Friday, November 04, 2005

Belichick Adds Spurrier To Staff For Monday's Game

After endless frustration in previous trips to New England, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning looks to break through with a victory over the Patriots on Monday night.  New England head coach Bill Belichick always seems to have an answer for Manning, and today he unveiled another ace in the hole.  Belichick signed South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier to a one-game contract, adding him to the staff for Monday’s showdown.


If past history is thrown out the window, all signs point to a Colts victory.  Indianapolis is the lone unbeaten NFL team, while the Patriots have endured an inconsistent 4–3 start.  Most notably, the Colts’ previously shaky defense has excelled, led by sack monsters Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney.


However, the dominant story leading up to this contest has been Manning’s complete lack of success in Foxborough.  The superstar quarterback is 0–7 in New England, punctuated by playoff losses in each of the last two seasons.  Manning dazzled football fans with a record-setting season in 2004, but the historic campaign both began and ended with a loss in Gillette Stadium.  His only consolation thus far is that his credit card commercials are much funnier than Tom Brady’s.


Perhaps sensing that the odds were finally turning against the Super Bowl champs, Belichick looked to another Manning nemesis for assistance.  Spurrier’s Florida powerhouses defeated Tennessee in all four years of Manning’s college career.  The frustration did not end there.  In 2002, the Colts lost to Spurrier’s Washington Redskins – a very difficult feat to accomplish.  Just last Saturday, with Manning on a bye week and in Knoxville to see his jersey retired, the Old Ball Coach struck again as his Gamecocks shocked the favored Volunteers.


Many observers were surprised that Spurrier would accept such an assignment, coming five days before the much-anticipated Florida-South Carolina matchup in Columbia.  However, he plans to hold Monday’s practice as scheduled before flying to Massachusetts.  He will return immediately after the game.  Spurrier will have three major responsibilities on the New England sideline.  First, he will heckle Colts defensive tackle and Florida State product Corey Simon: “Hey Corey, where can I get some free shoes?”  Second, he will taunt Manning with his own accomplishments: “Peyton, how does this national championship ring look on my finger?  Wanna come over to my house and see my Heisman?”  Third, he will throw his visor very hard if steps one and two fail.


Indeed, to achieve a breakthrough victory, Manning will have numerous historical obstacles to overcome.  One more has emerged as Indianapolis looks to remain undefeated.  Spurrier’s salary for the game is being paid by the 1972 Miami Dolphins.