INDIANAPOLIS—The Indianapolis Colts, after building a perfect 12-0 record so far this season and expecting perhaps only the Seattle Seahawks to pose a major challenge before the playoffs, were shocked and outraged by Tuesday's announcement from NFL head offices that their opponent this Sunday would not be the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the NFL's most explosive and unpredictable franchise: pro football's Harlem Globetrotters.
"This is insane," head coach Tony Dungy told reporters at a press conference. "We are within striking distance of becoming the first non-Globetrotter football team to complete an undefeated season, and the NFL pulls this stunt. I intend to appeal this scheduling change before those barnstorming clowns have a chance to make my team look like a bunch of idiots on national television."
Since entering the NFL in the 1976 expansion, the Globetrotter football team has posted a 449-0-1 record, which analysts agree is due in part to their freewheeling, rule-bending, and vastly entertaining style of play, and also in part to their facing the same traditional and hapless opponent, the New York Jets, almost every Sunday. The showdown with the Colts, who will play host in the RCA Dome this Sunday at 1 p.m., will mark the first time since 1998 that the Globetrotters have traveled out of the New York area, a trip the players are looking forward to.
"I can't wait to square off against the MVP, Mister QB, that Sean Salisbury-lookin' tater head… What's his name? Oh, yeah—Peyton Manning," said Curtis "King Licketysplit" Williams, the Globetrotter quarterback and the NFL's all-time leader in behind-the-back passing yards, passing touchdowns, funky breakdowns, and smoothness from scrimmage. "Our anticipation of the situation is pure contemplation of domination, baby. We're going to win that game, and when we do it, it won't be anything like boring. The Colts are good, the Colts can score, but they ain't seen nothing like us before."
Although the Colts boast a powerful offense, with Manning coordinating Pro Bowlers Edgerrin James at running back and Marvin Harrison at wideout and receivers Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and Bryan Fletcher continuing to emerge, defense is somewhat less of a strong point for Indianapolis.
"I really don't think the Colts can contain a Globetrotter attack led by King Licketysplit, especially when he's throwing to speedster Chester 'Five-Borough' Jenkins, unpredictable catch-master Terry 'Twinkletoes' Holmes, and utility tight end The Honorable-Awfulable Samson," said ESPN football analyst John Clayton. "And let's not forget that all-world running back Walter 'Snazzy Wiggles' Malone is the current leader in yards per strut, and has run for a thousand yards on a single carry four times this season, scoring twice. I'm seeing another blowout in the making."
Williams agreed with Clayton's assessment. "I have been watching me some game film in between looking sexy," Williams said. "And I noticed a weakness in their defense. That Dwight Freeney? Big, fast, powerful defensive end? Well—he is also a jive turkey."
"Jive… Ass… Turkey," added Williams.
The Globetrotters' defense is, likewise, not the team's main strength, but Indianapolis coaches insisted that they would not underestimate the Harlem scheme.
"It's true they tend to let their opponent hang in there, scoring just enough to make the game interesting," said Colts defensive coordinator Ron Meeks. "They usually win in the fourth quarter, and although they win by an average of 23 points, it's almost always a one-score game with 10 minutes to go. If we can contain their tricky Human Cannonball Blitz, penetrate their ingenious Linebacker Pyramid run defense, and interrupt their insidious pattern of combined referee depantsing and flagrant pass interference, we know we can play them close."
"Man, Ron Meeks is preaching to the choir and holdin' his hymnal upside-down," said Globetrotter head coach Booby "The Love Enormous" Woods. "We got the strongest front four in the solar system. I don't expect Davy Gravy, Chuckie 'Dump Dump' Dempsey, Wilbert 'Chocolate Supernova' Willis, John Stapleton III, and Anthony 'Human Ditch' Reynolds to let that No. 32 [James] get more than a couple yards before they smack the confetti right out of his bucket. If they go to the pass, Injurious Jameson and Billy 'Ham Shank' Williams try and activate Peyton's dental plan while Sweet Carob Washington and Godfrey 'Godfather Trilogy' Whittaker cover their receivers. They usually cover them with flour sacks, silly string, banana cream pies, spray cheese, soap suds, all kinds of embarrassing nonsense. We're going to give them their 'props,' all right."
For their part, the Indianapolis players are not backing down from the sudden and unexpected challenge, asking only that NFL officials, often accused of blatantly favoring the Globetrotters, give them a fair and even game.
"Harlem has a good team," said Manning, who refused to respond to the Globetrotters' taunts and was unable to think of any of his own. "For instance, I respect their ability to spin the football on their fingers instead of carrying it in the traditional way. But it's unfair for the refs to allow, for instance, their receivers to score an extra point by jumping through the uprights after a touchdown reception. Linebackers should not be allowed to trampoline, parachute, or bungee-jump into the backfield. Trained monkeys, unicycling go-go girls, and Earth, Wind, And Fire have no place on a football field, let alone being a pivotal part of a team's game plan. And I know I'll get fined for saying this, but if a referee's hat is pulled down over his eyes, it should not take him 90 seconds to pull it back up again."
"I mean, at least fine them for celebrating," Manning added. "Frankly, it's unbelievable what people let the Globetrotters get away with."