A Long Time Coming

I guess that they were right; winning changes everything. For years I wondered why this team lacked support in this city...

...I wondered why people weren't emotionally and financially involved with their home team; actually, I wondered at times if this truly was their home team, or perhaps just some orphaned franchise, on its way from Baltimore to somewhere else eventually. I didn't like to think like that. Sometimes I couldn't help it.

There have been some moments when it seemed like things where going to change. That '95 playoff run certainly had folks talking about this team. I recall going out to the airport to welcome them home after their huge, improbable victory over the Chiefs, one of thousands that were there to congratulate "our" team on a great win. Sadly, it didn't last. As quickly as it came, it went away.

Too many coaches, too many quarterbacks, too many bad draft choices, too many touchdown passes by Dan Marino, too many lopsided losses. Too few reasons for those with a passing interest to buy a ticket and spend another Sunday afternoon watching bad football. And no matter how optimistic I was in September, talking about this team to anyone who cared to listen, things never really changed for the team or the citizens of our fair city. I didn't think that it ever would.

For years on our radio show I would recite the three basic instructions that I felt were needed; buy a ticket, wear blue and white, yell loudly. Yes, it was that bad around here, for many different reasons, but perhaps the biggest reason of all was that this team just did not win.

Winning changes everything. If you were to visit this city now there would be no doubt in your mind what football team plays here. You just don't wear blue and white on Sunday anymore; it has become the "in" thing to wear your Colts' stuff proudly seven days a week. Walk into any store around town and just take a look at all of the Colts' related items that are for sale.

Everyone wants to talk about this football team, their chances at winning the championship, how much fun they are to watch. Funny, but some of them are the same people that ridiculed me not too long ago about my unconditional support and loyalty to this team.

I guess winning does change everything.

It's all good though. I don't hold grudges when it comes to stuff like that, and I will stand and talk to them about Stokely and Fletcher and Mathis and Reagor and what a workhorse #32 is and how quick Freeney is. I will tell them more than they want to know about Brackett; how many forced fumbles Mathis had in college, about how Ben Utecht is going to be "The Man" someday soon.

And we'll discuss last Sunday's game, and look ahead to the upcoming one. Should they play the starters? Sit guys out? Who will they face in the playoffs?

And they'll ask me if I am going to Detroit if the team makes it that far. And they tell me that I HAVE TO GO!!! They ask me how could I not??? It does feel good to know that loyalty accounts for something.

So here's to those who go back to the days of Baltimore and Johnny U. And here is to those who bought a ticket in 1984, persevered, and are reaping the benefits. And here is to those who bought their first Colts hat last week.

Who knows what the next few weeks may have in store for "our" team? I do know that it is great to see that my Colts have found a home once again.

It sure did take awhile.

Email me at cima19@aol.com. I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and concerns.

You can listen to Jersey Johnny talk about the Colts and sports from 6-9 pm Sunday nights. Click this link to his page at WIBC and bookmark it as you can listen to his broadcast through WIBC's website.

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