Tweeting with Jim Irsay: A Suite Experience

Anyone ever tell you you’re wasting your time with social media? They don’t see the value it could bring to them?

Fortunately, I’ve found tons of value by connecting daily via “social networks” focused on social collaboration, golf, football, entertainment and life. But if you still have doubt, maybe my little story about how a few Tweets led to immeasurable “ROI” with one of my greatest passions, the Indianapolis Colts.

I wrote this blog post on New Year’s Day about the Twitter engagement with fans of Colts owner Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay). But that was BEFORE I found out I had been selected as a winner of one of his contests which I had been trying to win for the previous 36 hours. Recently re-reading the post I realized I certainly wrote it assuming I wouldn’t win because of how many people were trying and how few winners were left to be announced. I still think that the blog post contributed to me being part of the final winner announcement less than 24 hours before the game, but we’ll never know, will we?

So here is my story from the point I found out I had won…until we found out the Colts had won the AFC South division and the #3 seed in the playoffs:

Fold – As the darkness arrived New Year’s day, I decided I had neglected my wife and children long enough following the fan response to @JimIrsay’s tweets and contests, trying to find ways to prove myself as a dedicated fan worthy of winning, and writing a blog post about the whole experience. I also didn’t want to be a person publishing a tweet-a-minute to draw attention to myself with little substance. So, I published my new blog post, tweeted it a few times to draw some attention, then put the mobile away and started getting the kids ready for bed and folding laundry. I stopped following the tweets. Then my phone buzzed. It was a Direct Messages from Jimmy Land (@jland23). Jimmy was a perfect stranger, but one of the first winners selected by Jim Irsay the previous day, and he and I happened to connect had been exchanging tweets the better part of Friday and Saturday:

I didn’t believe Jimmy Land, had to check and see it for myself. Low and behold, Jimmy Colt had thumbed my name on his BlackBerry! I spent the next 4 hours in shock, tweeting some more, scrambling for kid care options so my wife could join me and reworking tailgating plans and ticket plans with friends and neighbors (I already had a ticket in section 612 I was going to use for the game).

Coincidence? I think NOT! – So I get a phone call from Irsay’s representative late Saturday night to talk logistics for winning, and I knew things were going my way when she and I discovered via phone that her First, Middle and Last Name were the EXACT SAME as my 5 year old daughter’s! Are you kidding me? She informed me I would be getting TWO free tickets to the game and ONE suite pass to Jim Irsay’s suite for before the game to meet Jim with the rest of the group, but that we would be returning to our seats before the game started and watching the game from there. Sounds good to me!

PPppppppp-rrrrrrriiiiiuuussssssss with 7777777777000000001111111111111 bbbbbballlllllsssss – It was cold Sunday, especially in the shade. It was a sunny day, and when we were in the sun it didn’t feel too bad. But the Prius being offered for the Sunday 1pm giveaway was parked in front of Lucas Oil Stadium in the shade! Typing on a mobile was not easy, and obviously neither was counting the number of balls you can stuff in a Prius. I didn’t win, and I guessed “147” when the answer was “701.” I tweeted my answer before I knew the balls were not all regulation size!!!

Will Call Tweet Up – We all had to pick up our tickets and Suite passes from Will Call. One of my favorite moments of the day (again, being someone in the “social” profession) was when a bunch of complete strangers, having only shared a few tweets with one another, immediately recognized each other like they’d been friends for years. I arrived at the window and quickly was able to say, “Hey, you’re @AmyMack74! And you’re @jland23.”  It was a really cool moment thanks to the use of Twitter to allow the participants and winners to have already established their own sense of “community,” purely via the act of participating.

