It's easy to see when a fan base has turned from dedicated, face painted, hoarse-throat diehards into a bunch of spoiled brats. For example, the fans of the Indianapolis Colts.
After numerous division titles, countless number of wins, and a Super Bowl ring, it's clear the fans of the white and blue aren't content just to win nearly 90% of their games, they must win every single one.
Thus you have the rabid backlash of Sunday in which Colts' coach Jim Caldwell decided to pull Peyton Manning midway through the third quarter of a 15-10 game in which Indy was leading the New York Jets. The Colts ended up losing 29-15.
The outrage extended far beyond Indianapolis, spilling into remarks of former players and NFL analysts. And I can partly see their point: Jim Caldwell owes it to fans and players to end the season with a perfect record, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong.
The objective of any team in the NFL (and any other sport for that matter) is to win a championship. Yes, winning is a requirement to get there, but there's no mandate to win every game you play in order to get into the championship game (unless you're from the BCS).
What Jim Caldwell did was smart.
He gave his team the opportunity to win the game without unnecessarily risking potential injury to his star quarterback. The Colts had nothing to gain by winning Sunday, except to maintain a meaningless streak of wins that only does good as ink on an NFL record book page. After all, we remember what happened to the last team that ended the regular season undefeated.
Tony Dungy would go consecutive games at the end of seasons not playing starters. Why? Because there was no point. No gain. What happens if Sunday in the fourth quarter Peyton Manning breaks his ankle? Colts fans complain, crucify Caldwell, and begin to look forward to the playoffs with Curtis Painter leading the charge.
Then there are the people calling for refunded tickets for the game Sunday, claiming they didn't get their money's worth once Manning was pulled.
Are you kidding me? If I could get a refund for every time I went to a baseball game and a starter was scratched from the lineup for a day of rest, then I'd have a couple hundred extra bucks in my pocket. You paid for 60 minutes of football, and that's what you got.
Deal with it.
Reggie Wayne may be right: The Colts might just be the only 14-1 team in NFL history to be booed at home. And if they are, I hope they don't pull the starters from the game, but rather the ignorant fans from the stands.