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Indianapolis Colts
Current season
Established 1953
Play in Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis, Indiana
Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis Colts helmet
Indianapolis Colts logo
Helmet Logo
League/conference affiliations

National Football League (1953–present)

Current uniform
AFCS-Uniform-IND.PNG
Team colors Speed Blue, White

         

Mascot Blue
Personnel
Owner(s) Jim Irsay
CEO Jim Irsay
President Bill Polian
General manager Chris Polian
Head coach Jim Caldwell
Team history
Team nicknames
The Colts, Indy Colts
Championships
League championships (5)
Conference championships (7)
  • NFL Western: 1958, 1959, 1964, 1968
  • AFC: 1970, 2006, 2009
Division championships (13)
  • NFL Coastal: 1968
  • AFC East: 1970, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1987, 1999
  • AFC South: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Playoff appearances (23)
  • NFL: 1958, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1987, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
Home fields

The Indianapolis Colts are a professional American football team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are members of the South Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL).

The club was officially founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1953, but can trace its history to the Dayton Triangles, a founding member of the NFL that was originally created in 1913. After a series of changes, it assumed the "Baltimore Colts" name, replacing a previous team that folded in 1950. Playing at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, the Colts became the first NFL team to have cheerleaders. The team then relocated to Indianapolis in 1984, first playing at the Hoosier Dome, which was then renamed the RCA Dome before moving to Lucas Oil Stadium in 2008.

The Colts won four NFL championships (three NFL Championships in 1958, 1959, 1968; and Super Bowl V in 1971) while in Baltimore. Since moving to Indianapolis, they won Super Bowl XLI in 2007. Also since 1998, the team has become the first in league history to win 12 games or more in five consecutive seasons—extending this record to seven after the 2009 season. The team headquarters and practice facilities are also located in Indianapolis. The club currently holds their annual training camp from late July to mid-August on the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Contents

Franchise history

The Colts franchise was officially created in 1953, but can trace its history to before the NFL actually began: its earliest predecessor was the Dayton Triangles, a founding member of the NFL that was originally created in 1913. That team went through the following changes:

  • Dayton Triangles relocated and renamed Brooklyn Dodgers in 1930.
  • Changed name to Brooklyn Tigers in 1944. In the same year, the Boston Yanks are founded.
  • Merged with Boston Yanks in 1945 as the wartime "The Yanks."
  • Franchise cancelled in 1945 by league and the team's temporary merger with the Boston Yanks is made permanent, as a parallel team (AAFC New York Yankees) is founded by the Tigers' former owner.
  • Miami Seahawks of the AAFC are purchased and relocated to Baltimore and renamed the Colts (Originally wearing Green and Silver). This franchise was dissolved by the league on January 18, 1951.
  • Boston Yanks move to New York in 1949 and become New York Yanks, absorbing much of the Yankees' roster the next year.
  • New York Yanks move to Dallas in 1952 as Dallas Texans.
  • Texans become a road team halfway through the 1952 season and are dissolved shortly thereafter.
  • Dallas Texans franchise was moved to Baltimore on January 23, 1953 where, keeping the Colts name, they keep the Texans team colors of blue and white.

The AAFC Baltimore Colts

In December 28, 1946, the bankrupt Miami Seahawks of the All-America Football Conference were purchased and relocated in Baltimore by a group headed by Bob Rodenberg. As the result of a contest in Baltimore, won by Charles Evans of Middle River, Md., the team was renamed the Colts. On September 7, 1947, wearing the green and silver uniforms, the Colts, under Head Coach Cecil Isbell, won their initial AAFC game, 16–7, over the Brooklyn Dodgers. The team concluded its inaugural season before a record Baltimore crowd of 51,583 by losing to the New York Yankees, 21–7. The Colts finished with a 2–11–1 record, good for a fourth place finish in the Eastern Division. The Colts completed the 1948 season with a 7–8 record, tying the Buffalo Bills for the division title. The Colts compiled a 1–11 mark in 1949. Y. A. Tittle was the Colts starting quarterback.

The AAFC and NFL merged in 1950, and the Colts joined the NFL. After posting a 1–11 record for the second consecutive year, the franchise was dissolved by the league on January 18, 1951, because of its failing financial condition. But many Baltimore fans protested the loss of their team and continued to support the marching band (the second in professional football, after that of their local rivals, the Washington Redskins) and fan club, both of which remained in operation and worked for the team's revival.

The NFL Dallas Texans

After two seasons without professional football, NFL Commissioner Bert Bell challenged Baltimore in December 1952 to sell 15,000 season tickets within six weeks in order to re-enter the NFL. That 15,000-ticket quota was reached in four weeks and three days. On January 23, 1953, under the principal ownership of Carroll Rosenbloom, the NFL’s Dallas Texans franchise was moved to Baltimore where, assuming the Colts nickname, the Texans' team colors of blue and white were retained. This is the franchise that exists today in Indianapolis.[1]

The Texans had a long and winding history; they started as the Boston Yanks in 1944 and merged with the Brooklyn Tigers (previously known as the Dayton Triangles, an original NFL team established in the 1910s) for the 1945 season before moving to New York as the Bulldogs in 1949. The team then became the Yanks in 1950, and many of the players from the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference were added to the team. The Yanks moved to Dallas after the 1951 season, but played their final two home games of the 1952 season at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio.

The NFL Baltimore Colts

1953–1970

The Colts began the 1953 season with a blockbuster trade, swapping five Baltimore players for 10 Cleveland Browns. Among the players who came to Baltimore were future coach Don Shula; Bert Rechichar, Carl Taseff and Art Spinney, among others. The 2nd incarnation of the Baltimore Colts first took the field at Memorial Stadium on September 27, with coach Keith Molesworth. The Colts would stun the Bears that day 13–9 to get the new franchise off on the right foot. However, the Colts struggled to a 3–9 season in their inaugural year.[2]

1958

On December 28, 1958, Baltimore faced the New York Giants in the NFL Championship game at Yankee Stadium. The Colts went to halftime with a 14–3 lead after scoring two touchdowns in the second quarter. The fourth quarter would end tied a 17, meaning the NFL would have to use sudden death overtime for the first time ever. Johnny Unitas hit wide receiver Raymond Berry with a pass that gave the Colts a 1st down in Giants territory. Baltimore continued to drive down to the 1-yard line, with first and goal. Unitas handed off to Alan Ameche who dove across the goal line to give Baltimore a 23–17 win, in what many call the greatest game ever played.[3][4] The game would serve as a launching point for the NFL's remarkable boom in popularity.[2]

1959

The next season, Baltimore had a Championship Game rematch with the New York Giants, with the game this time being played at Memorial Stadium. For the first three quarters the Colts fell behind 9–7. Unitas led the Colts back in the fourth quarter scoring 24 unanswered points, and Baltimore to claim their 2nd straight NFL Championship with a 31–16 victory.[2]

1964

In 1964, after losing the first game of the season to the Vikings, the Colts went on a 10-game winning streak on the way to winning the Western Division Championship with a 12–2 record. Unitas won the NFL MVP award after amassing 2,824 yards passing.[2] The Colts faced the Cleveland Browns in the Championship Game. However, nothing would go right in Cleveland as the Colts were defeated 27–0.[2]

1967

Unitas won his second NFL MVP award in 1967 with 3,428 yards passing as the Colts went undefeated through the first 13 games of the season with a record of 11–0–2. However, the Colts still needed to beat the Rams in Los Angeles to claim the Coastal Division Championship. The Rams would win the game 34–10 to win the Division title and advance to the postseason, as the Colts went home despite an 11–1–2 record.[2]

1968

Unitas missed most of the 1968 season with an elbow injury. Backup quarterback Earl Morrall stepped in and won the NFL MVP award, while leading the Colts to a 13–1 season. While Morrall led the offense, the Colts defense shut out three opponents while allowing a record low 144 points. In the Divisional Playoff the Colts beat the Minnesota Vikings 24–14 before a sold out crowd at Memorial Stadium.[2]

Super Bowl III

Super Bowl III was the third AFL-NFL Championship Game in professional American football, but the first to officially bear the name Super Bowl (The two previous AFL-NFL Championship Games would retroactively be called Super Bowls as well). This game is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in sports history. The heavy underdog American Football League (AFL) champion New York Jets (11–3) defeated the National Football League (NFL) champion Baltimore Colts (13–1) by a score of 16–7. It was the first Super Bowl victory for the AFL.