Pre-game Pep Talk – So we arrive at the suite, do some more meet and greets…most sounding eerily similar to “Nice to meet you Chris, what was your twitter name?  Ah, @dunkman42, of course! Great to meet you in person!”  Then Mr. Irsay came to meet us all and talk to us a bit before the game. What a great talk he gave. He covered topics about his life, from growing up knowing and learning from Johnny Unitas and Bubba Smith, lessons his late father taught him, dealing with the death of his sister, dealing with the potential pending NFL lock-out and the implications that could have on the 2012 Super Bowl that is scheduled to be here in Indy. He talked about a visit he made to Twitter headquarters in San Francisco and his meetings with their CEO as he was obviously thinking and planning ahead about how to effectively leverage their service to best engage his fan base. It must have been a good meeting, because he has done things pretty darn well in my opinion. And as a huge NFL fan, my favorite story, when at Lamar Hunt’s funeral a few years ago (deceased owner of the Chiefs), former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue put his arm around Irsay and told him “He was the last of his generation of owners. It is your time to carry on the legacy of the founders of the NFL, the people that have raised you in this league, and it is your time to now to lead us.” Of course that line is paraphrased, but that is how I heard it. Great story telling.

Another memorable moment was when he stopped everything in his tracks when a women entered the room, and gave her a hug and had a private conversation with her, and you could see she was a little shaken up. I didn’t know it at the time, but later found out she was the mother of a young man that had passed away in Iraq or Afghanistan serving our country, and he treated her to the same experience he treated us. It was a special moment for sure.

Then near the end of the talk he made a passing remark about “…when we take you guys down to the field…” and you could see the faces of each person in the room immediately light up. You mean we get to go on the field??!!?? It is only one hour before game time, there are going to be players roaming around, practice punts booming, fans looking at us jealously!  Awesome!

Field Pass -You can see most of my field experience from the photos in this album and the videos I uploaded to my YouTube channel. But the most exciting moment (no offense Mayor Ballard) was being on the field during warm-ups while Phil Collins’ song “In the Air Tonight” played.

Nobody Puts @TheBrycesWife in a Corner! Except @JimIrsay – So as all of the excitement above comes to a close, we are instructed to take our regular tickets and go watch the game from the seats associated with the free tickets we received for winning. I will never complain about free seats, but I was a little surprised to find out we were in the top row of the corner of the stadium. Thought we may get some nice seats, but cool, no biggie. My wife and I are there, having a good time, I don’t need to exercise again that evening after climbing all the stairs. And one more positive? If I stand up the entire game, nobody is going to yell at me from behind!

About one series into the game, however, my cell phone rings. It is one of Jim’s aides. He says I am welcome to use my suite pass to return and hang out, eat, drink, be merry for the rest of the game! Suite!! Dude! Sweet! Dude!!!  Oh, but I only have one Suite Pass. What is @TheBrycesWife going to do the whole time? Is a loving husband, like myself, really going to leave his wife all by her lonsesome in the stratosphere of a huge stadium just to go hang out in the owner’s suite during a division clinching Colts game?

See ya honey…meet you at the car! Zoom…

Back in the Suite – To little surprise, I returned to the suite to find many of my new friends hanging out with one another, all with a similar family abandonment story to share. “But how often to you get this opportunity?”, we all convinced each other, so we could enjoy our guilt-free game together. I know I am forgetting some of the other winners I met, so I apologize, but it was great meeting all of you: @AmyMack74, @TaxMegan, @dunkman42, @naturallysassy1, @Mr_Focker, @badtippy, @jland23, @ssimonindc, @LynnieLynn77 and @amcarter. You guys rock!

Unexpected encounter of the day? During the first half someone informed me that IRL driver Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) was also roaming around the suite with us. I had seen him in the suite, but not recognized him as Rahal until it was pointed out to me. So I didn’t think much of it. But during the 3rd quarter as I was standing watching the game, Graham and his girlfriend Katie Osborne (@ktmosborne) came up behind me and asked which of our group was the person that had requested to have a picture taken with him. Well, turns out it was @jland23, who happened to disappear for the better part of 30 minutes! So I was looking around and informed them he wasn’t around at the moment. I fully expected Graham to go back to his business and forget about us. But he didn’t. He and Katie stood and talked with myself and some of the group for the rest of the game! Most of the 3rd and 4th quarters. We talked football, racing, golf, workout methods (I was quiet during that portion of the conversation), Ohio sports (he grew up in Columbus) and more. What a great, down to earth guy for a 22 year old IRL super star. Oh yeah, and he got his ticket because AJ Foyt and Casey Irsay couldn’t make it that day! Ha.

