Monday, September 26, 2011

An Open Letter to Curtis Painter

Dear Curtis,

You've got a tough gig, I know. Being back-up to Peyton Manning for the last few years meant you really didn't have to do anything... ever. You had the cushy job of sitting on the bench and the privilege of having a front row seat, week in and week out, to the single most exciting player in the NFL. Period. I'm sure you spent a good deal of time preparing, working with the practice teams, and launching the ball during the pre-season, but no one ever expected you to actually do anything real. To really play, to really throw the ball in a real game, and to really try to lead the Colts to a win. All that lack of expectation must have been awesome. After all, no one was looking at you behind the monument that is Peyton Manning, so why would you need to try?

I get that. I also get that you must have felt a little bit slighted when, on Peyton's injury, the Colts went looking for a retired, second-rate player to lead the team. Why did they need Kerry Collins when you were there, a part of the Colts offense, and could have done it? Right? What's Collins know anyway? It's not like he's got 40,000+ career yards, or anything. I mean, really, what's the next to your 145 or so career yards, anyway?!  Maybe you were right, if that's how you felt, because just like you're no Manning, neither is Kerry Collins. And neither of you ever will be. But I felt for you. I did. Collins led us to two losses in the first two weeks, after all. Clearly, there's a reason he's retired--well, other than he's 38 years old. Then again, he's actually played the game, and scored touchdowns, and earned yards. He's a pro. But hey, so are you, right?

Then they put you in the game last night, against the Steelers. I wanted to root for you, to give you an A for effort, as a good friend of mine said. I thought, "Hey, maybe this guy deserves a chance and I'd love to see him step up." I wanted to want you, Curtis. I really, really wanted to tell that little voice in the back of my head, the one that said "there goes the game" when you came onto the field, to shut the hell up. I wanted to believe we could win with you on the field.

Then, I saw you fumble and vastly overthrow a receiver who was wide open. Wide open, Curtis! Seriously, I could have made that pass. They might as well have gone looking for a fan with a few college passes under his belt and let him play that quarter, after Collins' injury. We'd have been better off. I mean, I actually cringed, and I hate to cringe. I literally did that little cliche movement where you press your teeth together and shake your head. Unsurprisingly, when we lost, I wasn't terribly surprised. Neither was anyone else. But hey, when you make a paltry $400,000 a year, behind Peyton Manning's $20 million a year, who can expect much? I certainly don't, and let must say, I never will.