March 29, 1984. The darkest day in Baltimore sports history. The day that sleazeball Bob Irsay packed up the Mayflower trucks and moved the Colts to Indianapolis in the dead of the night, leaving Baltimore stunned when they woke up. Is Baltimore better off now without the Colts? Yes. Should Baltimore forgive the Irsays? No chance Lance.
First and foremost, I should start with saying all this happened well before I was born. I can’t tell you how it would feel to have my football team ripped away from me. Can’t even imagine. But I can tell you I’ve experienced some of the pain vicariously through my old man. And the bitterness he maintains to this day is all I need to know. Hell, I grew up in a house that shunned the NFL until 1996. So yeah, it’s safe to say I was raised to despise the Irsays and the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts were a part of this city’s DNA. The players were as much a part of the community as you or me, especially in that era. Most had blue collar jobs in the offseason in town. You could find Art Donovan slugging beers and telling jokes with the townies on any given night. They were regular people. There was a special connection between the Colts and Charm City, and the Irsays took that away from us.
I realize the NFL is a business. Admittedly, the state of Maryland attempting to use eminent domain to take over a football team was a bit ridiculous. But that just goes to show what the Colts meant to Baltimore. The franchise belonged to the people, and not Irsay. It’s not nearly as much about him taking the Colts to Indy as much as the way he did it. Leaving in the middle of the night is as cowardly as it gets. Taking the name and the tradition sucks too. The Blue and White, the logo, Super Bowl V, the 3 other NFL championships, all of that belongs to the city of Baltimore. That’s why legends like Johnny Unitas had photos of Irsay in the urinals of his Golden Arm restaurant. That’s how deep the hatred runs.
Baltimore is a great football town, and the Ravens have validated that. Have we moved on? Yeah. But is the Irsay family forgiven? Never.