in the spring of 1984 with a new dome, a stolen logo and the shameful stream of lies and deceit that followed those Mayflowers west. The karma alone wrecked them for the better part of two decades and the only Super Bowl ring that Bob Irsay has ever been photographed with is to the right. —>
He’s dead. And his team never won. And he never experienced any joy related to the wealth that he earned by rolling the Colts outta of Baltimore in the middle of the night like a civic thief.
And as much as Bob Irsay turned the Colts – the civic pride and joy of Baltimore for three generations – into a national punch line back in the 1980’s, it’s now 2012 and they’re not a joke anymore. It might sound crazy but they actually hosted a Super Bowl last week – and it might’ve been the greatest Super Bowl host city ever. I’ve been to 18 weeks’ worth of “The Big Game” and I’ve never seen a bigger or better celebration around the event.
But it was impossible to walk around shiny and new Lucas Oil Stadium and not see that beneath all of the layers of the previous ugly – the betrayal of Baltimore, the lies, the Mayflower vans in the snow and the indignity of watching the people of Indiana wear Johnny Unitas jerseys as their own — Bob Irsay’s ugly bud and roots beneath the surface have unearthed a shining gem once it was watered and cared for by his son Jim Irsay and the support of the people of Indiana over the past three decades. Oh, and there’s this quarterback named Peyton Manning who has almost singlehandedly been a civic angel at quarterback to pay homage to what John Unitas once meant to that horseshoe and that helmet here in Baltimore.
The Indianapolis Colts – and what they represent to their city, state, fans and the NFL – have become a full-fledged “flower” after being relegated to the weeds for years. And with the Peyton Manning-Andrew Luck drama unfurling during the week, it certainly brought Irsay’s name to the forefront. Every TV newscast I saw all week led with the new civic Bermuda Triangle and soap opera of Irsay-Manning-Luck.
As you know newspaper reporters are amongst the crankiest people on earth. They’ll bitch about anything and even those people were in universal agreement – Indianapolis did a helluva job hosting Super Bowl XLVI.
I gotta tell you it was one weird week for me. My company, WNST.net, had 15 buses and almost 200 hotel rooms and plenty of Super Bowl tickets ready to take most of Baltimore west for a “get even with Indy” celebration to cart the Lombardi Trophy back to the Inner Harbor. I had rented out a whole city in Indiana called Broad Ripple for what would’ve been the biggest party any Ravens fan had ever seen this side of Whiskey Joe’s in 2001 in Tampa.
I had enlisted the Charm City Devils to play our pre-game tailgate. I was even going to invite Jared from Subway (who lives in Indy and is a Colts fan) to hang out with Michael Phelps in purple to sing a Baltimore-Indianapolis “Kumbaya.” (By the way, Subway doesn’t support WNST.net and only funds our competitors so I try not to eat their food.)
But instead of a triumphant celebration and a major boon to our business at WNST.net, I instead got a lonely eight-hour bus ride home from Foxborough and an eight-night stay and a front-row seat on Radio Row in Indianapolis to watch the Super Bowl that should’ve been ours, surrounded by blue and horseshoes that were stolen from our community.
The thought of going to Indianapolis last week almost felt like a sick penitentiary stay for a kid from Baltimore who was broke – and broken-hearted – by the near-miss of the Ravens’ run for the championship and all of the fun and glory that was eventually enjoyed by Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
This is a picture from my first trip to Indy in 1996:
But the Super Bowl week that we all dreaded after the loss in New England turned out completely differently than any of us at WNST.net could’ve imagined.
We arrived at Radio Row and pretty Midwestern girls met us at the airport and got us into the city to work at the media center. The city streets were mobbed with kids and families and grandparents and drinking frat boys and girls literally every day I walked out of the hotel. It was like a Mardi Gras