This is @Mr_Focker and @GrahamRahal. I’m not in the picture (my batteries died!) but I am just off the left edge, I promise!!  No, really, I am. Seriously.

Really enjoyed meeting Graham and Katie. And of course as we were leaving the suite I couldn’t resist relaying to Graham as I said goodbye, “Drive Safe!”

Most importantly of all, the Colts won in dramatic fashion and we were all treated to a spectacular game, a spectacular experience and memories we’ll never forget. Thanks to everyone involved, especially Jim Irsay and the Colts organization for being so good to the fans.

Now, Go Colts, beat the Jets!!

ME2: Super Bowl Edition

Thanks for visiting ME2: Monday Enterprise 2.0…my weekly foray into exploring professional and personal topics on the tip of my mind. Notice I have re-branded already from “Monday Morning E2″ to just “Monday E2.” I’m not a morning person, and the sooner we I come to grips with that fact (including me) the smarter I’ll be.

From @TheBrycesWrite:

Game Changers

Boy did that Super Bowl take a lot out of me. So today is going to have to be short and sweet. All of my synapses are not firing correctly. So I’ll probably ask more questions as opposed to attempting to provide any answers.

In yesterday’s game there were two or three moments that could be called out as game changers…plays that completely shifted the momentum and likely the outcome of the game. Sean Payton’s decision to attempt an onside kick, and ultimately the success of that attempt, had a profound impact on Super Bowl XLIV. That was a game changer. Had the Colts gotten the ball as planned and put more points on the board, the Saints become the chasers instead of the chased. The Colts become the hunted instead of the hunters.

So to no surprise, I am in constant search for game changing ideas to create game changing moments (for the organization as well as individuals) that will generate excitement for and high adoption rates of our E2.0 / social collaboration tools. Is there such a thing as a momentum shifting game changer for efforts like mine? And how can I identify that opportunity so I can seize it and unleash it?

Quick hit ideas I need to develop include Seeing is Believing (demonstrable value), Word of Mouth (positive experience), Relieve Frustration (right place at right time), Make it Fun (completely new approach to generate interest) and Transformational (shift paradigm).  Like I said, short and sweet today. The trick is turning those concepts into something actionable, and soon. And I’ll need help from my friends to do it.

Getting Real with E2.0 – My best example from the week of people using E2.0 to generate value in the work environment:

I haven’t yet seen a better example of a group of “Potential ties” coming together to produce tangible results than what is occurring in the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council. The webinar events shared the last couple of weeks are great examples of people collaborating to collate what they have experienced or are currently experiencing as the benefits of social collaboration for large organizations. Check out “The Before” and “The After” for examples of people coming together from disparate locations to produce tangible results for the good of others.

Top Reads of the Week:

  1. Encourage the Use of Social Media at Work – Good to see this message becoming more popular instead of talk about all the traps to avoid or all the reasons not to allow employees to use social media tools at work. Even “The Office” this past Thursday poked fun at Dunder Mifflin’s new parent company coming in and blocking Twitter and the reaction it stirred in Michael Scott!
  2. Gartner Reveals 5 Social Software Predictions for 2010 and Beyond – Micro-blogging streams integrated into general activity stream is nice catch based on my limited experience with stand-alone micro-blogging communities trying to play in a larger collaborative structure. Adoption peaks at a sub-optimal level if “another place to visit.”
  3. Employees with Flex Time put in more hours – So companies can get more work out of their employees with less resentment? I’ve also heard anecdotes from other companies that have internal social networks, that they see more weekend activity in the network than they expected. Good or bad for employees? Is that a sign of improved engagement or danger of burnout? Probably some of both.

Tweets of the Week:

  1. @20Adoption – “Member @dpontefract on why Micro-Blogging is good for your company: http://bit.ly/9LmzEk #e2adoption #microblogging” – What he said.
  2. @cflanagan – “Battelle also found that watercooler allowed users to get used to E2.0 tools/ less intimidating #acweb2 /via @christyschoon-//Exactly!!” – In other words, don’t rip out all the “social.”

