Why the Colts?
From 1999 until last year, the Colts were a dominant team, riding the arm of quarterback Peyton Manning. Often when people met me in this period they assumed I cheered for the Colts because they were a winner, or because I was a Manning fan. When he went to the Denver Broncos some of those same people assumed I too would transfer my allegiance to the Mile High City. WRONG!
|Gary Hogeboom, before "Survivor",|
although with that offensive line
he was a survivor of a different kind
My allegiance goes back to 1986, and can even be confirmed by a message in my Grade 12 yearbook from Derek Flaman who admonished me for being a Colts fan.
So, why? Like any sports allegiance, it's a story as peculiar as sports itself. The first team I really liked was the Oakland Raiders, back in the late 70s when I was nine years old. I loved Jim Plunkett, and the amazing comeback story he was, overcoming injury and adversity to lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl, the first ever wildcard team to win the championship.
But after that, and as I discovered long before that, they were a winner. I've always liked an underdog. There was none bigger than the 1986 Indianapolis Colts. I picked up their trail in 1986 when they were winless, and threatening to not win a game all year. They fired their coach, and hired Ron Meyer with three games to go, and they were 0-13. I'd seen him coach the New England Patriots and liked him. Plus, here he was, given an impossible task.
Until they went into Atlanta and won. Then they took on Buffalo – and won. In those days, Indianapolis was like an NFL Siberia, so the Colts were never on TV. On peasant vision we never even got games on CTV or CBC until after the Canadian Football League season was over. Even then, we often got the "local" feed, which was usually a Seattle Seahawk game. However, on the last weekend of the regular season, the Colts and the Raiders were on CTV.
|Albert Bentley, who still lives on|
in the Colts backfield in the video game
Tecmo SuperBowl football
|Eric Dickerson, in the news again|
this year as Adrian Peterson went after
his single-season rushing record
Once the strike was over, Dickerson joined the Colts. On the first day he dressed, Bentley rushed for almost 150 yards. I was so stoked. Dickerson would soon assume the lion's share of the rushing load, and the Colts won their division. I was pumped – and hooked. However, they faced none other than my hero Bernie Kosar and his Cleveland Browns in the AFC Divisional Game and they ran all over the Colts.
Still, that cinched it. The Colts were my time, and I have never regretted it.
Do you believe in coincidence, or numerology, or whatever it's called?
One more thing. That first season I cheered for the Colts they went 3-13. Keep that record, and those numbers in mind.
The Colts finished the 1997 season 3-13 which gave them the number one pick in the draft. They took Peyton Manning. The Colts finished 3-13 in 1998, Manning's rookie season. The next year, 1999, they finished 13-3, the single greatest turnaround in NFL history. Then last year, 2011, the Colts lost Manning for the whole season and finished with a record of 3-13, which gave them the first pick in the draft. They took Andrew Luck.
I fully expect the Colts to go 3-13, although 13-3 is still possible.
Whatever their record though, one of this season's wins is maybe the single most inspiring game I've watched them play. It wasn't for them, or stats, or a playoff spot. It was for their ailing coach – and they gave him the game ball.
Cheer for anyone else – NEVER.