The game was played on January 12, 1969, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida – the same location as Super Bowl II. Entering Super Bowl III, the NFL champion Colts were heavily favored to defeat the AFL champion Jets. Although the upstart AFL had successfully forced the long-established NFL into a merger agreement three years earlier, the AFL was not generally respected as having the same caliber of talent as the NFL. Plus, the AFL representatives (Kansas City and Oakland) were easily defeated in the first two Super Bowls by the NFL representative, which in both cases was Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers.

After boldly guaranteeing a victory prior to the game, Jets quarterback Joe Namath completed 17 out of 28 passes for 206 yards, and was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player, despite not throwing a touchdown pass in the game or any passes at all in the fourth quarter.

Following the next season, coach Don Shula, who fell out of favor with owner Carroll Rosenbloom, was allowed to resign and he took the coaching job with Miami Dolphins. Assistant Coach Don McCafferty would replace Shula.[2]

1970

Prior to the 1970 season, Rosenbloom, Art Modell of the Browns, and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to have their teams join the ten AFL teams in the AFC as part of the AFL-NFL merger giving each conference an equal amount of teams, and divisions. The Colts won the Eastern Division while posting an 11–2–1 record. During the season the Colts would get revenge for Super Bowl III, by beating the New York Jets, who were now a division rival. In the Divisional Playoffs, the Colts defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 17–0 at Memorial Stadium. The Colts then defeated the Raiders 27–17 to advance to the Super Bowl.[2]

Super Bowl V

In Super Bowl V against the Dallas Cowboys, the Cowboys jumped out to a 6-0 lead on 2 field goals before Baltimore tied it on a 75-yard pass from Unitas to John Mackey. However, Baltimore's PAT was blocked and the game remained tied. The Cowboys would jump out in front again and went into the 4th quarter holding a 13-6 lead into halftime. Earl Morrall relieved an injured Unitas in the 2nd half the game as the two teams kept fumbling the ball back-and-forth in a game that got the nickname blunder bowl as both teams combined had 11 turnovers. Baltimore would tie the game midway through the final period on a 2-yard plunge by running back Tom Nowatzke. With less than 2 minutes left Cowboys RB Dan Reeves fumbled the ball setting up the Colts in Dallas territory. Baltimore would win the game on a 32-yard field goal from Jim O'Brien with 5 seconds left.[2]

1971-83

Following a 1-4 start in 1972, McCafferty was fired. The Colts would go 4-5 in their final 9 games under John Sandusky to finish with a 5-9 record, their first losing mark in 16 years. Following the season Unitas was traded to the San Diego Chargers. However, Unitas would not leave without coming off the bench his final game at Memorial Stadium. Leading the Colts on a 55-yard Touchdown pass late in the 4th quarter to help beat the Buffalo Bills 35-7. Memorial Stadium gave the legend a standing ovation as a small plane flying overhead carried a banner reading "Unitas We Stand."[2] After a 4-10 season in 1973 and a 0-3 start in 1974, head coach Howard Schnellenberger was fired and replaced by Joe Thomas. The Colts would not perform any better under Thomas compiling a miserable 2-12 season.[2]

Under new coach Ted Marchibroda the Colts would get off to a 1-4 start in 1975. However, the Colts would start winning as quarterback Bert Jones, and running back Lydell Mitchell came of age and led the Colts on a seven game winning streak. The Colts would go on to win their last game of the season to claim the AFC East with a 10-4 record. However, in the Divisional Playoffs the young Colts were no match for the Steelers in Pittsburgh, suffering a season ending 28-10 loss.[2] Marcibroda resigned as head coach but was re-hired for the 1976. The Colts would go on to have a stellar season led by Jones who won the NFL MVP by passing for 3,104 yards. The Colts put together a solid season and win the AFC East with an 11-3 record. However in the Divisional Playoffs the Colts were defeated again by the Pittsburgh Steelers, this time at Memorial Stadium, 40-14.[2] In 1977, the Colts were again defeated in the Divisional Playoffs by the Oakland Raiders, 37-31.[2] Following the 1979 season, Marchibroda was fired and replaced by Mike McCormack.[2]

After two losing seasons, McCormack was fired and Bert Jones was traded to the Los Angeles Rams.[2] In 1982, attendance begins to dwindle at Memorial Stadium as the Colts struggle during a season interrupted by a two-month strike. Actually the strike provided relief for the John Elaway However, Elaway refused to play for owner Robert Irsay and threatened to play minor league baseball or in the newly formed USFL. Fearful the Colts would get nothing for his rights the Colts traded Elaway to the Denver Broncos..[2] On December 18, 1983, unbeknownst to the team or fans, the Colts played their final home game (against the then Houston Oilers) in the city of Baltimore. 27,934 fans showed up, 516 more fans than the crowd that had turned out for their first home game in 1947.

Ownership's discontent

Memorial Stadium in Baltimore
Baltimore Stadium (Later renamed "Memorial" Stadium) with 33rd Street in the foreground

In May 1969 the city of Baltimore announced it would seek a “substantial” increase in Memorial Stadium rental fees from Carol Rosenbloom and the Colts. Rosenbloom had already called Memorial Stadium “antiquated” and had threatened to move all Colts home games out of the stadium unless improvements were made.[5] Rosenbloom even considered using $12-20 million of his own money to help fund the building of a new football only stadium on land in adjoining Baltimore County.[6] By November 1971, Rosenbloom announced that the Colts would not return to Memorial Stadium when their lease ran out following the 1972 season and that he was not interested in negotiating with the city anymore.[7] He wanted out of Baltimore for a few reasons — Team revenue, problems with Baltimore Orioles ownership relating to Memorial Stadium and food sales/parking fees, a running feud with the Baltimore press, and his new wife's desire to move to the West Coast.[7][8] Will Keland, a real estate investor was originally slated to buy the Colts from Rosenbloom. However, Keland could not generate enough funds necessary to purchase the team. But his golfing buddy, Robert Irsay who originally was only slated to own 1 percent of the team, did have the money available and he moved in to make the purchase. On July 13, 1972, Robert Irsay became the owner of the Colts. Under the terms of the arrangement, Irsay bought the Los Angeles Rams for $19 million, then traded them to Rosenbloom for the Colts and $3 million in cash. The players for each team remained in their respective cities.

