Thursday, October 15, 2009
All Is Now Forgiven With The Irsay Family From A Childhood Baltimore Colts Fan
As a child I grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore. I remember well the excitement in 1958 when the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” was unfolded before us all in Baltimore. This is when the underdog, “The Baltimore Colts,” beat the much favored “New York Giants,” for the nationally televised championship football game.
So many future Hall Of Fame players like Frank Gifford, Rosey Brown, Sam Huff, Don Maynard, Andy Robustelli, and Emlen Tunnell played on this Giants team. On the other hand Baltimore had only been in the league for 6 seasons as an expansion team. Coached by Weeb Ewbanks who had future Hall Of Fame players like the GREAT Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Alan “The Horse” Ameche, Lenny Moore, Gino Marchetti, and Don Joyce. Football historians have given the credit to Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry for inventing the “2 minute drill.”
Yes in 1953 the Baltimore Colts, (who use to be the Dallas Texans and were moved to Baltimore), were now here in 1958 playing for the National Football League Championship. The Colts name came about because of the tradition of Baltimore’s rich history with racing, and breeding of horses. The obvious example of this history being the second leg of the triple crown, “The Preakness Stakes.”
The game was played on December 28, 1958 at Yankee Stadium in New York. The 1958 game was the 26th annual NFL championship game. To add to this drama, this was the first nationally televised Championship Football game and the game played out better than if someone had written a suspenseful script. The Colts beat the Giants 23-17 in overtime, earning their first ever championship. The game would later be known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played!” Then as if to prove that they were not just a fluke, there was a rematch between the two teams in 1959 and the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants again by a score of 31 to 16.
The Colts went on to play and win many Championships and later Super Bowls establishing many memories to the young “Engineer of Knowledge.” As a child playing quarterback in little league football teams in the area…I did not know any better than my heroes who played for the Colts….that they did not walk on water.
I remember all too well my father, a physical education major school teacher, surprised me one Sunday in 1967 and took me to Memorial Stadium to see the Baltimore Colts play the Minnesota Vikings. We sat on the 50 yard line, 6 rows back from the field, and I watched Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry work their magic. The tickets cost $7.00 each and I can say that this day was one of the best days of my life!
Well I can only say that it is hard to describe the feeling when Bob Irsay, with Mayflower moving vans, snuck away in the dead of that cold, snowy night; and stole my Baltimore Colts along with my fondest childhood memories, to Indianapolis. Little did anyone know on that December 18, 1983, the Colts would play their final game in Baltimore. Almost after the season ending win at Memorial Stadium; Colts owner Robert Irsay began talking to other cities about moving the club. On February 13th he toured the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis and the rest is history.
To this day football fans in Baltimore still burn in effigy the image of Bob Irsay. Even though we are now Baltimore Raven’s football fans, “named after the Edgar Allen Poe poem, “The Raven,” still will not forgive and move on past their distain and hatred of anyone with the Irsay family name.
By now you must be asking, “Engineer, where are you going with this story and isn’t your title, “All Is Now Forgiven?” My answer to you is “YES.” I can say today that on a personal level, I can forgive the son Jim Irsay for his father’s sins of stealing my Baltimore Colts and childhood memories because Jim, as the owner of the Colts and with the foresight of what is best for the NFL; VOTED AGAINST RUSH LIMBAUGH FROM OWNING THE ST. LOUIS RAMS!!!!!
I want to say to Jim Irsay that he has single handily with his vote restored my faith in professional football and enabled me to release my resentment and inwardly held anger after these so many years. In closing I want to say “THANK YOU” and may nothing but good things happen for you in the future.