By: Bob George/BosSports.net
December 04, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH -- The NBA Draft Lottery, in existence since 1985, stinks. Ask any Celtic fan who wishes they could have seen Tim Duncan in a Celtic uniform in 1997.

But the 2011 Indianapolis Colts are showing the world why the NBA has one, and why the NFL may one day consider doing the same.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cannot possibly be happy with the cute little slogan affixed to the Colts for this season. "Suck for Luck" is the new battle cry for the winless Colts, who are on a definite mission to make up for the loss of their superstar quarterback, Peyton Manning. Manning, who has been out all season long with a neck injury which could be career-threatening, has watched his team literally plan for his replacement, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, by losing every game and thus getting the top pick in the 2012 Draft.

The Colts could keep both Manning and Luck, but there are those who believe that assuming the Colts do bring Luck on board for 2011, Manning may be simply released due to cap benefits. Some valedictory for one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game, and the best player to ever wear a Colt uniform based in the city of Indianapolis (ask the good people of Baltimore who was better, Manning or Johnny Unitas, and see what they say). But that is how things will probably go down for Manning, a product of arguably the best football family in the history of the NFL.

The Colts displayed how non-dedicated they are to winning on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, as the Patriots took a while to wake up, then watched as the Colts took the term "get on the bus" to new highs, or lows if you prefer. The Patriots had themselves a predictably easy 31-24 win over the Colts, the score as close as it was because the Patriots really didn't have to work that hard to win this game. But Goodell has to be somewhat concerned over what is really an assault on the integrity of the game, and it could bring a draft lottery into the NFL before long.

Cambridge's Patrick Ewing was the first prize of the initial NBA Draft Lottery, going to the Knicks as GM Dave DeBusschere pounded his desk in celebration. Celtic fans loved the NBA Draft Lottery early, as they wound up with the second pick of the 1986 Draft despite winning the NBA Championship a few months prior. They wound up selecting Maryland's Len Bias, seen by many as the next Larry Bird and making the Celtics a lock to continue their run of greatness alongside the Lakers, who were in their run of greatness with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It was the highest of highs the NBA had achieved up to that time.

But overall, Celtic Nation does not have good memories of the Draft Lottery. Bias celebrated his selection by the Celtics by going out with friends, and ingesting some crack cocaine. They buried him a few days later. Rick Pitino still has never gotten over not getting Duncan in 1997, and is on the record as saying that if he had known in advance he wasn't going to get Duncan, he would have never taken the Celtics job. In 2007, the Celtics were favored to get a top pick but instead selected only fifth, but they would parlay that bad fortune into trading for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, and they won the NBA Championship the following spring.

Now, if the Colts had to deal with a Draft Lottery, would they be 0-12 right now?

Getting on the bus is one thing, but what the Colts are doing is unprofessional and an injustice to those people who pay to go and see a competitive NFL game. Over the last ten years or so, the Patriots and Colts have played some of the more memorable games in the NFL. Manning and Tom Brady are to the NFL what Magic and Larry were to the NBA in 1986. The rivalry between the two quarterbacks has been a marvel to watch. Brady and the Patriots dominated for a while, now as of late it's the Colts that have been winning most of the matchups. The 2006 AFC Championship loss still ranks high as one of the more galling defeats in recent memory for the Patriots, second perhaps to the Super Bowl loss to the Giants the year following.

It is one thing to see poor planning exposed, in the case of the Colts, but it is another thing to go out and tank games just to plan for the future.

Patriot fans give the Colts no sympathy when they think of 2008. When Brady was knocked out of the season early in the season opener thanks to Kansas City's Bernard Pollard, Matt Cassel came in and led the team to an 11-5 record. They didn't make the playoffs because all five losses came against division and conference teams which wound up beating them on tiebreakers, and thus the Patriots became the first team since the 1985 Broncos to win 11 games but not make the playoffs. But the Patriots still had a great season under Cassel, and it got him a starting gig with the very team which killed off Brady's 2008 season.

The Colts, on the other hand, had Jim Sorgi for many years as Manning's backup. He was released prior to the 2010 season after missing the 2009 season with a hamstring injury. The Colts made Curtis Painter the new backup quarterback, and he showed how really bad he is when the Colts literally ended their bid in 2009 to run the table by imploding against the Jets. To make matters worse, the Colts brought in veteran Kerry Collins to begin the 2011 season instead of going with Painter.

Painter eventually had to play, and he is certainly no Jim Sorgi, and definitely no Matt Cassel. The Patriots planned much better for this emergency situation, and the Colts have literally sacrificed a season because of what happened to Manning.

Dan Orlovsky played in Sunday's game against the Patriots, and while he looked better than Painter, he certainly is no Sorgi or Cassel himself. Orlovsky looked good in spots because the Patriots simply let him play well and because the Patriot defense is still one of the worst in the league. The Patriots ought to be scolded themselves for playing down to their level of competition and literally laying down after running up a 31-3 lead. But make no mistake, the Colts had no intention to win the game. And Orlovsky, formerly of UConn, is not the answer at backup quarterback.

Not that the Colts mind. They continue to Suck for Luck, and they care not. Meanwhile, Luck awaits out in Palo Alto, California, not far from where Brady grew up, dreaming of the day when he will assume the Manning throne in the center of the Hoosier State. He won't make Manning money, he won't even make Sam Bradford money thanks to the new CBA. But he will be ready to step in and try to make the Colts relevant again, and Super Bowl worthy again.

As much as New England despises Manning, if this is how his Colt career ends, he does not deserve this. Being unceremoniously released will be a slap in the face and a brutal disrespect for his Canton-esque body of work. Manning might end up somewhere like Miami, but in the end he should get to leave Indianapolis on his own terms and nothing else. It further exposes the dark and cold side of the business of football, but in Manning's case, it is hideous, and it disrespects the game and the league, not only Manning.

Now, if the Luck-y Colts come into Foxborough in the future and get spanked by a 31-3 count (which was really what this game was like), then all of New England can have a big belly laugh. This one is simply not a laugher, and you'll hate it if a Draft Lottery is the result.


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