INDIANAPOLIS – Trent Cole has reached the point where the career clock is ticking louder and louder.After 10 years with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cole signed a deal to play outside linebacker with the Indianapolis Colts. The money's good, no question. Two years, $16 million. But the motivation doesn't start at the bank.
At 32, Cole knows the reality. It's as obvious as the empty locker in the corner of the Colts' locker room, where Reggie Wayne dressed for seemingly forever.
NFL time waits for no one, and Super Bowl chances grow fewer and fewer.“A guy in my situation, I want to win a Super Bowl, and that kind of scares you,” Cole said Wednesday in the Colts' practice facility locker room. “You know that doors are closing because you've been in the league for so long. You know that time is going to come near, but you don't know when. You keep playing until your body tells you to stop, so you make sure you play hard, play harder. It just drives you. I live it. I feed off it.”
Cole wants to hold that Lombardi Trophy. He knows what stands in the way, too, as he referenced the desire to beat the New England Patriots. He even described the Colts' feelings toward the Patriots hatred. Maybe that's strong. But the Patriots have what the Colts want, what veterans such as Cole and new Colts Frank Gore and Andre Johnson want.
The image of NFL players as mercenaries, out to make as much money as they can, loyalty to a single team being irrelevant, is exaggerated. Of course, they want to make as much as they can in a relatively short time. Who wouldn't?
Yet deep down, they want to leave the game with a championship to look back on.
Cole pointed to his former defensive teammates with the Eagles – Darren Howard, Hollis Thomas and Lito Sheppard – and how they have urged him to pursue that championship, even if it meant leaving the only team he had played for in the NFL.
“They tell me, 'Go try to win a Super Bowl for us,' ” Cole said. “That's the thing you talk about, leaving the game without getting the big one. That's the reason you go out and play so hard. You want to be an impact for the team, an example for the team, be a leader.”
Cole has had his share of success. He's been to two Pro Bowls and has had four seasons in double figures in sacks, with 12.5 in 2007 and 2009. He has 85.5 career sacks.
But he has no rings. While he could have signed with a number of teams, he chose the Colts in part because of how they're on the verge of contending for a Super Bowl.
“It's exciting,” Cole said. “New is always exciting. I'm glad to be here, glad to be with a winning team and excited about the future here. These guys are focused.
“There's a lot of energy here to win ballgames, especially to beat the Patriots,” Cole said.
To beat the Patriots, the Colts must be able to stop the run, one of the areas of emphasis that signing Cole is intended to help. They'll need to pressure Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, too, so Cole can help there.
Cole needs to be an upgrade on the Colts defense, and his urgency to win should help meet those expectations.
“I've been on successful teams before with Andy Reid, we've been to championships,” Cole said. “That hurts, when you go and lose that championship. That hurts. Being there two different times and losingâ »You prepare the next year and work harder. I do what I have to do to make sure I do my part to be a teammate, make sure I'm not the weak link. Make sure I'm an impact, not a problem.”
The career clock is ticking, and it has Cole picking up the pace.
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