Twas the night before Christmas, because I’m typically guilty of waiting until the last minute to buy presents.
Here’s my gift list for many of the Colts (I didn’t win Powerball, so it can’t be everybody). Merry Christmas to all and thanks to the guys for making this NFL season an unforgettable ride.
Head coach Chuck Pagano — Just the wish for healthy check-ups the rest of your days. No more leukemia, just lots of great memories with Tina and your girls, so much more meaningful football and, of course, years of insightful chats with the media as we analyze and criticize every last detail. Isn’t that the best part of the job? Since that’s more of a wish than a gift and I have to get you something, I’ll agree to trade my chicken enchilada recipe for your Italian spaghetti and meatballs recipe. You know how to reach me. ChuckStrong.
GM Ryan Grigson — How about a family pass for a day at Cedar Point? You’ve got so many kids, I’m guessing you don’t get enough time to do things during the regular season, and I can vouch from years of making that trek to Sandusky, Ohio, that your kids will love it. The roller coasters are the best, but there’s plenty of other things to do.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians (formerly interim coach) — He’s probably going to get an offer to be head coach somewhere else, so let’s stick with a gift that relates to his time back in Indy, a blue ChuckStrong bracelet to remember this season. B.A. likes those stylish hats, too, and since I’m going to that store for another player (see Bethea), we’ll throw in one of those smallish hats.
QB Andrew Luck — The initial thought was a hyperbaric chamber to help those bumps and bruises heal more quickly, but those are expensive. It’s not like the bank account can afford that. The Mrs. bought a No. 12 Luck jersey this season, but she would question this purchase for sure. So we’ll settle for a water foot massage kit. Yeah, I know, cheesy. Grigson will fork out the money for an upgraded offensive line, so you have more time to throw next season. This massage kit will take care of the feet, so you can still show those wheels when necessary.
WR Reggie Wayne — The best gloves money can buy. Not football gloves, mind you, but the stylish kind when you are out and about, especially during the colder months. “Weezy,” you’ve got two of the best hands in football. Got to take care of them. At 34, you’re not showing any signs of slowing down. Thank God.
OLB Dwight Freeney — He’ll get a new contract, presumably elsewhere, which bums me out, to be honest. As a parting gift, how about a framed picture of him beating Baltimore OT Jonathan Ogden in that memorable 2004 prime-time matchup. “Free” had two sacks and numerous pressures in a dominant performance against one of the best tackles in the game.
P Pat McAfee — Again, Grigson should handle the business end by giving “Boomstick” a new contract. After wrestling with this, and almost going with some snazzy fluorescent swimming trunks, I settled on something simple, 150,000 more Twitter followers to get Mac over 1 million. It’s only a matter of time, right, Pat? Retweet, retweet, retweet @PatMcAfeeShow. I’ll start the campaign, here and now.
PK Adam Vinatieri — I’d like to give Tiger Woods’ autograph to add to Adam’s expansive collection, but I’m guessing El Tigre probably wouldn’t oblige if the request came from a sports writer. So we’ll settle for a one-day pass to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. For years, you’ve rolled your eyes when I’ve mentioned how you will be inducted and have your bronze bust added one day, which is a big deal because there’s only one pure kicker in there, Jan Stenerud. A one-day pass will let you get a feel for the place, I’m thinking, so you know your way around when that induction day comes, hopefully many years down the road.
ILB Pat Angerer — Anything to get that right foot fixed, I’m all for it. Because another surgery would blow my budget, we’ll settle for something simple: a new bowling ball. Yeah, a bit out there, but Angerer is a blast when he hits the lanes. Never hurts to have decent equipment. Time to call my buddy, bowling Hall of Famer Mike Aulby, for advice on the best buy.
LT Anthony Castonzo — The best cookbook I can find. Chef Castonzo, you pride yourself in culinary kitchen endeavors. This should provide several new recipes to try. And OT Ben Ijalana will be taste tester, as usual.
C Samson Satele — My stylist Gary, the man who makes me blonde, will be compensated for a Satele visit to the salon chair. Since you’re always teasing me about my hair, Mr. Ponytail, here’s a trip to a professional to take care of your long locks. Don’t worry, you’re in good hands.
S Antoine Bethea — A new hat. Looking at that bright, colorful Miami hat with palm trees on it the other day gave me this idea. Something classy, since ‘Toine has definitely upgraded his wardrobe and has been styling since the early days when he was just happy to be here.
DE Cory Redding — The defense’s vocal leader is loud and clear when making his point. To ensure the 10th-year pro remembers his time in Indy, he gets a blue Colts megaphone. One side has “ChuckStrong” and the other “Captain.”
