Michael Lombardi of NFL.com wrote a story today predicting the success of teams in the AFC. While he sees the Indianapolis Colts as one of two AFC teams most likely to get to the Super Bowl, his positive outlook is tempered by contract concerns.
Yet my one slight concern is that the Colts have some contract problems running rampant in their locker room — much like the Chargers – and typically those problems always seem to prevent teams winning the close games. Will these problems be enough to alter their close game record in 2010? Something tells me yes is the correct answer to that question.
One has to think that he is primarily concerned about Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Robert Mathis. He does not mention the players by name, but I think he is selling the players and the Colts’ organization short to think that the off-field financial concerns will affect the team’s on-field play.
The fact is, no organization in the NFL can live up to the professional nature of the relationship between the Colts front office and its superstars. The team has a developed history of taking good care of its best players, and it is a rather large stretch to suggest contract issues stemming from the hazy future of the collective bargaining agreement will strain the relationship between the players and the team.
An even bigger stretch, particularly for players who are looking to earn large contract extensions to finish out their careers for the only teams they have ever played for, is to suggest that they will allow their desire to earn money to negatively affect their play. Generally speaking, any time a player hopes to earn a large contract he will work harder, and is more likely to produce at career-high levels — not more likely to give up, quit, or let the team down.
Lombardi also mentions the San Diego Chargers among teams who may be negatively affected by the contract controversies, but the fact is that more is made of the contract issues by the media than is made by the organizations or players. I cannot speak for the professionalism or relationship of the Chargers front office with its players, but I am confident in saying there is a far greater likelihood that contract disputes will more likely affect players on other teams than the Colts.
Not that it necessarily affects the Colts but I also believe Lombardi is stretching a bit to insinuate that the Dolphins are the second-best team in the AFC, or at least the second most likely to make it to the Super Bowl. Bill Parcells has certainly done a great job helping the team rebuild and I think the Dolphins have a bright future, but I think it is a bit early to give Chad Henne a Super Bowl favored preview.