In 1971, Baltimore mayor William Donald Schaefer and the state's governor, Marvin Mandel, created a stadium committee to examine the city's stadium needs. Their report was a blow to Memorial Stadium. Some of the problems mentioned: 10,000 stadium's seats had views that were "less than desirable"; 20,000 seats were out-dated bench seats that had no back support; 7,000 so called seats were actually poorly constructed temporary bleachers that were installed for football games only. Also, there was not enough office space adequate enough for the front offices of either the Orioles or Colts, much less both teams combined. Both teams had to share locker rooms, the upper deck of Memorial Stadium did not circle the field, ending instead at the 50-yard line, thousands of potential seats (and added revenue) were missing. Any expansion plans for the stadium had usually mentioned less attractive (and less expensive) end-zone seats, not upper deck seating. And the number of bathroom facilities in Memorial Stadium was deemed inadequate.[7]

Maryland's planners came up with an ambitious project. Nicknamed the Baltodome,[9] the original plan was to create a facility near the city's Inner Harbor known as Camden Yards. The new stadium would host 70,000 fans for football games, 55,000 for baseball and 20,000 as an arena for hockey or basketball. For an estimated $78 million, the city would build a facility that would have kept all parties happy; Orioles owner Hoffberger, Colts owner Irsay, the Stadium Complex Authority (whose Chairman Edmond Rovner reiterated in 1972 that "A major consideration in Mr. Irsay's trading of franchises, was the city's firm commitment to proceed with these plans."[10]), Baltimore Mayor Schaefer and the state's governor, Marvin Mandel.[7]

But the proposal did not receive support to pass the Maryland legislature, in spite of assurances that contributions from taxpayers would be limited strictly to city and state loans. And on February 27, 1974 Maryland's Governor Mandel pulled the plug on the idea.[9] Orioles owner Jerrold Hoffberger was blunt "I will bow to the will of the people. They have told us what they want to tell us. First, they dont want a new park and second, they dont want a club."[7][9] Robert Irsay was willing to wait. "Its not a matter of saying that there will be no stadium. Its a matter of getting the facts together so everybody is happy when they build the stadium. I'm a patient man. I think the people of Baltimore are going to see those new stadiums in New Orleans and Seattle opening in a year or two around the country, and they are going to realize they need a stadium ... for conventions and other things besides football."[7][9]

But Hyman Pressman, Baltimore's comptroller, was against using any public funds to build a new stadium. During the 1974 elections, Pressman had an amendment to the city's charter placed on the fall ballot. Known as Question P,[7] the amendment called for declaring "the 33rd Street stadium as a memorial to war veterans and prohibiting use of city funds for construction of any other stadium." The measure passed 56 percent to 44 percent, and the same jingoistic ideas that had been used to upgrade the then Baltimore Stadium (Originally built in 1922) in the late-40s and rename it Memorial Stadium, effectively destroyed any chance of a new, modern sports complex being built in Baltimore.[7][9]

Although the Colts made the playoffs for three straight years from 1975-77, there had still been no progress made on a new park for the team. Robert Irsay first spoke with Phoenix, Arizona in 1976 and then Indianapolis, Indiana in 1977 about the possibility of relocating his team to one of those cities. In 1976 he acknowledged publicly that he had received an "attractive offer" to move the franchise to Phoenix, Arizona.[10] Then in 1977 said "I like Baltimore and want to stay there, but when are we going to find out something about our stadium? I'm getting offers from towns like Indianapolis to build me a new stadium and give me other inducements to move there. I dont want to but I'd like to see some action in Baltimore".[10]. In 1979 Jerrold Hoffberger sold the Orioles to Washington D.C. attorney Edward Williams who declared 1980 to be a trial year for the fans of Baltimore. He then went on to explain his concerns with Memorial Stadium, saying it had "inadequate parking and inadequate access and egress. Frankly, I dont know if those problems will ever be solvable at that location,".[10] Irsay began shopping the Colts around in earnest, talking first to officials from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, Memphis, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida[8] where he visited the Gator Bowl packed with 50,000 cheering fans trying to convince him that Jacksonville would be the best home for the Colts. That same year Irsay presented Maryland's Governor Harry Hughes with a request for $25 million in renovation to the dilapidated 64,124 seat Memorial Stadium.[11] Irsay's request for $25 million in improvements was decreased to $23 million by the Maryland legislature. The plan added more seats (but none of the revenue-generating skyboxes), improving the plumbing and would've given both teams better office space. The plans approval was contingent on both the Colts and Baltimore Orioles signing long term leases. The Orioles challenged the requested football improvements and refused to sign anything more than a one year lease. Irsay also refused to sign long term. As a result, the funds and improvements never came.[7][11]

Relocation to Indianapolis

The Colts moved into the Hoosier Dome (later the RCA Dome) upon their move from Baltimore to Indianapolis.
The interior of the dome, taken in 2007 after the Colts installed a FieldTurf surface at the stadium

Under the administration of Mayor Richard Lugar and then continuing with William Hudnut, Indianapolis was making a serious effort to reinvent itself into a 'Great American City'. In 1979, Indianapolis community leaders created the Indiana Sports Corp. in order to attract major sports events to central Indiana. The next year, Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut appointed a committee to study the feasibility of building a new stadium that could serve primarily as a boon to the city's convention business and, secondarily, as a lure for an NFL team.[12]

In 1982, construction on the Hoosier Dome (later renamed the RCA Dome) began. Deputy Mayor David Frick, who would later lead the negotiations with the Colts and then go on to become chairman of the Indiana state commission that would oversee construction of the RCA Dome's replacement, Lucas Oil Stadium, would say that the RCA Dome was a key to changing the city's image. "Sports was an element in our game plan to change the image of the city back in the late 1970s, early 1980s,".[12]

In February 1983, after relations between Irsay and the city of Baltimore had deteriorated significantly, Baltimore Mayor Schaefer asked the Maryland General Assembly to approve $15 million for renovation to Memorial Stadium. The legislature did not approve the request until the following spring, after the Colts' lease had expired,[13] and only half of that $15 million would go towards improvements that the Colts were seeking (The other half for the Orioles'). However, Baltimore reportedly did offer Irsay a $15 million loan at 6.5%, a guarantee of at least 43,000 tickets sold per game for six years, and the purchase of the team's Owings Mills training facility for $4 million.[8]

On March 2nd NFL Owners voted to give Irsay permission to move his franchise to the city of his choosing.[14] Irsay continued discussions with several cities hungry for an NFL franchise (New York, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Birmingham, Jacksonville and Memphis[15]) eventually narrowing the list of cities to two, Phoenix and Indianapolis.[16] In January 1984 Baltimore's mayor Schaefer stated "We're not going to build a new stadium. We do not have the bonding capacity. We dont have the voters or taxpayer who can support a $60 million stadium. One-third of the people in Baltimore pay taxes. Unless private enterprise builds it, we wont build it."[10] The Phoenix Metropolitan Sports Foundation, headed by real estate developer Eddie Lynch, along with Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt and other top Arizona officials, had secretly met with Irsay early in January 1984.[14] Preliminary talks seemed promising. Phoenix was offering a below market rate $15,000,000.00 loan and rent free use of the 71,000 seat Sun Devil statium on the campus of Arizona State University. A second meeting was scheduled between Irsay and the Phoenix group. But when word of a second scheduled meeting leaked out and was reported by the media on the Friday before the Super Bowl, Irsay canceled.[16] Meanwhile, Indianapolis and local real estate developer Robert Welch, were lobbying the NFL to bring an expansion team to the city, with Welch as team owner. Welch also had personal discussions with New Orleans Saints owner John Mecom about buying the team and moving it to Indianapolis. In January 1984, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle announced that expansion had been put on hold. As a result of that announcement, Indiana Pacers' owner Herb Simon contacted Colts officials in order to take negotiations between the club and Indianapolis to the next level. Mayor Hudnut then assigned deputy mayor David Frick to begin secret negotiations with Colts counsel Michael Chernoff. On February 13, Colts representatives came to town to look at the Hoosier Dome construction.[17] Colts owner Robert Irsay visited on February 23.

