This article appeared in the January 02, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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How one football team rebuilt itself on character

Darron Cummings/AP
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich speaks during a news conference at the NFL team's facility Jan. 1 in Indianapolis. The Colts will play the Houston Texans in an NFL wildcard playoff game on Saturday.

This weekend, something will happen that should not be happening. The Indianapolis Colts will play a National Football League playoff game.

At the start of the season, some media outlets ranked the Colts as the worst team in the league. Then the Colts won only one of their first six games. Now they’re the third team ever to make the playoffs after such a disastrous start. So what happened?

Take this comment from cornerback Quincy Wilson to The Athletic: “We talk about love a lot…. We all genuinely care about each other.” Or this from tight end Eric Ebron: “no one is selfish.” No matter who’s playing, “we trust them.”

Sports pundits talk about the importance of “intangibles.” But the word suggests these qualities are more mysterious than 40-yard dash times or weightlifting stats. Yet over and over again, the Colts confounded experts by building around players who showed not only talent but leadership, commitment to team, and a genuine love for the game. The coach is even a pastor who never swears but once engineered the biggest comeback in NFL history as a backup quarterback.

The lesson isn’t new. This year’s Boston Red Sox were very much a family. The Boston Celtics of a decade ago embraced the togetherness of “Ubuntu.” The Colts’ surprising success this season just another reminder that character is very much “tangible.”

Here are our five stories today. They include a look at one country’s unusual take on a classic “religious/secular” debate, one city’s bid to address the roots of chronic poverty, and one man who has forced his homeland to wrestle with what patriotism is.

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This article appeared in the January 02, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 01/02 edition