Her Indianapolis Colts heart literally turned black and blue then broke in August, but like a typical husband consumed with other matters, I didn’t notice until later.
Which is to say, when that Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” demeanor couldn’t have been more obvious.
My wife was once a diehard, true blue Colts backer, a season ticketholder when we met, the kind of enthusiastic fan who didn’t hesitate to curse at the TV about a dropped pass, missed tackle or turnover. Our dogs, Gabby and Zoey, can attest to, well, how the Mrs. used to be.
But she wasn’t the same after quarterback Andrew Luck retired in preseason.
Unbeknownst to him, Luck had accomplished the impossible in eventually earning the wife’s trust and admiration, which is saying something because she doubted she could ever care as much again after quarterback Peyton Manning was released in 2012.
Although Luck inspired from the outset as a rookie leading the Colts to the playoffs and a nine-win improvement to 11-5, it still took a while before the Mrs. bought a No. 12 Luck jersey to replace her previously irreplaceable No. 18 Manning jersey. After all, these transitions typically take time.
Which makes me think that maybe, however unlikely it seems now, she could transition through what happened this season and eventually return to the passionate fold.
But don’t hold your breath.
These Colts have been entertaining from the standpoint of being in every game — 10 of 11 games were decided by one score — with a couple important “W’s” also some rather discouraging “L’s.” Thank God she was working the Sunday the Colts lost at home to the, gulp, Miami Dolphins. Had she watched that, we’d never have a chance of getting her back.
Thing is, win or lose, this rollercoaster ride to 6-5 didn’t matter to the Mrs., whose once-expressive reactions had been reduced to mostly “Oh, I missed that” because her head was looking down at her iPhone. Sometimes, she’d look up at the TV and react, but with a smirk or a smile. No cheer. No profanity. Sure do miss the days of excessive profanity that sent scared dogs scurrying to the bedroom to stay safe.
That’s not to say she doesn’t care at all. If that were the case, she wouldn’t watch, right? So although she doesn’t readily admit to how much she cares, those feelings must be inside somewhere. Or so that’s theory. Or perhaps just a rationalization.
If the Colts lose Sunday’s home game against the Tennessee Titans — a pivotal matchup of 6-5 AFC teams who can’t afford a loss to stay in playoff contention — the initial reaction at our home and perhaps with many other fans is the reality that this season is kaput and there’s no need to make any more of an emotional investment, not that it’s been much lately from the better half anyway.
That’s not to say I want to see the Colts lose. A win keeps them in the playoff conversation, although the hunch is it’s going to take 10 wins to make the postseason, which means the margin for error is rather slim, and that’s just to earn the sixth and final postseason berth as a wild card. Just staying in that conversation means more fans will take the time to follow stories and videos, so from a selfish standpoint, Colts as contenders is better for business than close-the-book-on-the Colts.
It should also be pointed out that, despite Luck’s departure, the Colts looked like a vastly improved team in other areas until injuries started taking their toll. I’m convinced this would have been the best team around Luck. (Heavy sigh.)
That Darius Leonard-led defense is stronger with several promising, young players. General manager Chris Ballard has an eye for talent, which suggests he’ll keep bringing in quality additions. Head coach Frank Reich is also a likable, understated leader who has the trust of his players.
In other words, there’s a lot to like about the Colts and their future.
Whether the Mrs. will care next year, who knows? There’s no way to tell if that heart will heal, if it can trust again, if she’s still capable of summoning that old passion and energy to show some enthusiasm. Or maybe she’s been jilted too many times to walk down that aisle again. And I know she’s not alone, either.
A friend recently shared his two cents about Luck. The conversation reminded that Luck was forever compared to Manning, unfair but undoubtedly, right up to the day he walked away. The timing of that retirement just before this season began, as my friend said, couldn’t have been worse.
“You know why fans were pissed off?” he said. “Because Manning wouldn’t have done that.”
Yeah, I suppose that’s true, although Manning didn’t take the pounding that Luck did, either. Before straying and getting caught up another venting about former general manager Ryan Grigson and former head coach Chuck “Build The Monster” Pagano, let’s resist that temptation to repeat the obvious and get back on point.
When you’ve lived through an era where the Colts won a Super Bowl and were contenders each year, that proverbial bar is set rather high. Those fans who support the team no matter what, when they were 1-15 and 2-14 especially, deserve respect and admiration.
But like it or not, times are different now for some people. There are too many other distractions. There’s only so much aggravation that will be tolerated for inconsistency and underwhelming performance. That’s the way it is in our house, like it or not. Hey, there’s a lot to be learned from those baking shows, which is to my benefit.
Maybe some day, the Mrs. will fall in love again.
Maybe, that is (heavy sigh), which means once again, don’t hold your breath.