The Daily Illini

Column: Play for perfection

By Jon Gluskin

The questions are already being fired at him. Everyone wants to know – what is he going to do?

In the next couple of weeks Tony Dungy is going to be faced with arguably the biggest decision of his life – one that will decide this season and his legacy.

With his Indianapolis Colts sitting at 11-0, there is a distinct possibility that his team could finish the regular season undefeated at 16-0 – a feat never accomplished before.

Only the 1972 Miami Dolphins have ever gone undefeated in the regular season, but they only went 14-0.

The Colts, undoubtabely the superior team in the NFL, have unofficially locked up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and are on a fast track to the Super Bowl.

But there’s going to be a couple of regular season games before then where all eyes will be on Dungy.

When he’s been asked what he’s going to do, he’s made his point pretty clear – all he cares about is winning the Super Bowl and will do whatever it takes to give his team the best chance to do this.

Which means sitting out his playmakers, making sure nobody lays a finger on Peyton Manning or Edgerrin James, just to name a few.

It’s easy to understand why Dungy would do this. It’s difficult to grasp how he could.

One of the things that make sports so wonderful is this drive to be the best there is, be it for a season, a decade or forever.

Records and comparisons help drive sports and help to define greatness.

The Colts have a chance to define perfection and it looks like Dungy might take that away from them.

If Dungy plays his starters the rest of the season, the Colts will go undefeated and finish the year 19-0. Their offense is unstoppable and their defense – although shaky at times – has consistently done what it takes to make the big stops and prevent teams from putting points on the board when it matters most.

They’re scoring 30.1 points a game and giving up only 14.5. Even though their final five opponents – Tennessee, Jacksonville, San Diego, Seattle and Arizona -will all be playing with added incentive to be the team that prevents history from happening, none will be successful.

As confidently as I say the Colts will win out with their starters, I’m equally confident they can’t do it if Jim Sorgi is behind center.

Basic logic says to rest Manning, James, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. These guys are the reason the Colts offense embarrasses opponents.

But Dungy owes it to himself, his players, their fans and the sports world in general, to go out there and try to do something unprecedented in sports.

In professional sports, you play the games to win and do whatever you can to make sure you do. Dungy should be respectful of the game and the values of sports.

Even the Texans – who have absolutely nothing to play for (and it’d be in their best interest to lose the rest of their games and let Reggie Bush turn around their franchise) – still try their hardest to win come game day.

I know you can play the “what if” game – what if Manning gets sacked and tears his ACL? What if Dwight Freeney goes for the sack and breaks his leg?

Yes, these things could happen.

Sometimes in sports it’s worth taking your chances.

If the Colts are 14-0 and up by 21 at halftime, I have no problem if Dungy sends in his backups. If Dungy wants to give James 15 carries instead of 25, fine. I can respect that.

But at least give your team a shot to make history.

Perfection doesn’t happen everyday.

Jon Gluskin is a senior in communications. He can be reached at [email protected]

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