"He [Irsay] was visibly moved," former deputy mayor Dave Frick said commenting on Irsay's reaction to entering the brand new domed stadium. "Emotionally, he was making the move."[17] Meanwhile in Baltimore, the situation worsened. Eventually, the Maryland legislature intervened and on March 27, the Maryland Senate passed legislation giving the city of Baltimore the right to seize ownership of the team by eminent domain[8] (An idea first floated in a memo written by Baltimore mayoral aide Mark Wasserman). Robert Irsay said that his move was "a direct result" of the eminent domain bill and[11] Colts counsel Michael Chernoff would say of the move by the Maryland legislature "They not only threw down the gauntlet, but they put a gun to his head and cocked it and asked, 'Want to see if it's loaded?' They forced him to make a decision that day".[8][17]

On March 28 Phoenix businessmen withdrew their offer citing the recent legislative moves in Maryland[5] and Irsay called the Indianapolis Mayor that afternoon and began serious negotiations in order to move the team before the Maryland legislature's other chamber could pass similar legislation. The city of Indianapolis offered the Colts owner a $12,500,000 loan, a $4,000,000 training complex, and the use of the brand new $77.5 million, 57,980 seat Hoosier Dome.[18] After Irsay agreed to the deal, the Indianapolis Mayor called John B. Smith, his friend, neighbor and chief executive officer of Mayflower Transit, and 15 trucks were dispatched to the team's Owings Mills, Maryland training complex at 2:00 AM on March 29 because it was feared the franchise would be seized early the following morning.[17] Workers loaded all of the team's belongings and the trucks left for Indianapolis. By 10:00 AM, the Colts were completely gone from Baltimore.[19] Later that day the Maryland House of Delegates also passed the Eminent Domain bill by a vote of 103-19 and the legislation taking control of the Colts was sent to Maryland Governor Harry Hughes and signed.[20]

Departing Maryland, each of the Mayflower trucks took a slightly different route on the way to Indianapolis. This was done to confuse the Maryland State Police, who could've been called on to put a stop to the move. Once each van was at the Indiana state line, it was met by Indiana state troopers, who escorted each van to the Colts new home in Indianapolis. Later John Moag, Jr., chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, stated in sworn testimony before the U.S. Senate subcommittee responsible for the Fan Freedom and Community Protection Act: "It was the failure of our local (Baltimore) and state elected officials in Maryland to provide the Colts with a firm proposal for a new stadium that led Mr. Irsay to accept an offer from Indianapolis to play in a new dome in that city."[21]

Baltimore's Mayor Schaefer, who had been promised a call by Irsay if the team was to move (but never received one)[citation needed], appeared on the front page of the Baltimore Sun in tears. After the Colts left, and in spite of his earlier stance that the city of Baltimore would not build a new stadium,[10] he placed the building of a new stadium at the top of his legislative agenda.[11]

Indianapolis Mayor Hudnut held a press conference March 29 to announce an agreement had been reached and the team was on its way to Indianapolis. The deal was sealed March 30 with approval by the Capital Improvement Board, which operated the Hoosier Dome. Two days later, 20,000 new Colts fans cheered as Mayor Hudnut proclaimed March 29, 1984, "one of the greatest days in the history of this city.".[12]

Baltimore moves on

Understandably, Colts fans in Baltimore were heartbroken. In elections that year, city voters repealed Question P by a measure of 62 percent to 38 percent. However, the amendment's author Hyman Pressman remained as an elected City Comptroller for 28 years (7 terms in a row) until retiring in 1991.[22] The team's move triggered a flurry of legal activity, which ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court and bills were filed in both the U.S. House and Senate seeking to block the move. In December 1985, a U.S. District Court judge threw out the lawsuit which sought to return the team to Maryland. Later, representatives of Baltimore and the Colts organization reached a settlement in March 1986 in which all lawsuits regarding the relocation were dismissed, and the Colts would endorse a new NFL team for Baltimore.[17] Unfortunately, the Irsay family refused to adhere to the deal[citation needed] and during the 1993 NFL expansion the Irsays endorsed Jacksonville and Carolina for expansion franchises. Because of the manner in which the Irsay family treated the City of Baltimore, all of the Hall of Fame Baltimore Colts chose to cut all ties to the relocated Colts team[citation needed]. Most notable and vocal among them was Johnny Unitas, who declared himself solely as a player for the Baltimore Colts until the day he died, with his estate defending that stance to this day[citation needed]. However, the NFL officially recognizes his achievements and records as the history of the Colts organization and as such are attributed to the current Colts organization and not any subsequent NFL team in Baltimore.

On November 6, 1995, Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell announced his intention to move the Browns team to Baltimore after a stadium dispute. The decision, which involved secret discussions with the state of Maryland, also triggered a flurry of legal activity. Ironically, Modell had previously been staunchly against the relocation of sports teams, having heavily criticized Irsay's move in 1986.

As part of the agreement to end all litigation between Modell and Cleveland, Modell left the Browns' name, colors, and history of the franchise in Cleveland. Modell was allowed to take his players and organization to Baltimore, but it would be technically regarded as an expansion team. After Modell moved his franchise he offered Irsay $5 million to return the Colts history to Baltimore[citation needed]. Irsay requested $50 million[citation needed] so the new Baltimore team was named the Ravens after a fan vote.

The Colts' final game in Baltimore was played on December 18, 1983 against the Houston Oilers. The Colts won 20-10. The Oilers would thirteen years later, play their final game before moving to Tennessee against the Baltimore Ravens at Memorial Stadium (the now-Tennessee Titans are currently one of the Colts' division rivals). The Colts would not play another game in Baltimore until 1998. Since then, the Colts have played in Baltimore several more times during the regular season (most recently in 2009). The teams have had two playoff matchups during that time, one in Baltimore (2006) and one in Indianapolis (2009), where in the 2006-07 playoffs, the Ravens hosted the Colts in an AFC Divisional Playoff game (2006) and Colts hosted Ravens in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game. The Colts won the 2006 game en route to their first Super Bowl win since moving to Indianapolis. The current rivalry between the two teams is one-sided in favor of the Colts (who lead the series 9-2, all-time), meaning much more to the fans and players of the city of Baltimore[citation needed]. In Indianapolis, a game against the Ravens is viewed as nothing more than a non-divisional game. When the Colts play a game in Baltimore the name Colts is not used. The Colts are introduced as the Indianapolis professional football team and referred to as Indy on the stadium scoreboards.

In Indianapolis

1984–1989

In 1984, the Colts' first season in Indianapolis, Jim Irsay was named general manager of the team. Frank Kush was head coach—until the final game when he was replaced by Hal Hunter. Prior to the start of the season the team received 143,000 requests in two weeks for season tickets. The Colts had two first-round draft picks in 1984. They chose Leonard Coleman and Ron Solt. Coleman could not reach an agreement with the Colts until early in 1985, and spent 1984 playing in the USFL. Other notable picks that year included Kevin Call in the 5th round and Eugene Daniel in the 8th. The Colts finished the 1984 season with 4 wins and 12 losses.[17] Rod Dowhower was named head coach in 1985, but after two losing seasons, Dowhower was replaced by Ron Meyer in December 1986.[17]

Two weeks into the 1987 regular season the players went on a 24-day strike. One week of games was canceled, and for three weeks the teams played with replacement players. On October 31, the Colts obtained running back Eric Dickerson from the Los Angeles Rams for six draft picks and two players. The deal also involved Buffalo, sending Cornelius Bennett from the Colts to the Bills while Chuck Banks came to Indianapolis from the Houston Oilers. The Colts finished the season 9-6 and clinched the AFC East title but lost to the Cleveland Browns in the divisional playoff game.[17]

Because of the Dickerson trade, the Colts had no draft pick until the third round in the 1988 NFL Draft when they took quarterback Chris Chandler. In the Colts' first Monday Night Football appearance they defeated Denver 55-23 before a Halloween night crowd. Dickerson became the first Colt since Alan Ameche in 1955 to win the NFL rushing title. The Colts finished the season 9-7, and did not make the playoffs.[17]

1990-95

In 1990, the Colts traded Chris Hinton, 1989 first-round pick Andre Rison and draft picks to the Atlanta Falcons for the first pick of the 1990 draft so they could choose Indianapolis native and quarterback Jeff George. Eric Dickerson, after boycotting training camp and refusing to take physicals, was placed on the non-football injury list for six weeks. He was subsequently suspended four weeks for conduct detrimental to the team and forfeited $750,000 in wages and fines. The team finished the season 7-9.[17] The team further declined into 1991 and Meyer was fired on October 1 and replaced by Rick Venturi, his defensive coordinator. The Colts only won once in the 1991 season, only scoring a total of 146 points. Their lone win came against the playoff-bound New York Jets in Week 11. The Colts became the third consecutive team to finish a season at 1-15 (joining the 1989 Cowboys and 1990 Patriots).

