There is no denying how deep the rivalry runs between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots. The Patriots, as an organization, are known for biting their lip. They offer little insight into the way they think. Only a select few know what is said behind closed doors at Gillette Stadium. Thursday night at halftime, owner Robert Kraft opened the window to the public a crack.
During a halftime on-field ceremony honoring Patriots’ Hall of Famer Willie McGinest during Thursday night’s rout of the Miami Dolphins, Kraft said, “I have one more thing to add: There’s nothing more satisfying than saddling the Indianapolis Colts with a loss. And Willie McGinest was able to do that 16 times as a member of the New England Patriots.”
The rivalry between the Colts and the Patriots was sparked by the rivalry between two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. For over a decade, the debate was who was the best quarterback of their generation, maybe even all-time. Was it Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? Manning always put up incredible regular season numbers– enhanced by playing all his home games inside a dome. Brady’s regular season statistics were always a tick below Manning’s, but Brady played his home games outside in the elements of winter in New England.
While Manning put up record-setting numbers during the regular season, the Patriots owned him in the playoffs. The Colts got so frustrated that owner Jim Irsay and team president Bill Polian pressured the NFL Competitions Committee to change rules making it more difficult for defenders to cover receivers. Polian was also notorious for mispronouncing the name “Patriots” as “Patriotts.”
Peyton Manning moved on to the Denver Broncos following the 2011 season, but the rivalry between the Colts and the Patriots never waned. Andrew Luck picked up the baton and has kept the Colts relevant.
The feud between the Patriots and Colts re-ignited when the Colts alerted the NFL about the possibility that the Patriots were playing with deflated footballs during the AFC Championship game last year. The end result was the Patriots were fined $1 million. They also had a first- and fourth-round draft pick taken away from them. Oh yeah, and the NFL wanted (and still wants) to suspend Brady for four games. The worst part of the lengthy legal ordeal is the hit Tom Brady and the Patriots have taken on their legacy.
So, yeah, you can understand Kraft’s animosity against the Colts. It’s just surprising that he would actually voice his frustration in such a public fashion. Certainly, Bill Belichick would not have approved.