Almost 30 years ago the Baltimore Colts, one of the NFL’s premier franchises, skirted the law and abandoned their hometown. Wanting a new stadium and coveting the newly built Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, the franchise left in the night in a fleet of Mayflower moving trucks carrying all the team’s possessions.
They avoided Maryland State Police, who had orders to stop any potential move of the team, which Maryland state government was trying to claim through eminent domain in an effort to keep the beloved franchise in Baltimore.
Colts fans woke up to find that their team had abandoned them. And now, a week after the city of Indianapolis hosted its first Super Bowl, the Colts are about to abandon their beloved QB, too.
The Colts franchise is still defined by the controversial move. Their legacy in Baltimore is one of vitriol. Not only did the team’s owner, Robert Irsay, move the team, but he eventually reneged on a promise to endorse an expansion franchise in Baltimore, delaying the return of the NFL to the city for almost a decade. Every single Baltimore Colt Hall of Famer, including all-time great Johnny Unitas, has renounced their ties to the new Team.
To this day, when the Colts visit Baltimore, the scoreboard and announcer refuse to refer to the visitors as the Colts, instead calling them “Indianapolis NFL team.”
The team failed to find much success in Indianapolis for many years until a soft-spoken quarterback drafted from Knoxville turned the team around.
With Peyton Manning the Colts had found the first success in decades and pulled it out of the shadow of “The Move.” He got the Colts their first Super Bowl in Indiana, defeating the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. But after a terrible season, resulting from Manning being out for an entire year with neck problems, the Colts are prepared to dump Peyton and draft Stanford QB Andrew Luck.
My problem with all this is not the fact that the Colts want to move on and have Luck as their quarterback next year. It’s a classless move, but a smart one.
I have a problem with how they’re doing it. This has been the worst potential breakup since LeBron James went on national TV and announced that he had Narcissistic personality disorder.
The Colts hired an all-new staff without talking to Manning. He has had little contact with the team all offseason. Clearly the Colts are moving on, yet they have told Manning nothing.
The Indianapolis Colts owe it to Manning to tell him the second they decide to move on. By not doing so and leaving their second-best all time player hanging in the wind, the Colts will have cemented themselves as a classless franchise, one that has no loyalty.
One that didn’t deserve Peyton Manning.