From @GolfinBP:

Sports Minute:

I was thrilled with the game last night right up until two coaching decisions completely shifted the momentum and significantly altered the outcome. Jim Caldwell decided to not lose, and Sean Payton decided to win.

Immediately following the goal line stand right around the 2:00 warning in the first half, the Colts got the ball back at their own 1 yard line with all three timeouts remaining. The Colts play-calling and clock management said to me “Even though we have the best 2:00 drill QB in the game, we don’t want to make a big mistake, so we are playing to run out the clock and punt.” I understand they were pinned, but it didn’t take them long to get out of the shadow of the goal line. At least throw on 3rd down there. It yelled “We are playing not to lose.” Conservative.

Sean Payton, on the other hand, made the gutsy onside kick call, playing to win. What a decision. Based on how the game was going and how it went the rest of the way, I think whichever team recovers that ball (and it was close, and who knows what happened under that pile-up) wins the game. It was that crucial. Playing to win. Aggressive.

Ball game. Season. Congrats Saints, New Orleans, Sean Payton and Drew Brees. Winter Olympics anyone?   (Note: Each time I try to type “Payton” I accidentally type “Peyton.” I am scarred.)

TV Minute:

I can’t wait to talk LOST, but not here. May to a separate post on that one. Too complicated to get into here. But my favorite scene from all the TV I watched last night happened on Big Bang Theory. BAZINGA!

Top Reads of the Week: (all Colts/NFL related in celebration of Super Bowl week)

  1. Peter King’s MMQB – My Monday staple (although I haven’t read it yet, will tonight, but always a great read.)
  2. Colts Left With Nothing – Bob Kravitz from IndyStar. I am getting depressed. Moving on.

Tweets of the Week:

  1. @golfinbp – “This is what Peyton was born to do. Drives like the one you are about to watch is what makes legend. #colts #SB44″ – Right before Peyton threw the game ending interception. Hmph.
  2. @golfinbp – “Colts D came to play! #colts #SB44″ – When the score was 10-0. Double hmph.
  3. @BrianRWagner – “http://twitpic.com/120w5y – Talk about a great pic: Drew Brees celebrating the win with son, Baylen. Have to enjoy this. Lasting memory.” – Okay, maybe not so bad the Colts lost.

Why the Colts will Find A Way

At work I am fond of saying that “conversation is like water, it will find a way.” I use it to explain that if we don’t provide sufficient collaborative capabilities for our internal employees to work with, tools that are at least partially comparable to those they can use in their personal lives, they’ll find less secure and more risky options externally. They’ll find a way to collaborate.

When studying today’s Super Bowl match up between the Colts and Saints, I can recall specific statistics, performance against similar opponents, player match ups, etc. But I keep coming back to one thing…for the better part of the last two seasons this Colts team just finds a way to win. In the last 26 games that the Colts TRIED to win, they are 25-1.

That lone loss was the playoff game at San Diego last season where the Colts lost in overtime, losing the coin toss and never touching the ball in overtime. You may also remember that the Colts had a 3rd and 2 in the 4th quarter that had they converted would have ended the game. They missed a blocking assignment on one play to seal the game, and that is their only blemish in 26 games. I also have a lot more faith in this year’s defense and special teams units than last year’s thanks to Jim Caldwell having the guts to come in and change the Defensive and Special Team coordinators to improve the team.

This entire season the team has found a way to win when it looked unlikely. Games against the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Houston Texans come to mind…where both the offense and defense came together to produce results when it counted to make an improbable come back win possible.

So I look at this game with a faith that, regardless of how the game goes during the first half, the Colts will find a way to win…yet again.

MME2: Get It! Got It! Good!

Thanks for visiting MME2: Monday Morning Enterprise 2.0…my weekly foray into exploring professional and personal topics on the tip of my mind. And don’t be confused by the “morning” branding when posts don’t appear until Monday afternoon. I promise that I was working on it on Monday morning, and at the point I post the article I am sure it will still be Monday morning somewhere.

From @TheBrycesWrite:

When we “Get It!”

As a self-proclaimed evangelist of the benefits of working transparently and collaborating in an open and connected environment, I am fascinated by stories of when people “got it.” When their understanding shift from “what a waste of time” to “this could be a game changer!”

