Mora rebuilds Colts; Saints struggle

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 11, 1999

The saga of the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints could easily be called a tale of two football teams.

Both teams are known for their struggles in the NFL. Granted in the 1960s, the Colts were a formidable football team. They even made it to the Super Bowl twice and won one.

Since then, the Colts only successes have been during the Bert Jones years and one special season in the 1995.

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The Colts and Saints are two teams who are immediately thought of as losers in the NFL.

That may be changing for one team. The Colts have made a dramatic turnaround under the leadership of former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Mora.

Many might remember Mora as the most successful coach in Saints history. He was also known for his fiery temper and his &uot;woulda, coulda, shoulda&uot; speech after a close loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

This is the same Mora who in 19?? abruptly quit the coaching profession in midseason. Mora was disgusted with the whole situation in New Orleans.

Current Saints coach Mike Ditka was brought in to replace Mora and to lead the team to their first playoff win and the promised land called the Super Bowl.

Anyone keeping up with NFL football knows the Saints are still the doormats of the NFL and the Colts are in the thick of the playoff race in the tough AFC East division.

Why has one team suddenly found success and another continues to falter so badly?

The simple answer is players and proper personnel evaluation.

The Colts have the best trio of young talent in football. With quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James and receiver Marvin Harrison becoming superstars with each game they play together, the Colts can start believing they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

The architect for the sudden turnaround for the Colts is president Bill Polian.

Polian is known for making Super Bowl contenders of the Buffalo Bills and building the expansion Carolina Panthers. In their second year of existence, the Panthers made the playoffs and advanced to the NFC title game. They were defeated by eventual Super Bowl champions the Green Bay Packers.

With Harrison already in the fold, Polian’s magic started during the 1998 draft. The Colts drafted Peyton Manning as their top pick. Manning was picked over troublesome quarterback Ryan Leaf.

The latest NFL draft had the Colts selecting running back Edgerrin James over Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams.

The Saints mortgaged their future on getting Williams while the Colts added a vital cog to their impressive offensive machine.

Standing on the sidelines, poised to run the show, is Jim Mora. Once cast aside by Saints fans as a burned-out casualty, Mora seems to be getting the last laugh.

He is once again proving he is a good football coach and is on the sidelines where he belongs.

Don’t be surprised to see Mora coaching a team in the Super Bowl. It should be no surprise that Mora will be wearing the blue and white of the Colts instead of the black and gold of the Saints.

As for the Saints, they will be in familiar territory. They should be home for the holidays wondering what it feels like to win a playoff game.

Tim Isbell is creative director at The Democrat.