Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Baltimore Colts Forever

I've been reading the Baltimore Sun this past week about the upcoming Ravens-Indianapolis game. And, you know, I hope the Ravens really stick it to them.

I guess I'm one of those "older folks who can't let it go." It galls me that the legacy of the Baltimore Colts is in Indianapolis. None of it belongs there, it belongs in Baltimore, the city on the harbor at the base of the Piedmont Plateau, where I grew up and lived for almost all but the last two years of my life.

When the Cleveland team became the Baltimore Ravens, I was glad that the Browns' name, memorabilia and history stayed in Cleveland, as it should. When Irsay stole the Colts, and took all their stuff with him, I was heart broken. To be honest, I lost interest in football altogether until the Ravens' Super Bowl season.

What really got me most was the callousness of the NFL to have let it happen and then to snub Charm City for over a decade. We finally got another team - but had to get it from another city. And that city was able to get another franchise in what, 2 years?

Growing up, I can remember going out to Friendship Airport to watch the team get off the plane. I faithfully watched Colts Corral on TV. In 1957-58, as a member of the Baltimore City Eastern Police Boys Club football team, I was able to attend every Colts home game. We sat on the field, leaning against the rolled-up tarps. I never missed an away game, watching it on TV.

In 1958, we played a Baltimore County team for the 120 lb. league city-county championship, which we won, during an extended half-time of a Colts game. It was an incredible feeling to be playing football on the same field, breathing the same air, being with all the fans that, like us, so identified with the Colts. After the game, I walked off the field shaking hands with Gino Marchetti, Artie Donovan and the others. Big Jim Parker, Lenny Moore, Jim Mutscheller, Raymond Berry, Johnny Unitas, these guys were all bigger than life to us 11 year old inner city boys playing on our field of dreams.

Today, every time I see those horseshoe(d) helmets and the blue and white uniforms I am transported back to those days and it's hard to suppress the memories and root against them. But, they're not "my" Colts anymore. I can't identify with them. And, I hope they never win a Super Bowl.

You can call it sour grapes. You can call it a chip on the shoulder, an inferiority complex, whatever you like. A part of me, my innocence of youth (even though I was in my mid 30's), was taken from me when the Baltimore Colts left town. So, to the detractors, to those who say - get over it, I say: Suck eggs.

Go Ravens!


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