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Hurley: Colts 'AFC Finalist' Banner Is ... Just Kind Of Sad

BOSTON (CBS) -- I didn't want to write this story. I really didn't.

The Colts, frankly, don't concern me on a regular basis. I might have gotten tied up in some Patriots-Colts storylines in the past few months, like many others, but surely I'm not on the lookout for Colts happenings on most days.

So when a person tweeted a photo at me on Wednesday evening of a banner hanging from Lucas Oil Stadium's rafters, I thought, "Oh. Well. Dear. Now, that must be fake."

But somehow, impossibly it was real. Very real. Unbelievably real.

The Colts opened up their stadium Wednesday night to let fans come in and watch practice, and there, hanging high for all to see, is a banner that states with supreme confidence:

We Beat Andy Dalton And The Bengals

And Then We Beat A Broken Down, Half-Dead Peyton Manning

And Then We Lost.


We Lost By 38.

They hung a banner for that.

Great googily moogily.

Now, I'm on record as stating that the Patriots are proud owners of the most embarrassing banner in sports. That would of course be the 16-0 banner that hangs in Gillette Stadium, a white rectangle of canvas that serves as a constant reminder of the greatest disappointment in the history of team sports. Hanging a banner because you beat the Redskins in October and the Bills in November but you lost the only game that really mattered against the Giants in February is a strange, strange practice. That 16-0 banner serves only as a scar from the team that failed to finish the job. Yuck.

But you're now free, Patriots, because the Colts have got you beat. (Hey, at least they can beat you in something!)

As it turns out, the Colts have always hung these "AFC Finalist" banners. But that doesn't make it any less pathetic. If anything, the embarrassing nature of this year's loss -- when the Colts not only lost by roughly 300 points but also launched a full-scale investigation into a most minor potential infraction, thereby looking like the sorest of losers in the process -- should have inspired a change of direction.

Any owner with his head on straight would sit down at a conference table around the beginning of April and say, "Fellas, you know what? Maybe we stop printing 'AFC Finalist' banners. Just doesn't feel right."

Ah, yes, but these are Jim Irsay's Colts. It's a team that employed perhaps the worst rushing defense known to man last season, but chose to draft a wide receiver in the first round instead of addressing that glaring issue. It's a team that lost 42-20 to New England in November but apparently figured, "Eh, maybe they won't exploit our weakness for 60 minutes again?" when the playoffs rolled around.

It's a team that employs an exceptional young quarterback but nevertheless seems like it never can quite get out of its own way.

It is a team that proudly wants the world to know it was a 2014 AFC Finalist.

Irsay spoke to his team at the 50-yard line after the practice session on Wednesday night. Head coach Chuck Pagano was asked to share Irsay's message to the team.

"Just reiterate what we're chasing," Pagano relayed. "And we're chasing greatness."

"We're chasing greatness," Irsay said. While standing underneath his AFC Finalist banner.

Sometimes, words aren't necessary. So, congratulations to the Colts. I hope the parade was even more fun than the Finalist celebration back in '03. Those were the days.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here. You can email him or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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