RT Winston Justice — A difficult guy to find the ideal gift, since you’re so quiet. We’ll take a shot at some Bose headphones, so you can stay in your own little world without interruption while listening to music. Have a pair myself, Christmas gift from my doc bro a year ago. Sound quality is excellent.
OLB Robert Mathis — A new cell phone. Just came up with this after seeing the small thing you were using in the locker room the other day. Time for an iPhone. Then again, maybe owner Jim Irsay will buy all of the guys iPhones. The boss has been known to be generous.
TE Dwayne Allen — One of the best interviews on the team should get a local TV deal. I’ll call my friends at Fox-59, Chris Hagan and Jeremiah Johnson. There’s always room for a refreshingly honest NFL player.
TE Coby Fleener — McAfee suggested a new TD dance. Funny guy. While the “Jackhammer” at Detroit was cause for much needling, it was thoughtful that you accepted a Twitter video suggestion from two brothers to make that first NFL TD a special memory. I’m thinking I need to call the “Fleener Jackhammer Brothers,” Alex and Andrew Knight. They live near Orlando, Fla. Yep, a one-day pass to Walt Disney World sounds about right. The Knights can meet you at the park. I’m guessing they would spring for lunch.
RB Vick Ballard — You’re so humble, this one is probably the most difficult. You’re never in awe of the players you go up against. You have a locker in between Luck and Wayne, which means understanding when those guys are talking and not trying to get to your space with so many reporters standing there. We’ll go with some sunglasses, so you always keeps it cool.
RG Mike McGlynn — Nobody has had more fun needling me on this team, which means the gift must be special. After much consideration, I’m sending you a Colts cornhole bean-bag toss game. Every time we watched you play in the locker room, you were taking money from somebody. Having your own cornhole set-up should enable you to turn pro throwing those bean bags. Yeah, I know. You’re already a pro.
LS Matt Overton — It’s got to be a chew toy for your dog, Cooper, a lap-pit bull mix. Something real big, too, since you like to take long road trips. Got to keep Cooper occupied.
OG Seth Olsen — No-brainer here. A gift certificate to Blue Sushi in Omaha, Neb., since you gave Overton such a hard time about proclaiming this place had the best sushi in the country. You’re from Omaha, so you should know how to find the place. If not, ask Overton. Remember, Matt says to try the Husker Roll.
WR T.Y. Hilton — You’ve already got the “T.Y.” TD celebration down, so how about the “T.Y. Towel,” something for fans to wave back at you when you’re scoring touchdowns.
WR LaVon Brazill — We’ve yet to see your “cooking” TD celebration dance, so a spot on a cooking show would be ideal. But you told me a while back about how you love to run on the beach. So you get the colorful swim suit I thought about for McAfee. You’ve already said, “No” to a Speedo, so we’ll go with trunks, but the colors must be bright, LaVon.
C A.Q. Shipley — A bright “A.Q.” neon sign to hang in your locker. McAfee said if/when he gets a new contract, he’s going to give his locker some “bling.” Since you’re next to “Boomstick,” the sign will give you a head start.
LG Joe Reitz — The local guy made it in the NFL with his hometown team, so I’ll call my buddy Pacers coach Frank Vogel. You were once a basketball player at Western Michigan, so I’m guessing you would appreciate some back-stage access to a Pacers NBA game, meet the players and chat with coach, an all-time great guy.
LB Mario Harvey — A Jerry Brown Colts jersey, something to always remember your departed friend and neighbor.
LB Moise Fokou — A fishing rod and reel, something retired professional Bill Dance would recommend, since you enjoy angling. Good luck landing that big catch.
WR Donnie Avery — A glass case for the football you caught for Luck’s first NFL TD pass. It should be worth something some day.
RB Delone Carter — A snowcone machine. Inside joke, hopefully worth a laugh.
ILB Jerrell Freeman — What do you get for a guy who survived Saskatchewan for three Canadian Football League seasons? You’ve already got plenty of winter gear. Can’t go wrong with a North Face gift certificate. You know best how to use it.
CB Jerraud Powers — We don’t know if we’ll see you in a Colts uniform again, and you’ve been one of the best talkers in four years here. “JPeezy” gets my Olympus digital recorder, so you can record your best quotes “and whatnot.” Sorry, inside joke there about the word you always use.
Owner Jim Irsay — What to do for the guy who has everything? Actually, the Mrs. found a great gift for our nephew, who is learning to play the guitar. Since you also love to strum, how about this same pick maker? You can make your own, even personalize them, which can be kind of cool. Still have one from Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, when he threw it at me at The Vogue so many years ago.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks, as always, to the fans for reminding me of my daily motivation.