Just last week I had the privilege of meeting with a Sr. VP here at Lilly to talk about some of the work I am doing trying to improve the adoption of and capabilities available for Enterprise 2.0- type objectives. He was already a proponent of finding improved methods for innovation and collaboration, but recent events in Haiti provided a real-life experience to strengthen his belief. You see he had family down in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, and he tried using traditional channels (government, media, etc.) to get up to date information and figure out courses of action to help them out, but wasn’t getting the information nor the results he wanted. Then he and his family turned to posting questions on Facebook, and in short order they were pointed to helpful information that helped contribute to ensuring his family members were safe. Now this wasn’t a work related incident, but he was adept enough to see how the network effects of a highly-populated social network could expedite knowledge and information to an individual faster than any of the traditional communication mediums we primarily make use of today.

My “got it” moment isn’t nearly as poetic and seems trivial in comparison…but it certainly worked for me. Last April on Sunday at the Masters Tournament Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson (both recently accused of “cheating,” although in drastically different ways) were trailing the leaders by a few strokes and were paired together! Tiger and Phil playing together in the final round of the Masters! And we were driving home from Cincinnati during the front-nine of that historic telecast! I informed my wife that she would be driving and I would be following leaderboards / blogs on my mobile during the trip – try finding golf on free radio some day. I was immediately frustrated because those resources were out of synch and I could tell they were at least 10-15 minutes behind the real action, or the blog would be 3 holes behind the leaderboard. I had a Twitter account but I rarely used it at that point…and for some reason on this trip I decided to check it out and search for some Masters-related posts…mostly because the slow blogs weren’t doing it for me. I started following about 15-20 people (mostly golf news outlets and some LPGA players tweeting while watching)…and immediately my involvement switched from frustrated to engaged in the experience. The best part was having real golfers tweeting about each shot from their personal perspective as they watched – describing Phil’s consecutive birdies, Tiger’s eagle on #8, Phil’s crazy recovery shot from the woods on #9, the two of them electrifying the golf course with a barrage of red numbers – tweeters saying “I don’t have that shot!” or “The leaders are stunned by the buzz of the crowd 5 holes ahead of them”.  And I was able to feel the emotion of it in real-time by reading tweets. I’ve been addicted to Twitter as a news/conversation source for live events ever since. Although my wife and kids in the car had a hard time relating to why I was practically jumping out of my seat just by reading short blurbs on a Blackberry.

Now how do I translate that story into getting why taking time to “share” can work in the enterprise as well? Having a Twitter-like environment within our firewall (Litter = Lilly Twitter) has provided similar experiences during internal conferences where many users are attending and posting to the backchannel (I wasn’t jumping out of my seat, but I think you get the point). I likely would have been skeptical of participating in such a backchannel had my Masters / Twitter day not served as a “Gateway Drug” to trying to replicate that experience in my work life. Today, considering myself a full convert since I’m now working on this stuff as a full-time job, my life and work experiences are enhanced because I can relate my conclusions / emotions / questions with other people. I’m more engaged in those events and those outcomes than ever before, because of a connection to the people doing the same.

So let’s see, I’ve used “Got It!” moments to realize benefits to speedy discovery, knowledge retrieval and engagement. Anyone out there looking to improve those aspects of your life and/or work? What have been your “Got It!” moments?

Getting Real with E2.0 – My best example from the week of people using E2.0 to generate value in the work environment:

For the last couple of months I have been experience significant performance issues with my work laptop. After running for only a few hours things would start going haywire and either I would have to reboot a couple times per day or it would just decide to reboot for me with no warning. I’ve been through memory upgrades, re-imaged hard drives, swapped out laptop “shells”, switching which browsers I use regularly, you name it, trying to get to the bottom of the issue with no success.

I had heard rumors that our diligent IT organization was working on a fix for the issue, but hadn’t seen any publications of when / if it would become available. Thanks to keeping up with Litter and a helpful peer posting that the patch was available in our software request system, I have installed it and so far things are much improved. Without the tool or the person’s willingness to share, I may have gone days or weeks without knowing that the patch was available, wasting who knows how many more hours in lost productivity waiting for multiple reboots per day. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that by writing this I haven’t jinxed the solution and I am now beyond the worst of my issues.

