Indianapolis Colts

Sun, 26 Oct 2008 18:33

The history of the Indianapolis Colts

About the NFL team Indianapolis Colts.

The Indianapolis Colts, a professional American football team, have relocated from Baltimore in 1984 and are now based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts are part of the American Football Conference under the South Division in the National Football League (NFL). The team has a record of five NFL Championships and two Super Bowl titles, which includes the recent 2006 Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears.

Since the team moved to Indianapolis from Baltimore, they started winning 90 of 228 games of the 1997 season, which included five playoffs. After the death of Robert Irsay, his son Jim Irsay took over the team that garnered the first record in league history that won 12 games or more in five continuous seasons.

The birth of the Indianapolis Colts

In 1953, prior to its relocation to Indianapolis, the team was based in Baltimore led by Carroll Rosenbloom, having been awarded the new Baltimore franchise or remains of the Dallas Texans. The Texans started in 1944 as Boston Yanks and merged with an NFL original team -- Brooklyn Tigers, which was formerly known as Dayton Triangles and was founded in 1910. The merger was undertaken before the team moved to New York in 1949 as the Bulldogs. In 1950, the team took up the name Yanks, where many of the players of the All American Football Conference team New York Yankees joined the team. After the season in 1951, the Yanks moved to Dallas. The team, however, played two of their final home games at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio during the 1952 season. The NFL considers the Texans and the Colts as different teams but share the same team colors.

In NFL history, the Colts were the first team to have cheerleaders. The old Colts’ marching band and fan club, presently under the name of Baltimore’s Marching Ravens, have been adopted by the new franchise.

Coach Weeb Ewbank led the team in 1958 where quarterback Johnny Unitas beat the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium with 23-17 during the NFL Championship game. This game is the first to utilize the overtime rule and is considered as one of the greatest competitions in professional football history.

Beating the Giants in 1959, the Colts finished with a 31-16 record and pursued an elite status in the NFL in the 1960s. They however lost the NFL championship game to the Cleveland Browns with a 27-0 record in 1964.

The 1968 season is a 13-1 season for the Colts, having garnered a gauge of reprisal with a 34-0 score against the Browns in the NFL Championship games. This magnificent Championship game led the media to call the Colts as “the greatest pro football team of all time." The Colts played in Super Bowl III, which was the first to be officially called Super Bowl, against the New York Jets of the American Football League.

The result of the game, however, surprised many of the sports media as the Jets led by Joe Namath and Matt Snell took the World Championship with a 16-7 record over the NFL’s Colts. The Jets at this time was coached by Weeb Ewbank, who was once the coach of the Colts during their first two NFL titles.

Rosenbloom, Modell of the Browns, and Rooney of the Steelers decided to let their teams join the ten AFL teams in the AFC to comply to the AFL-NFL merger before the 1970 season. Coach Don McCafferty led the team to an 11-2-1 regular season record, grabbing the AFC East title. The first round of the NFL Playoffs saw the team beat the Cincinnati Bengals with 17-0; a week later in the AFC Championship, the team defeated the Oakland Raiders with a 27-17 score. Onwards, the team won the first post-merger Super Bowl V, beating the Dallas Cowboys with a 16–13.

In 1971, the Colts made a come back to the playoffs, beating the Cleveland Browns 20-3 in the first round. They, however, lost to the Miami Dolphins during the January 2, 1972 AFC Championship with 21–0 record. The team qualified into four more playoffs in the 1970s – the 1971 wild card, and three consecutive AFC East titles (1975, 1976, 1977). These winning teams featured 1976 NFL Most Valuable Player Bert Jones as quarterback, along with an outstanding defensive line -- the "Sack Pack." From then on, however, the team experienced a losing streak for nine consecutive seasons starting in 1978. The team experienced a major problem with the defense in 1981. The awful 1982 season provided the team the right to select Stanford's John Elway who then refused to play for Baltimore, forcing a trade to Denver. With an improved defense, the team finished 7–9 in 1983 during their last season in Baltimore.

The Indianapolis Colts' relocation to Indianapolis

The relocation to Indianapolis in early 1984 ended the Colts' lease on the Memorial Stadium, which had also expired. Irsay wanted a new or upgraded stadium but the city officials of Baltimore were wary of investing due to the dwindling attendance and poor performance by the team. This led to unfavorable relations with Baltimore city officials and Irsay narrowed down his choice for an NFL franchise relocation to Phoenix and Indianapolis. At that time, Indianapolis was reinventing itself into a "Great American City" under Mayor Richard Lugar and then his successor, William Hudnut. Similarly, the Hoosier Dome, which was later renamed the RCA Dome, was ready to host an NFL expansion team.

In Baltimore at the same time, the situation became worse. The Maryland legislature intervened and warned to approve a law giving the city of Baltimore the right to seize ownership of the team by virtue of eminent domain. Irsay, as a result, started serious negotiations with Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut to be able to move the team before the Maryland legislature enacts the bill.

Striking an agreement, the city of Indianapolis granted a $12,500,000 loan to Colt’s owner, with a $4,000,000 training complex, and the use of the brand new 57,980 seat Hoosier Dome. When the deal was done, Mayflower Transit trucks were dispatched at 2:00AM to the team's Maryland training complex on March 29, where workers loaded the team's belongings and left for the team's new home by 3:00 AM.

Despite the lawsuits triggered by the move, it all ended with a settlement reached by representatives of Baltimore and the Colts organization on March 1986. Subsequently, lawsuits regarding the relocation were dismissed, and the Colts would endorse a new NFL team for Baltimore. With mixed emotions, many of the popular old-time Colts were bitter, cutting all ties to the relocated Colts team. In December 1983, the Colts' made the final home game in Baltimore against the then Houston Oilers.

The Indianapolis Colts today

In the 2005 season, the Colts became the 4th team in NFL history to win their first 13 games. The season ended, however, with the Colts losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the opening playoffs. The team experienced playing without Coach Tony Dungy due to his son’s suicide and lost second straight to the eventual NFC Champion, Seattle Seahawks. Upon Dungy's return to the sidelines for the last regular season, the Colts beat the Arizona Cardinals 17–13 record. The team's final 14-2 record marked the best 16-game season in the franchise's history.

The Colts were eliminated in the divisional round on January 15, 2006 by Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, with a 21–18 record. Although trailing 21–10 late in the game, the Colts regained possession and scored 8 points on the board, making a 21–18 score. Although the team won two consecutive seasons over nine games, the Colts proceeded to lose three of the next four, largely due to the team's worst run defense. They still won their fourth consecutive AFC South title by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals. On February 4, 2007 in Dolphin Stadium, the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears 29-17. Indianapolis was the first "dome team" to win a Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium. Tony Dungy won the Super Bowl as both a player (XIII) and head coach (XLI). The Colts became the only team to date to win a Super Bowl from the AFC South including the three Super Bowl wins in Miami.

The 2007 regular NFL season for the Colts ended with a record of 13 wins and 3 losses to win the AFC South title. In January 13, 2008 at the RCA Dome, they faced the San Diego Chargers and lost with a 28-24 record. They played their 1st game at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 24, 2008.