they found themselves in after the Kelvin Sampson scandal, but he has served his purpose to the university. With his best player, Noah Vonleh, entering the draft and a ton of others transferring to different universities, now is the time to open a new chapter at Indiana. This new chapter is named Mike Woodson.

Fresh from being a scapegoat with the New York Knicks, an Indiana alumnus is exactly what the team needs. Not only does Woodson have ties to IU and the know how to get his players to work hard- shown by the increased effectiveness of his former superstar Carmelo Anthony- but there is nothing more appealing to a high school recruit than NBA experience. Mike Woodson has shown that he can be successful on the professional level, so I am sure that he would thrive in Bloomington.

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Jim Irsay: Owner, Billionaire, Addict

As a precursor to this article, I want to clarify that as with all writers/journalists/bloggers, I write through the lens of my own life. I am not-and never have been- addicted to prescription drugs, therefore I can only speculate how those individuals think and go about their lives. However, I am a supporter of the Indianapolis Colts, so I do have a perspective that is influenced by the organization, its personnel, and its owner.

Anyone who keeps up with the daily news or social media surely knows that on Sunday March 16th, Colts’ owner Jim Irsay was pulled over for driving under the influence. During the stop by Carmel police, Irsay failed several field sobriety tests and had Schedule IV perception drugs found in his vehicle. He was then arrested, taken to jail, and charged with four felony counts.

After the event took place, the sports world took notice with differing opinions on the subject. Some out there believe that Irsay should be treated lightly since he may not have had complete control of his actions, others believe that he was acting out of his own selfish interest and should have the book thrown at him. However, both sides have come to an agreement that they are not really surprised.

Irsay has spent a large part of his life fighting addiction, and most believe that this was not his first relapse since his sobriety started 15 years ago- as declared by the owner himself last October. If one takes a glance at Irsay’s twitter account, it is sprinkled with tweets that were most likely sent while intoxicated; and if he wasn’t drunk, then I am not sure what drunk tweeting looks like. For more factual proof, the Colts’ owner has lost 70 pounds in the last two years. Not many things besides disease or drug abuse could naturally explain this massive shift in weight.

Something that I did notice during this news storm was the amount of support that was given to the owner, support that has never really been given to the players in the same league. It seems to be a common occurrence in today’s world for professional athletes to be arrested for driving under the influence, and no one ever hesitates to pile on the criticism. The topic reached its peak in 2005 when Browns’ WR Donte Stallworth was arrested after killing a man while driving under the influence. Along with penalties from the state, Stallworth received a year ban from Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Source: AP Photos

Source: AP Photos

However, after Jim Irsay’s incident, there were far less cries for punishment than the calls for support. Spanning from new columnists, to NFL coaches, to recovering addicts across the nation; it seems as though people have forgotten that Irsay was one pedestrian away from an incident just like Stallworth. I am just unsure why people were so easy to forgive Irsay, who has put himself into the same exact position as countless other athletes.

I believe that since Jim Irsay is a part of the NFL, just like any of its players, he needs to be punished like any other in the association. During his time as commissioner, Roger Goodell has been known to deal harshly with DUI issues, so he needs to set the precedent that he will follow the same punishment protocol from top to bottom. Irsay needs to be suspended from the team until he has finished his time in rehab, and randomly subjected to drug tests throughout the rest of his time as an NFL owner.

Since Jim Irsay has chosen to make himself the face of the Indianapolis Colts, he takes on the responsibilities that come with it. If he wants to be a huge voice on twitter, he needs to stop making the team look like it’s owned by a drunk. If this kind of behavior continues, the team will look less and less appealing to those players looking for a good environment to play at a high level. If Irsay continues down this path, the Colts will be just one more organization that perpetually struggles due to poor ownership.