Top 3 Reads of the Week:

  1. Flexible Access: Impact of Interruptions caused by Enterprise 2.0 Technologies – Kathleen Culver:  I always like staying grounded and avoid pretending that what I work on is the nirvana of all things work. That’s why I like this post as a reminder. But like anything, I wouldn’t use this as an argument against involving yourself in E2.0 capabilities just like I wouldn’t use it as an argument to avoid email or instant messaging. Just a reminder that prioritization and discipline are important in how you work regardless of the communication mediums that surround you.
  2. Don’t Lose Yards in the E20 Super Bowl – Susan Scrupski: In honor of the Super Bowl this is an entertaining post with some valuable E20 traps thrown in for good measure. Although I have to admit I would have used “Face-Mask” to describe slide 15!
  3. What Can Facebook and Twitter Teach Us About Developing Knowledge Communities – Robert Coates:  This wasn’t written this week, but I discovered it this week, so that counts. Point #3 particularly resonates with me as people tell me about how the implementation must be targeted at specific business processes in order to work. I don’t disagree with that point, but I also don’t want to lose the creative value of people that have a flexible and capable platform to make it work for their needs without prescribing to them how it must be used. I trust in the smarts and creativity of the people that work here to discover innovative use cases.

Tweets of the Week:

  1. @20Community: “Get ready for Monday Morning Enterprise 2.0 by Bryce Williams #e2adoption http://su.pr/5Wmg5T” – Thanks! I come up with an idea and write a post about it, and all of a sudden it’s being advertised. There goes that Twitter thing again.
  2. @humanfireplace: “If you don’t have time to read Enterprise2.0 and how it’s reshaping our business, listen to this short podcast: http://bit.ly/5H8ab2” – I certainly recommend the book but realize not everyone has time to read every book somebody else recommends. This could be a good resource to reference as an evangelist.
  3. @20Adoption: “1st of a 4-part webinar series Slide deck now online: http://bit.ly/dA9Jxe #acweb1” – As a member of the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council, this was a cool event because I got to hear some friends do a bang up presentation and at the same time see some great conversation on Twitter about the event as well. Nice job team!

From @GolfinBP:

Sports Minute:

This is the ultimate sports week for me being a huge Colts fan and Super Bowl XLIV (that’s #SB44 for the Roman Numeral impaired) quickly approaching. I was lucky enough (Thanks Toni!) to attend both home AFC Championship games (New England 2007, New York Jets 2010). I am actually more excited about this Super Bowl than when the Colts one their first (as the Indianapolis Colts) 3 years ago. That season the big pinnacle moment was the AFC Championship game when Peyton and the Colts finally overcame their painful losses against Tom Brady’s Patriots. Because of the significance and exciting nature of that win over New England, the Super Bowl vs. Chicago almost felt like a consolation game (sorry Bears fans, it was just how it felt). That and the fact that I had a 4 week old baby boy and a 21 month old daughter at the time. Things were still a bit fuzzy for us with the lack of sleep, all the diapers and all the puking. The kids weren’t easy either.

But now the Colts are where they are supposed to be. When Polian initiated ColtsGate…which I still hole-heartedly support as the right decision as I wrote (sort of) in my blog post…it became Super Bowl or bust for the fans. And now they are here, 60 minutes from earning another Super Bowl trophy that will hopefully be the pinnacle of the playoff run and one that I’ll be rested enough to remember this time!

TV Minute:

As if this week wasn’t exciting enough with the approaching Super Bowl, but ABC decided to premiere the FINAL SEASON of the most addicting television series I have ever watched…LOST. I’m not going to get into the business of trying to predict what will happen, but I will be living up every minute of it…and if anyone tries to talk to me or make noise during any of the episodes, I’ll be rewinding, pausing, cranking up the volume until they get the hint! I won’t miss a word, a reveal or an explanation as to what every mystery, weird happening or relationship twist meant throughout the entire arc of the show. And I know DVR is great, but I am not taking any chances and waiting until the next day to watch. If I have to stay up until 2AM to see the full episode, I will.

