It's a Tough Day for Colts Fans

Ed Thompson shares his thoughts and advice as the league gets ready to kickoff another Super Bowl -- with the Colts and their fans watching from home.

Last night I sat down with my wife and we watched as Jim Nantz on CBS hosted a show that ranked the top forty Super Bowl commercials of all time. There were lots of great commercials, a few of which I predicted would be on the list. I laughed as Cedric once again shook up the beer bottles while dancing in the kitchen because of his excitement over what appeared to be a promising evening with his date and as the clean-cut country club guys asked each other "What are YOU doing" and the Clydesdales kicked an extra point during their football game while the old ranch hand calmly explains to the other, "they usually go for two." 

There were even a few I had forgotten about that brought a smile and some laughs like the other Clydesdale commercial with a real zebra peaking into an instant replay viewer while the horses await his decision. For those who missed the show, viewers were able to pick the top all-time commercial online during the show from three choices. While Mean Joe Greene's Coca-Cola commercial with the kid who offers him his Coke won, I couldn't help but take a moment to cast a vote for my favorite, "Terry Tate: Office Linebacker." It doesn't matter how many times I see that, I laugh out loud every time even though I know practically the entire commercial by heart.

But a not so funny thing happened as I watched the show. Between playing three or four commercials back-to-back, the cameras focused on Nantz, who was wandering around the empty stadium at Ford Field in Detroit. And as he made references to the game that would be played on Sunday, for the first time since the first few hours after the Colts lost to the Steelers, I felt some serious pangs of sadness. I got to the point during the hour-long special where I really just wanted them to play the commercials, keep me laughing, and not let me focus on the stadium that I had wished and hoped would be at least half-filled with Colts fans on Sunday.

My wife noticed and commented that she had been surprised by how positive I've been, even from the end of the Colts season when they lost to Pittsburgh. I have to admit, so was I. The Colts are the team that I've followed ever since I was old enough to enjoy the game. There has been no other team for me, and I'm 47 years old. I watched Unitas, Bert Jones, Mike Pagel, Jack Trudeau, Jim Harbaugh and Peyton Manning call for the hike of the ball (just to name a few of the plethora of quarterbacks this team has gone through in over 40 years). And I enjoyed watching so many talented players through the years who brought me to my feet as I dreamed of the Colts winning a Super Bowl, or during hard times, simply a playoff berth.

I was 13 years old when the Colts did win a Super Bowl back on January 17, 1971. My youngest son just turned 13 a few days ago. As the Colts were storming towards their first Super Bowl appearance with an unblemished record this season, I stopped and realized how ironic it would be for him to see them in, and hopefully win, a Super Bowl at the same age that I did.

I still remember that game well. Jim O'Brien kicked a 32-yard field goal with just five seconds remaining following linebacker Mike Curtis' interception (click the link to watch a one-minute highlight reel of the game at SuperBowl.com).  It gave the Colts their only Super Bowl title to date, and I still remember the rush of the moment, jumping up and down just as he did following the kick. It was an amazing moment that I've yearned to repeat. As an adult, I've been able to accomplish so much. I'm able to do so many things that I couldn't do as a 13-year old. Anything I've yearned for badly enough, I know that I at least have the ability to try to make it happen.

But I realized that part of this yearning from my childhood is perhaps the most frustrating, because it's totally out of my control. I can't put on the uniform, nor would it do the Colts much good at my current age even if I could. All I can do is cheer ... and hope ... and wait for that moment that will allow me to experience as a man something that gave me such a great thrill as a young teenager.

I don't know which is worse, quite honestly; to have experienced a Super Bowl victory 34 years ago and still be waiting for another, or to have never experienced one at all. Indianapolis fans have waited over 20 years for their first Super Bowl. Perhaps Colts fans who started following the team anytime between the 1971 and 1983 seasons probably have it the worst. They have no Super Bowl memory, watched their team leave Baltimore, and now still wait with the fans who joined their ranks from the Indianapolis era, for their first taste of a championship.

Before Baltimore tore down Memorial Stadium, they sold off stadium seats and auctioned off memorabilia from that grand old place. I went there with my best friend and bought some seats, which I sit in as I watch games on television. But perhaps my favorite moment came when I saw that they had the Lombardi Trophy from Super Bowl V on display. And you could pick it up and have your picture taken with it. I couldn't pass on that opportunity. It's the closest I've come to reliving that feeling I had over 30 years ago as I got to lift that trophy, inscribed with the names of the players who earned it.

Today, I'll watch the Steelers and the Seahawks battle for one of those trophies. And I know I won't be able to shake the hollowness that I felt last night. And I'm sure for many of you, the emptiness and sadness will creep into your soul a bit as well. If it does, try to remember that being a Colts fan is more than just winning a Lombardi Trophy. It's about the entire fan experience that we get to enjoy all year round.

It's the talk about what the roster will look like next year as players' contracts expire, free agents are signed, and rookies are added. It's the speculation of which players will survive the cuts of training camp, how the team will fare with it's upcoming schedule of opponents. It's the in-season highs and lows as we watch the team perform each week. And it's the thrill and the hope of a playoff appearance that maybe, just maybe, will finally put the Colts back in the Super Bowl.

A couple of weeks ago, we entered the same phase of our Colts fan experience that we've had for decades by the time Super Bowl weekend rolls around. We can't turn back the clock and shouldn't continue to drive ourselves crazy with the "what ifs" that eat away at the experience of a new season. And that's what we are in right now as Colts fans. As you've seen with the news and stories on our site the last couple of weeks, it's already happening.

Once Sunday night's game is over, do yourself a big favor. Grab a tape of one of your favorite Colts games from this year and pop it in before you go to bed, or at worst, make it your Monday Night Football game this week. Take a look at how talented this team is, how good they will continue to be, and replace that hollowness with hope -- just like you've done every year since you've been a fan. Focus on the fun you're going to have this year as the team starts ramping up for the 2006 season. Because as soon as the clock on tonight's game shows a bunch of zeroes and another Super Bowl is in the books, everyone is 0-0 again.

And from that point on, any regrets I'm feeling today will be replaced with determination and fervor for this team, just like every year. Because a new season officially begins for all 32 teams late tonight. And not a single one is better than the 2006 version of the Colts that will be on display later this year, no matter what anyone else says.

Believe it. Feel it. And have great fun as we go through the experience together in 2006 at ColtPower.  

If you are reading this article through a news portal, visit us at ColtPower.com for the version that provides the link to the Super Bowl V video.

 


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