On January 28, 1992, the Colts hired Ted Marchibroda, who had been serving as an assistant with the Buffalo Bills for the past five seasons, for his second stint as the team's head coach. In April, the Colts traded Eric Dickerson to the Los Angeles Raiders, ending his sometimes rocky 4 1/2 years with the team. On May 3, 1992, second-year defensive end Shane Curry was shot to death outside a Cincinnati nightclub in a dispute over a car blocking the nightclub's driveway. The Colts finished the season 9-7, marking the second time that Marchibroda led the Colts to an eight-game turnaround in his first year as their coach.[17] It wasn't enough, however, for the Colts to make the playoffs as they finished one game behind two of the AFC wild card teams.

Following a 4-12 season in 1993, running back Marshall Faulk was drafted second overall and linebacker Trev Alberts fifth overall in the 1994 NFL Draft. In March, Jeff George was traded to the Atlanta Falcons. Despite going undefeated in the preseason the Colts opened the regular season with an all-time low attendance of 47,372. The Colts, behind starting quarterback Jim Harbaugh, improved to 8-8, which was good enough for second place in the AFC East but not good enough to advance to the playoffs.[17]

1995

For the 1995 season, the Colts acquired Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Craig Erickson in a trade and signed him to a long term deal, but after three weeks Harbaugh regained the starting quarterback position. The move paid off as Harbaugh ended the season as the NFL's top-rated passer. The Colts advanced to the playoffs with a 9-7 record and earned the nickname "Cardiac Colts" thanks to their four come from behind victories and close games.

The Colts surprised many when they defeated the defending AFC Champion San Diego Chargers in their first playoff game 35-20. They then came from behind to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, who finished the season with the NFL's best record, the following week. This advanced the Colts to their first conference championship game since 1972, when they still played in Baltimore. Having defeated the AFC's #1 seed in the Chiefs, the Colts then traveled to Pittsburgh to face the AFC's #2 seed, the Steelers. Harbaugh and the Colts again were involved in a close game and held the lead three separate times in the game, but lost 20-16 after Harbaugh's attempted 29-yard Hail Mary pass on the final play of the game was dropped by Aaron Bailey in the end zone.[17]

1996

A month after the Colts' loss in the AFC Championship Game, trouble began brewing. Team owner Robert Irsay had suffered a stroke during the season that left him incapacitated, and while he convalesced a battle ensued for control of the team between Irsay's wife Nancy and his son, Colts general manager Jim Irsay. To further complicate matters, the Colts were forced to search for a new coach after Ted Marchibroda resigned following a contract dispute with the team, who had only offered him a one year extension. The team ended up promoting offensive coordinator Lindy Infante to the position while keeping him on as coordinator.[17]

With the draft pick the Colts obtained in the Jeff George trade, the team selected wide receiver Marvin Harrison with the 19th pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. The Colts continued their winning ways from the previous year, starting at 4-0 in 1996.[23] However, injuries began to plague the team and they went 5-7 following that. Their 9-7 record was enough to get them into the playoffs for the second consecutive year, and they faced the Steelers in the opening round. The Colts lost again, however, as Pittsburgh throttled them 42-14.[17]

In the offseason prior to the Colts' 1997 season, Jim Irsay won his legal battle and became sole owner of the team. Irsay, who was 37 at the time, became the youngest owner of an NFL team in history. He had been working with the team since 1982, and has become known as "The best small-market owner in the NFL."[24] After his father died, Jim immediately began to put his own seal on the team. Other NFL team owners "credit his work as an owner and his personality as a significant reason for awarding Indianapolis the 2012 Super Bowl, a rare honor for a cold-weather city."[24] Patriots Owner Robert Kraft: "I voted for Indianapolis because of Jim, because I like him and respect what he's done there."[24]

Irsay's first year as sole owner did not go well, however, as the Colts finished with the worst record in the NFL. The Colts only won three times in the 1997 season (although all three of those wins came against teams with winning records, including the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers), and wholesale changes were made following the season. Irsay hired Carolina Panthers general manager Bill Polian, who had won NFL Executive of the Year four times with the Panthers and Buffalo Bills, as the team's president and general manager. Polian promptly fired Infante as coach, released Harbaugh, and hired Jim Mora, Sr. as the team's new head coach.

The Peyton Manning era

Polian employed a strategy of rebuilding the Colts through the draft, and his first two first round picks as GM proved to be keys in the Colts' rise to their current status in the NFL. In 1998, Polian used the first pick in the draft to select University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning, son of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning.

While the Colts finished their first season under Polian at 3-13 again, success would come quickly after that.[17]

1998-99 offseason

The Colts traded Marshall Faulk to St. Louis two days before the draft and used their first-round draft pick in the 1999 NFL Draft to select running back Edgerrin James out of Miami, a surprise to many who thought they would take Texas running back Ricky Williams, the Heisman Trophy winner who was available. James caught on quickly and Manning and Marvin Harrison clicked as a potent passing combination.

1999

In what was the greatest one-year turnaround in NFL history, the Colts went 13-3 in 1999, tying a franchise record for most wins in a season, and won the AFC East. They finished tied for the second best record in the conference with the Tennessee Titans (who did not win their division), the second best record in the NFL with the Titans and St. Louis Rams, and earned a first-round bye. In the first ever playoff game in Indianapolis, however, the Colts fell 19-16 to the eventual AFC Champion Titans. Manning, James and Harrison earned Pro Bowl honors, while kicker Mike Vanderjagt won the NFL scoring title and James took home the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.[17]

2000

Both the team and their fans entered the 2000 season with high expectations after winning the AFC East with a 13-3 record in 1999. Eight games into the season the Colts were 6-2, though some of the wins had been heart-stoppers with last-minute heroics overcoming earlier mistakes. Then they lost four of the next five games, and suddenly even making it into playoffs was in doubt. With three games left in the season the Colts only chance was to win all three, which they did. The back-to-back 10-plus victory seasons were a first for the club since 1976-77. Manning (4,413) and James (1,709, 2,303) won the NFL passing, rushing and scrimmage yards titles. They earned a wild-card spot in the playoffs, but lost the game 23-17 to the Miami Dolphins. The organization entered the off-season knowing the area most in need of attention was the defense.[17]

2001

Wide receiver Reggie Wayne was selected with the 30th pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. In 2001, Manning passed for 4,131 yards and Harrison caught 109 passes. However, despite starting the year with two wins, the Colts finished the season 6-10 and Manning was plagued by turnovers. The team was also hurt by injuries throughout the season, the most serious occurring on October 25, when running back Edgerrin James tore his ACL in the sixth game of the 2001 season. Further, the Colts' defense ranked at or near the bottom in yards allowed (30th), takeaways (26th), and points allowed (31st). While backup Dominic Rhodes proved a capable starter in becoming the first undrafted rookie to rush for over 1000 yards the loss of James, a lack of special teams coherence, and the defense's shortcomings proved to be too much for Indianapolis to overcome. Mora was fired with one year remaining on his contract, reportedly over a disagreement with general manager Bill Polian regarding defensive coordinator Vic Fangio (although others point to his infamous rant concerning the Colts' playoff chances following a Week 11 loss to San Francisco where the offense turned the ball over five times including four interceptions by Manning).