I get excited when new TV content is available for my favorite shows, but I also dread it. My 4 DVR tuners will be recording about 10 hours of television on Monday and Tuesday evenings alone (24, House, HIMYM, Big Bang, Two and a Half Men, Heroes, LOST, LOST, LOST, American Idol). That’s a plethora of entertainment and a burden on my mind at the same time. This is going to be another week of little sleep because I dare not watch that stuff while my kids are still awake. Plus, I have to watch every minute of NFL Network coverage of the Colts media day on Tuesday!  Oof.

Top 3 Reads of the Week: (all Colts/NFL related in celebration of Super Bowl week)

  1. Tuesday Morning Quaterback – Gregg Easterbrook from ESPN: My favorite part was the analysis of how Jack Bauer from 24 must be at least 60 years old by now.
  2. NFL Hangover – DJ Gallo from ESPN: My favorite article every week with the quotes / pictures at the bottom. Laugh out loud funny.
  3. Jim Irsay turned team plagued by instability into model franchise – Mike Chappell from IndyStar: The Colts are lucky to have 3 people to look up to when stepping back to admire the consistent success they have had: Manning, Polian and Irsay.

Tweets of the Week:

  1. @NFLfootballinfo: “All Decade team: QBs-Manning,Brady. RBs-Alexander,Lewis, James,Tomlinson. WRs-Harrison,Holt,Moss,Owens” – The triplets live again! QB Peyton Manning, RB Edgerrin James, WR Marvin Harrison. Only Peyton remains on the team this year, but a testament to the sustained excellence of the Colts for the last 10 seasons AND their ability to replace top-level talent to remain competitive.
  2. @MoveTheSticks: “Haven’t seen one play of the pro bowl. My 2 year old son requested a mickey mouse clubhouse marathon and I obliged. No brainer.” – Been there, done that. “It’s the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! Come inside, it’s fun inside!” The recent obsession though is Chuggington.
  3. @stewartcink: “Packing up for my trip to Northern Trust Open tomorrow. Should I give my ‘new’ lob wedge a try? http://twitpic.com/10rj6s” – I can’t believe the fuss over 20 year old clubs because of the shape of the grooves. Just hit the ball and get it in the hole! If Phil and Stewart want to play a club built 20 years ago with all the “advances” in golf technology…why are people whining that they have an unfair advantage? “Boss, I think if I downgrade my poorly performing laptop to Windows 3.1 I’ll start running circles around everyone else here!”

ColtsGate

I decided to not write anything about the Colts / Jets game until after a few days of letting the experience settle in a bit. But I have certainly read my fair share of analysis and reaction the past couple of days and I stand perfectly on the fence, continually rocking back and forth not being able to tell if I like or dislike what transpired.

To make my obligatory Enterprise 2.0 association in this post…I think the voices that the Colts brass are hearing from fans via various channels, clamoring that their opinion on going for 16-0 should have been considered…is something Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell did not anticipate. They obviously are not privy to the shift in People 2.0’s communication expectations from informed to consulted. Engagement and customer satisfaction are no longer just predicated on performance, but a willingness to accept and at a minimum acknowledge the views of the crowd, particularly a crowd that you depend on so much to exist ($$$$). This is another example of old-school thinkers not realizing the impact of ignoring this paradigm shift until it is too late and as a result having to face quite a bit of scrutiny.  And as much as they want to ask fans to move on…this isn’t going away until they win the first playoff game.

Now back to football….

Why I didn’t like it:

As a fan watching the game live, I hated every second of it, and I didn’t even pay to see the game, I was just watching from the comfy confines of couches and HD. Yet even yesterday, more than 24 hours after the game, my wife said I still seemed grumpy while we were at Chuck E Cheese celebrating my son’s 3rd birthday with family. So I guess if I can’t be cheerful then, I really must not have liked it.

