My children have no choice.
They are Colts fans. They were born that way.
Most of us over the age of 25 weren't born Colts fans. The team arrived in 1984, and the first generation of Colts fans all have that one moment or moments when they truly became fans. I grew up wearing a Chicago Bears jacket before I even knew what football was. Lots of kids in Indy did. For me there were a couple of defining moments, which I talk about in my book, Blue Blood (you really didn't expect to get through this post without a plug did you?). Going to my first game was a thrill, but the moment that really sold me was walking into the library at elementary school IPS #84 (Go Bingham Bears!) and seeing Sports Illustrated with Eric Dickerson on the cover. For me that flipped a switch. The Colts were my team. I was there when they clinched the playoff spot at the end of the '87 season. I cried after they lost in the playoffs. Over the next eight seasons I became a die hard. We started going to every game once my aunt moved out of Indy and let us buy her tickets. By the time Harbaugh started his comebacks, I was in college and in the tank for the Horse.
Some of us loved the Colts before they ever came to Indianapolis. I really admire those who didn't quit on the team after the move. Ben G writes this story:
My dad was in the Navy and stationed in Hawaii when I was born. Nothing great, only there from 0 to 4 yrs, and only remember sand in my diaper. My older brother, who was born in Texas, constantly gave me grief growing up because his state had two NFL teams – and mine had zero – and probably always would. In 1972 the Baltimore Colts won Super Bowl V with a last second kick by Jim O’Brian over the Dallas Cowboys. My brother cried and my love affair with the Colts began. Now, God did punish me with several down years for the Colts after that – but I remained faithful through all the ups and downs. So these past years have been AWESOME!!
I love Ben's story, because it says so much about why teams mean something to us. There are times when it feels like they are playing just for us. They are settling our scores and defending our honor. It's silly and it's kid's folly for sure, but it also explains why we can be so loyal for so long. I love the long suffering fan. God knows I am one myself.
Still others are more recent members of the Colts stable. Let's face it, the Colts are easy to like. They've become something of a bandwagon team nationally. I love hearing stories like Jean from Ft. Wayne:
Before I became exclusively a Colts fan: For a long time I followed the Colts, with their hot and cold running stars (Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk), along with other teams that had players I liked: Joe Montana at Kansas City, for example, and Rod Woodson wherever he was. (I was teaching at Snider High School in Fort Wayne while Rod was a student there. I never had him in class, but I remember timing a home track meet and for the first time seeing him run hurdles. At that point I KNEW that he would be great!)
However, I became a big fan of Peyton Manning while he was a sophomore at U Tennessee, and I followed his career there (including never being able to beat Florida) until he entered the NFL draft. I've always said that I would have been a fan of whatever team Peyton ended up playing for, but the hapless (at that time) Colts had the #1 pick and drafted my favorite player. Lucky me, and lucky Indianapolis fans. Also--I've also always been grateful that the Colts didn't pick Ryan Leaf! In fact, I have awakened from a recurring nightmare in which the Colts draft Leaf instead of Peyton Manning. What a disaster!
It's awesome that so many people are new Colts fans. Peyton is single handedly responsible for a lot of that. There are pockets of Horse Nation in Tennessee and Louisiana now because of Peyton. That's part of why I wrote Blue Blood (link count: 2). Maybe it's naive, but I don't want those fans to evaporate once 18 retires. The book was my way of saying, "Welcome to the family. Here's what you missed!". Just because someone jumped on the band wagon doesn't mean they have to jump off!
Yes, most of us were made Colts fans. Whether it was before the move, just after, or when Peyton came along, we all have that moment. What really makes me happy is that these kids won't ever remember a time when they had another team.
They were born with blue blood.
(even I have enough shame not stick a link on that)