2002

former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy

Shortly after Mora's firing, Tony Dungy, who had been coaching for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, became available after he was fired for failing to advance the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl. Irsay was so committed to bringing Dungy aboard that he, not Polian, initiated the contact. Late on January 19, 2002, Irsay phoned Dungy at his home in Tampa: "I just wanted him to know from the start that there was no other coach on the planet I wanted to coach my football team," Irsay said. "Not Steve Spurrier. Not Bill Parcells."[25]

In the draft that year the Colts selected Dwight Freeney, a defensive end from Syracuse, at number 11 overall. In a continuation of Polian's building through the draft philosophy that he had employed so well with Manning, James, and Wayne, Freeney became a defensive leader for the Colts and made an immediate impact. Because of the NFL realignment that took place following the addition of the Houston Texans to the league, the Colts moved from their longtime place in the AFC East to the AFC South. Marvin Harrison had a stellar year, breaking several club and NFL records, but Edgerrin James was hampered by injuries again. Freeney set an NFL rookie record in 2002 with nine forced fumbles, three of which occurred in a single game against former Syracuse football teammate, Donovan McNabb. However, despite all this not all the news was positive- Manning threw 19 interceptions, most of them in games the Colts went on to lose, and in a troubling pattern, the Colts repeatedly squandered the first half of a game, often falling so far behind that despite second half rallies, they could not overcome the deficit. Still, at 10-6 the Colts qualified for the playoffs and faced their former division rivals, the AFC East champion New York Jets, in their first game. Although the Colts were favored in the game, the Jets blew them out 41-0, with Manning still having yet to win a playoff game in what was now his fifth season.

2003

The Colts finished the 2003 season 14–5 - and won the AFC South with a regular season record of 12-4. Manning was named co-MVP of the NFL, along with Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair. In the playoffs, Manning and the Colts defeated the Denver Broncos 41–10, for their first playoff win since 1995 and Manning's first ever. They then defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City the next week in a high-scoring affair, 38–31. However, the Colts were unable to defeat the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots won the game 24–14 putting an end to the hopes of the team and the fans that this was the season the Colts would go all the way.[17]

2004

Safety Bob Sanders was selected in the 2nd round (44th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. The 2004 season saw the Colts win the AFC South again with a 12-4 record, but as in 2003 the Colts' season ended at the hands of the Patriots. After a year in which the offense broke numerous team and league records, the Colts could manage to score only one field goal in their final game, losing 20-3 in the Divisional Playoffs. For the second year in a row, Manning was named the league's MVP and his 49 regular-season touchdowns broke a record that Dan Marino had held since 1984. The wide receiving trio of Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley each had at least 10 touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards for the season—also a league first. Edgerrin James ended the season ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,548 yards, an average of 4.6 yards per carry. And although questions continued to surround the defense, Freeney led the league with 16 sacks.[17]

2005

In 2005, Dungy led the Colts to a franchise-record 14 wins and a third consecutive divisional title, the fifth for the club in its 22-year Indianapolis era. Manning and Marvin Harrison broke Steve Young and Jerry Rice's NFL record for most touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver tandem, notching their 86th in a Monday night home game against St. Louis Rams in week 6. Two weeks later Peyton Manning logged his first victory at New England against the Patriots, ending a six game New England win streak. After defeating Jacksonville in week 14 they became only the fourth team in NFL history to reach a record of 13–0 and clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The dream of a perfect record for the Colts ended the next week however as the San Diego Chargers defeated the Colts 26–17. In Week 16, the Colts played without coach Tony Dungy following the suicide of his son James earlier in the week. With the team resting most of their key players, the Colts lost their second straight to the eventual NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks. Dungy returned to the sidelines for the last regular season game as the Colts beat the Arizona Cardinals 17–13 while resting most of the team's usual starters. The team's final record of 14–2 marked the best 16-game season in the franchise's history.

However, the Colts failed to capitalize on their record-setting season and lost their first playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, 21–18. Trailing 21–10 late in the game, the Colts regained possession and put 8 points on the board to make it 21–18. After a Jerome Bettis fumble on the goal line, Nick Harper picked up the fumble and almost ran it back, but was tackled at the 40 yard line by Ben Roethlisberger. The Colts then drove down the field, only to have Mike Vanderjagt miss a 46-yard field goal attempt wide right.

2006

After becoming the first team in NFL history to begin two consecutive seasons by winning nine games to begin 2006, the Colts proceeded to lose three of the next four, largely because of the league's worst run defense. However, they still captured their fourth consecutive AFC South title by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football in week 15 of the season with, ironically, a strong showing from their defense. The Colts finished the season with a 12–4 record, giving them the number three seed in the playoffs. The record also marked their fifth consecutive season with ten victories or more. In week 13, against the Titans, the quarterback-wide receiver combination of Manning to Harrison became the all time leader in touchdowns in NFL history.[26]

In the Colts' first-round playoff game, they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 23-8, despite Manning throwing three interceptions. The Colts defense managed to hold the Chiefs to 44 yards on the ground and 2 yards passing in the first half. The Chiefs did not earn a first down until 3:33 remained in the third quarter. The Colts then defeated the AFC's #2 seed, the Baltimore Ravens, 15-6 in the divisional playoff round in Baltimore. Adam Vinatieri kicked five field goals and the defense did not allow a touchdown.

The Colts advanced to their second AFC Championship Game in three seasons, and thanks to their arch-rivals, the Patriots, defeating the AFC's top-seeded San Diego Chargers, the Colts would host the game in the RCA Dome. This marked the first time an AFC Championship game had taken place inside a domed stadium. After trailing 21–3 late in the first half, the Colts stormed back, defeating the arch-rival Patriots 38–34. The 18-point comeback was the largest ever in an NFL conference championship game, and tied the record for the fourth largest NFL postseason comeback.[27]

Super Bowl XLI
White House ceremony honoring the Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts defeated the Chicago Bears 29-17 on February 4, 2007 in Dolphin Stadium. Rain fell throughout the game for the first time in Super Bowl history, significantly contributing to the six turnovers committed by both teams in the first half. Manning was awarded the Super Bowl MVP after completing 25 of 38 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown, caught by Wayne.

Indianapolis became the first dome team to win a Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium, the first to win in the rain, and the first to win after having the statistically worst rushing defense in the league during the regular season. Tony Dungy became only the third man to have won the Super Bowl as both a head coach XLI and a player XIII} (along with Tom Flores IV-player, XV and XVIII-coach} and Mike Ditka VI-player, XX-coach}), as well as the first African-American Head Coach to win a Super Bowl (a distinction that would have occurred regardless of which team won, as the Bears were coached by another African-American coach, Lovie Smith). With the win the Colts became the only team to date to win a Super Bowl from the AFC South.

2007

In 2007, the Colts finished 13–3, winning a club-record fifth straight division title and becoming the first NFL team with five consecutive seasons with 12+ victories and became one of four NFL teams to open three consecutive seasons with 5–0 starts in topping Tampa Bay, 33–14. Indianapolis joined Green Bay (1929–31), Minnesota (1973–75) and St. Louis (1999–2001) with three straight 5–0 starts. And then becoming the first team in 76 years to start three consecutive seasons with 7–0 starts. Peyton Manning (288) broke the club record for career touchdown passes held by Johnny Unitas (287), while Tony Dungy notched his 74th win to break the franchise record he had shared with Don Shula (73) and Ted Marchibroda (73). The club fell in the Divisional Playoffs to the San Diego Chargers, 28–24. Dungy became the only coach in Colts history to post 10+ wins and earn playoff appearances in six straight seasons.