One bit of analysis/reaction to Sunday that I haven’t read yet, the lack of execution in the first 2.5 quarters that made Jim’s decision that much more painful. Putting myself in Jim Caldwell’s shoes as a coach that expects high levels of execution from his extremely efficient team, there were 3 plays in that game that could have made Jim’s life a lot easier while making the exact same decision:

  1. The blocked extra point after the first touchdown of the game actually ended up costing the Colts 2 points, not just 1 point. This is because the Colts later attempted a 2 pt conversion to make up for the miss and didn’t convert. Adjusted score at #ColtsGate: 17-10
  2. The Colts have been among the best teams this season at turning red zone opportunities into touchdowns. In the 2nd quarter they had to settle for a short field goal after getting into the red zone. You’ll recall the close call between Peyton and Reggie which is a catch we have seen Reggie make before (last season at Houston comes to mind). So not converting there cost the Colts 4 points. Adjusted score at #ColtsGate: 21-10
  3. I bet that kickoff return to start the 2nd half really honked off Caldwell and Peyton and here is why: Caldwell had told Peyton at halftime (I am speculating), “You’ll get one more series to turn this 6 point lead into a 9 to 14 point lead, two scores…then we’re resting you. So make it count.” Then immediately after kick-off, boom, that two-score lead is out the window. Had the Colts coverage team held, I would wager the best the Jets could have done there with starters still playing defense and not completely deflated from resting Peyton would have been a field goal. Another 4 points in the Jets favor. Adjusted score at #ColtsGate: 21-6

So how would we be reacting differently to #ColtsGate if they had pulled Peyton and the gang with a 15 point lead and just the 4th quarter to play instead of a 5 point lead (less time remaining because of a more sustained Jets opening drive instead of a kick-off return)? How much more would the crowd have supported Painter audibly instead of, as my wife says, putting negative thoughts into the universe? How much more conservative would the Colts play calling have been with a kill the clock mindset instead of trying to throw from inside their own 20 (likely avoiding the sack/fumble/TD sequence)?

Now I am not one to believe in what if’s, but it just goes to show how football is such a game of inches and how every play counts and how the impact of an inch here and an inch there completely changes the perspective of a decision.

Why I Do Like It:

On the other hand, there is still hope for a successful playoff run and the reality that the Colts are two home wins away from playing in the Super Bowl. I can’t imagine how grumpy I would have been yesterday had Peyton gotten hurt during the game and we were facing the reality of a Divisional Round game with Curtis “Blank Canvas” Painter. So from that side of the argument, I can’t fault the team for realizing that their greatest asset is going to win them games, not this imaginary concept of momentum or “mojo.”

But I do know if the Colts show up to their Division Round playoff game on Jan 16 or Jan 17 and lose, this decision will never be forgiven and Jim and Bill will never hear the end of it. So that one game will have a ton of pressure. The AFC championship game would be less impacted by resting players and more about who played the better game, although I am sure the really bitter followers would still blame a loss on losing momentum by resting, particularly if the fall behind early in that game. But if they make it to the Super Bowl and lose, there is no way you can blame that loss on resting starters, especially with an extra week between the Championship games and the Super Bowl.  So I’ll deduce that this decision really only matters for 1.5 playoff games, then doesn’t matter any more.

Looking at history, it is hard to conclude that historically resting has had a direct impact on their one and done playoff losses.  They rested in 2005 prior to the Pittsburgh playoff game and lost, but they also experienced the tragic death of Tony Dungy’s son during that period as well. Then in 2007 they rested and lost their first game at home to San Diego, but they were playing without Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis AND Marvin Harrison tried to play after being out for 3 months and fumbled following his first catch. And they actually came out of the gate really fast in that came (what rust?) and had momentum until Marvin’s fumble.

I am very glad (reviewing that history) knowing this year that the Colts 6 pro bowlers (Manning, Wayne, Clark, Saturday, Freeney, Mathis) will be healthy for the playoffs, and I think that combination will probably overcome any rust factor from resting. But will all this media attention of purposely disrespecting NFL history be distraction enough to throw things off?  Even if they do win the Super Bowl, will the immediate reaction be “Colts make right decision to stay healthy for Super Bowl win!” OR “Colts win Super Bowl and willingly gave up 19-0″????  Only time will tell.

But oh how much fun would watching history have been?  It will be bittersweet all the way through…watching the healthy stars giving it their best…3 weeks from now.  Sigh.