Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

John Smallwood | All Baltimore wants is its Colt history

I'M ACTUALLY surprised it doesn't bother me that the Indianapolis Colts are in Super Bowl XLI.

I guess time does heal all wounds.

I still consider March 28, 1984 as one of the most painful days in the first half of my life.

That was the date Baltimore Colts owner Robert Irsay ripped out a piece of my heart by moving my beloved franchise to Indianapolis.

Like every Colts fan, I wanted blood. I wanted justice.

More than anything, I just wanted my football team back.

Soon enough, it became clear that the United States Army was not going to invade Indiana and that no one outside of the Baltimore region gave two crab cakes about my pain.

So I did the only thing any reasonable 18-year-old could. I transferred my love for the Baltimore Colts into undying hatred of the Indianapolis Colts.

At least, I thought I had.

Twenty-three years is a long time to hate anything.

Maybe it was the shame of Baltimore - because of a devious conspiracy orchestrated by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to deny us an expansion team - having to do what we most despised and stealing the Browns' franchise from Cleveland in 1996.

Maybe it was Irsay dying on Jan. 14, 1997 . . . or the Ravens beating the Colts in Baltimore, 38-31, in 1998 . . . or Baltimore getting the ultimate vindication on Jan. 28, 2001, when the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

For whatever reason, hate turned to acceptance and acceptance turned to indifference.

Sure, some part of me wishes Baltimore still had the white and blue, the horseshoe logo and the Colts, but I know that's not practical. Besides, Charm City is fine. It's a purple-and-black city now.

There is, however, one thing I want from Indianapolis - one thing that would close the book for good on the Baltimore Colts.

Give us our history back.

Your franchise is the Indianapolis Colts. All the stuff that happened before that miserable March morning when the franchise snuck out of town under the cover of darkness belongs to Baltimore and the men, women and children who grew up loving a team that was born in 1953 and died in 1984.

Those 31 years don't belong to Indianapolis.

No one in Baltimore complained when Cleveland retained its name, colors and history. Everyone knew it was the right thing to do. The Browns belong to Cleveland.

Baltimore deserves the same.

No matter what it says in the media guide, the Indianapolis Colts never played in the fabled sudden-death 1958 NFL championship game.

The winner of "The Greatest Game Ever Played" always will be Baltimore.

The Indianapolis Colts did not suffer the "guaranteed" loss to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. That torture at the hands of Joe Willie Namath is the exclusive property of Baltimore.

The 1970s-'80s combination of "Louisiana Lightning" – quarterback Bert Jones to receiver Roger Carr - belongs to me, not some 40-something guy sitting in the RCA Dome with a horse shoe painted on his head.

Indianapolis doesn't know the pain of "Ghost to the Post" or the pleasure of "It's Pay Day, Elway!"

The good, the bad and the ugly of the Baltimore Colts is Baltimore's.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame should not list players who never played a snap for the city of Indianapolis as members of the Indianapolis Colts franchise.

Raymond Berry, Art Donovan, John Mackey, Gino Marchetti, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker and Johnny Unitas did not establish their Hall of Fame credentials in Indianapolis. They are Baltimore Colts. None of them ever embraced being included as part of the Indianapolis legacy.

The only true Indianapolis Hall of Famer is running back Eric Dickerson. Someday, quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Marvin Harrison will join him.

The Indianapolis Colts are going to their first Super Bowl. If they win, it should be celebrated as such.

I no longer hate you, Indianapolis. You didn't kill my franchise. It simply passed away in 1984.

Still, I need closure. I can't let the Baltimore Colts ever truly rest in peace until my memories are given back. *

Send e-mail to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

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