Colts Owner Jim Irsay set the Twitterverse streaming again this week. But this time it wasn’t his song lyrics, contests, or somewhat controversial musings that set the stage. Rather, it was his team’s reaction to the NFL’s new 85% rule regarding blackouts for home games.
The new rule allows local teams to televise games that are 85% sold out (with a per seat penalty). The Colts said thanks…but no thanks. Meaning, if Lucas Oil Stadium is not completely sold out, the game will not be televised on local TV. This isn’t something the team or fans have had to worry about for years. Success and the Peyton Manning era pretty much filled the RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium for more than a decade. But after Manning’s injury, a 2-14 season, and his ultimate release, the Colts still have around 2,000 tickets left for the 2012-2013 season.
Fans expressed their outrage, many feeling their team had turned on them. The way I see it…it’s the other way around. Here is a team that brought us so much success over the years, gave us Peyton Manning, won a Superbowl (and played in another), two AFC Championships, made the playoffs for nine straight seasons…need I go on? During the height of success, there was a season ticket waiting list of more than 25,000. The first losing season and we’re not even selling out games? Come on, Colts fans. We’re better than this.
Haven’t we said this is a football town now? Didn’t we just host the Superbowl? Didn’t we earn a reputation as one of the most difficult away game venues? How do you do all that? By filling seats! Let’s leave the half full stadiums and blacked out games to Cincinnati, Jacksonville, and Tampa Bay.
The Colts made some tough decisions in the offseason. They may not have been popular with everyone, but even the skeptics are saying the Colts are positioned well for the future. The most promising quarterback to come out of the draft since Peyton Manning is Andrew Luck, and he is now…a Colt. Those often injured players who couldn’t seem to make it to the bye week are…gone. That small, quick defense that never seemed to get the job done…replaced. By bigger, stronger guys. Even the offensive line has beefed up. We have a new, more transparent management in place, fresh leaders…who are called “players’ coaches” already. It hasn’t been easy, but the Colts took the best people they could find, put them together, and will meet at training camp in Anderson in just a few weeks to start forming the makings of a team. And that’s where we come in.
The Colts have done their part, now we fans need to do ours. We need to be at training camp, welcoming the new faces into our Colts family. We need to don our Colts wear with pride, get excited about the coming season, and rally the troops. And on game day…we need to be there. In our stadium. Loud and proud. Because we’re Colts fans. And that’s what we do.