2008

The 2008 season was the Colts' inaugural season playing at the newly completed Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis lost its first home game ever at Lucas Oil Stadium 29-13 to the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football on the opening weekend of the 2008 NFL Season. It was the first season that the Colts did not win the AFC South title since 2002. After a 3–4 start on the season, the Colts went on a nine-game winning streak and finished the season at 12–4 and earned a wild card berth in the playoffs. They extended their league mark with six consecutive 12+ victory seasons. The club became the first in NFL history to win at least seven consecutive games in five consecutive seasons. Manning won his third NFL MVP award, but Indianapolis fell in the Wild Card Playoffs in overtime to the Chargers at San Diego, 23–17.

2009

Tony Dungy retired on January 12, 2009 and on January 13, Jim Caldwell who had been named his successor previously, was formally announced as the new head coach.

On December 13, 2009, by virtue of a win over the Denver Broncos, the Colts won their 22nd consecutive regular season game, setting a new NFL record for consecutive regular season wins.[28]

The Colts locked up a playoff spot and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They defeated the Baltimore Ravens by the score of 20-3 on January 16, 2010.

The Colts defeated the New York Jets 30-17 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 24, 2010 at the 2009 AFC Championship Game.

On February 7, 2010 the Colts played in Super Bowl XLIV against the New Orleans Saints. However, they lost the game 31-17.

Season-by-season records

Rivalries

New England Patriots

The rivalry between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots is one of the NFL's newest rivalries. The rivalry is fueled by the quarterback comparison between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady since both are noted for their organizational excellence. The Patriots owned the beginning of the series, defeating the Colts in six consecutive contests, including the 2003 AFC Championship game and a 2004 AFC Divisional game. The Colts won the next three matches, notching two regular season victories and a win in the 2006 AFC Championship game on the way to their win in Super Bowl XLI. On November 4, 2007 the Patriots defeated the Colts 24–20; in the next matchup, on November 2, 2008, the Colts won 18–15 in a game that was one of the reasons the Patriots failed to make the playoffs; in the most recent game, on November 15, 2009, the Colts staged a spirited comeback to beat the Patriots 35–34. The nature of this rivalry is coincidental because while the Colts and Patriots were division rivals from 1970 to 2001, it did not become prominent in league circles until after Indianapolis was relocated into the AFC South.

Earliest rivalries

In the years 1953-66 the Colts played in the NFL Western Conference (also known as division), but were never known to have a significant rivalry with any of the other franchises in that alignment, seeing as they were the eastern-most team and the rest of the division included the Great Lakes franchises Green Bay, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and after 1961, the Minnesota Vikings. The closest team to Baltimore was the Washington Redskins, but they were not in the same division, and they were not very competitive at that time.

New York Giants

In 1958 Baltimore played its first NFL Championship Game against the 10-3 New York Giants. The Giants qualified for the championship after a tie-breaking playoff against the Cleveland Browns. Having already been defeated by the Giants in the regular season, Baltimore was not favored to win, yet proceeded to take the title in sudden death overtime. The Colts then repeated the feat by posting an identical record and routing the Giants in the 1959 final. Up until the Colts' back-to-back titles, the Giants had been the premier club in the NFL, and would continue to be post-season stalwarts the next decade losing three straight finals. The situation was reversed by the end of the decade, with Baltimore winning the 1968 NFL title while New York would arrive at continuously less impressive results.

Miami Dolphins

Baltimores post NFL-AFL merger passage to the AFC saw them thrust into a new environment with little in common with its fellow divisional teams, the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and Boston Patriots. Powered by QB Earl Morrall Baltimore would be the first non-AFL franchise to win a division title in the conference, outlasting the Miami Dolphins by one game, and leading the division since Week 3 of 1970. The two franchises were denied a playoff confrontation by Miami's first-round defeat to the Oakland Raiders, whereas Baltimore would win its first Super Bowl title that year.

Yet in 1971 the teams were engaged in a heated race that went down to the final week of the season, where Miami won its first division title with a 10-3-1 title compared to the 10-4 Baltimore record after the Colts won the Week 13 matchup between them at home, but proceeded to lose the last game of the season to Boston. In the playoffs Baltimore advanced to the AFC title game after a 20-3 rout of the Cleveland Browns, whereas Miami survived a double-overtime nailbiter against the Kansas City Chiefs. This set up a title game that was favored for the defending league champion Colts. Yet Miami won the AFC championship with a 21-0 shutout and advanced to lose Super Bowl VI to Dallas. In 1975 Baltimore and Miami tied with 10-4 records, yet the Colts advanced to the playoffs based on a head-to-head sweep of their series. In 1977 Baltimore tied for first for the third straight year (in 1976 they tied with Boston) with Miami, and this time advanced to the playoffs on even slimmer pretences, with a conference record of 9-3 compared to Miami's 8-4, as they had split the season series. The rivalry would in the following years be virtually negated by very poor play of he Colts, including a 0-8-1 record during the NFL's strike shortened 1982 season. In 1995, now as Indianapolis, the two both posted borderline 9-7 records to tie for second against Buffalo, yet the Colts once again reached the post-season having swept the season series. The following season they edged out Miami by posting a 9-7 record and winning the ordinarily meaningless 3rd place position, but qualifying for the wild card. The last meaningful matchup between the two franchises would be in the 2000 season, when Miami edged out Indianapolis with an 11-5 record for the division championship. The two then met in the wild-card round where the Dolphins won 23-17 before being blown out by Oakland 27-0. In 2002 Indianapolis moved to the newly created AFC South division and the rivalry was effectively retired. Yet until then the two had had a lively history, based usually on Indianapolis owning slightly better regular season records, but Miami winning both post-season meetings.

Lucas Oil Stadium

After 24 years of playing at the RCA Dome, the Colts moved to their new home Lucas Oil Stadium in the fall of 2008. In December 2004, the City of Indianapolis and Jim Irsay agreed to a new stadium deal that would benefit both the city and the team at an estimated cost of $1 billion (Including Indianapolis Convention Center upgrades). In a deal estimated at $122 million, Lucas Oil Products won the naming rights to the stadium for 20 years.

It is a seven-level stadium which seats 63,000 for football. It can be reconfigured to seat 70,000 or more for NCAA basketball and football and concerts. It covers 1,800,000 square feet (167,000 m2). The stadium features a retractable roof allowing the Colts to play home games outdoors for the first time since arriving in Indianapolis. Using FieldTurf, the playing surface is roughly 25 ft (7.6 m) below ground level. In addition to being larger than the RCA Dome, the new stadium features: 58 permanent concession stands, 90 portable concession stands, 13 escalators, 11 passenger elevators, 800 restrooms, high definition scoreboards and replay monitors and 142 luxury suites. Other than being the home of the Colts, the stadium will host games in both the Men's and Women's NCAA Basketball Tournaments and will serve as the back up host for all NCAA Final Four Tournaments. The stadium will host the Super Bowl for the 2012 season (Super Bowl XLVI) and has a potential economic impact estimated at $286,000,000. Lucas Oil Stadium will also host the Drum Corps International World Championships from 2009 until 2018.

Logos and uniforms

The Colts' logo and uniforms have remained the same since the team's debut in 1953. The helmet is white with a speed blue single stripe & horseshoe logos. The blue jerseys have white shoulder stripes while the white jerseys have blue stripes. The team also wears white pants with blue stripes down the sides.

From 1982 through 1986, the Colts wore gray pants with their blue jerseys. The gray pants featured a horseshoe on the top of the sides with the player's number inside the horseshoe. The Colts continued to wear white pants with their white jerseys throughout this period, and in 1987, the gray pants were retired.

The Colts wore blue pants with their white jerseys for the first three games of the 1995 season, but then returned to white pants with both the blue and white jerseys. The team made some minor uniform adjustments before the start of the 2004 season, including reverting from blue to the traditional gray face masks, darkening their blue colors from a royal blue to speed blue, as well as adding two white stripes to the socks. In 2006, the stripes were removed from the socks.

In the early 2000s, the Colts made a minor striping pattern change on their jerseys, having the stripes only on top of the shoulders then stop completely. Previously, the stripes used to go around to underneath the jersey sleeves. This was done because the Colts, like many other football teams, were beginning to manufacture the jerseys to be tighter to reduce holding calls and reduce the size of the sleeves, although the reduction of the sleeve length had no impact on the stripes of the Colts jerseys. Although the white jerseys of the Minnesota Vikings at the time also had a similar striping pattern and continued as such (as well as the throwbacks the New England Patriots wore in the Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions in 2002), the Colts and most college teams with this striping pattern (most notably the LSU Tigers football team) didn't make this adjustment. Replica jerseys sold for retail still have the original striping pattern, though authentic game-day worn jerseys do have the partial striping pattern of the current jerseys.

The 2010 season will see the Colts with an “updated” third jersey.[29]

Players

Current roster

Indianapolis Colts roster
Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen

Linebackers

Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve Lists
  • Currently vacant


Restricted FAs


Rookies in italics
Roster updated March 12, 2010
Depth ChartTransactions

59 Active, 0 Inactive, 5 FAs

More rosters

Pro Football Hall of Famers

Baltimore
Indianapolis

Retired numbers

Baltimore
Indianapolis
  • (none)

However, the Colts Ring of Honor includes:

First-round draft picks

Coaches

Head coaches

Current staff

Indianapolis Colts staff
Front Office
  • Owner/CEO – Jim Irsay
  • President – Bill Polian
  • Senior Executive Vice President – Pete Ward
  • Executive Vice President – Bob Terpening
  • Vice President/General Manager – Chris Polian
  • Director of Football Administration – Steve Champlin
  • Director of Player Personnel – Tom Telesco
  • Director of Pro Player Personnel – Clyde Powers

Head Coaches

Offensive Coaches

 

Defensive Coaches

  • Defensive Coordinator – Larry Coyer
  • Defensive Line – John Teerlinck
  • Linebackers – Mike Murphy
  • Defensive Backs – Alan Williams
  • Special Assistant to the Defense – Rod Perry
  • Defensive Assistant – Bill Teerlinck

Special Teams Coaches

  • Special Teams Coordinator – Ray Rychleski

Strength and Conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – Jon Torine
  • Assistant Strength and Conditioning – Richard Howell


Coaching Staff
Management
More NFL staffs

Radio and television

The Colts' flagship station from 1984-1998 and again starting in the 2007 season is WIBC 1070AM (renamed WFNI as of December 26, 2007); under the new contract, games are simulcast on WLHK 97.1 FM. From 1998 through 2006, the Colts' flagship station was WFBQ 94.7FM (with additional programming on WNDE 1260AM). Bob Lamey is the team's play-by-play announcer, holding that title from 1984 to 1991 and again since 1995. Former Colts offensive lineman Will Wolford serves as color commentator. Former head coach Ted Marchibroda of both Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts franchises, who served as color commentator from 1999 to 2006, serves as an analyst on their pre-game show. Mike Jansen serves as the public address announcer at all Colts home games. Mike has been the public address announcer since the 1998 season.

Preseason games not shown on national television are seen locally on WTTV-4, Indiana's 4. Indiana Hoosiers announcer Don Fischer provides play-by-play. Regular-season Monday Night and NFL Network games are simulcast on WNDY-23 and WTHR-13, respectively.

References

  1. ^ "A look at the history of the Indianapolis Colts". http://colts.com/sub.cfm?page=football_dynamic&id=174. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Baltimore Colts (1953-1983)". Sportsecyclopedia.com. http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/balticolts/baltcolts.html. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  3. ^ Sandomir, Richard (2008-12-04). "The ‘Greatest Game’ in Collective Memory". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/sports/football/05sandomir.html?em. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  4. ^ "No Kick, No Classic". espn.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/feature/index?page=greatestgame. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Colts Stadium Rent To Rise". google.com. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=XsAiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=VLYFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3844,9811196&dq=carol+rosenbloom+memorial+stadium&hl=en. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  6. ^ "Colts May Build Own Stadium". google.com. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=hMcpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=xooDAAAAIBAJ&pg=2943,4634019&dq=carol+rosenbloom+stadium&hl=en. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Descendants of the Mayflower by Michael Devitt". Members.tripod.com. http://members.tripod.com/~bonesaw/records6.htm. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  8. ^ a b c d e E.M. Swift (1986-12-15). "Getting a fix on Indianapolis Colts owner Bob Irsay's - 12.15.86 - SI Vault". Vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com. http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1065650/2/index.htm. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "GoogleBook: Glory For Sale". Books.google.com. 1972-08-15. http://books.google.com/books?id=u5sKmJItUF4C&pg=PA112&lpg=PA112&dq=baltodome&source=bl&ots=fTv7Wkhhyu&sig=4H91CQHhg2cnjz_kwDJzg6AO0So&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
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  13. ^ http://www.stadiumsofnfl.com/past/MemorialStadium.htm Stadiums of the NFL — Memorial Stadium
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  15. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE; New Talks on Colts". New York Times. 1984-02-28. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05E5D61739F93BA15751C0A962948260. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
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  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Indianapolis Colts History". .indystar.com. http://www2.indystar.com/library/factfiles/sports/football-pro/indpls_colts/history/colts.html. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  18. ^ Ackermann, Guy. "Moving the Company". Siteselection.com. http://www.siteselection.com/bonus/2001/sep/guestcolumn.htm. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  19. ^ "The Greatest Game Ever Played" documentary on ESPN, 2008-12-13
  20. ^ "Now they’re the Indianapolis Colts". google.com. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=EMoRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=8u4DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6516,7473117&dq=hudnut+new+dome&hl=en. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  21. ^ "No. 76 Should Congress Stop the Bidding War for Sports Franchises? Volume 3: Municipal Authorities - by Congressional testimony - Policy Studies". Heartland.org. 1995-11-29. http://www.heartland.org/publications/policy%20studies/article.html?articleid=9482. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  22. ^ "The Next Mayor Is...: ...Out There Somewhere. Who Wants the Job, And Who Could Actually Win It? | Baltimore City Paper". Citypaper.com. http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=11822. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
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  24. ^ a b c Colts' Jim Irsay Profiled As One Of The NFL's Savviest Owners http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/article/123962
  25. ^ USA Today-Dungy inherits high-powered offense. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/nfl/colts/2002-01-22-dungy.htm
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  27. ^ 2006 NFL Record and Fact Book. p. 347. ISBN 1-933405-32-5. 
  28. ^ "Manning, Colts fortify legacy with 22nd straight regular-season win". ESPN.com. 2009-13-12. 
  29. ^ "There’s No Service Like Wire Service, Vol. 6". http://www.uniwatchblog.com/. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 

External links

Achievements
Preceded by
Pittsburgh Steelers
2005
Super Bowl Champions
Indianapolis Colts

2006
Succeeded by
New York Giants
2007

Simple English

The Indianapolis Colts are an American football team in Indianapolis, Indiana. They play in the National Football League. They were originally the Baltimore Colts. The team moved to Indianapolis in 1984. Their quarterback is Peyton Manning.

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