Every time the Colts play the Ravens in Baltimore, you can count on a few things…a tough, physical game…loud, passionate fans…and shots of those Mayflower moving vans in the media coverage. That’s just how it is. This weekend is no different. And the fact that it’s a playoff game means you can double that. All of it.
We all know the story. In the early hours of March 29, 1984, the Baltimore Colts packed up those Mayflower vans “under a cover of darkness” and moved to become the Indianapolis Colts. They took everything, the team, the name, the history…everything but the fans. The city was left brokenhearted and without an NFL team until 1996, when Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore…to become the Ravens.
When the subject comes up, and it always does when the Colts and Ravens play, what I hear mostly from Colts fans is…“It’s been more than 20 years. Get over it.” And I agree. To a point. You see, I have some history with losing a team and it gives me some perspective on the matter.
I grew up in Minnesota. The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Like all Minnesotans, I grew up a hockey fan. Hockey is to Minnesota what basketball is to Indiana…everything. In fact, I didn’t really follow basketball until I moved to Indiana because I never realized there was another sport in the winter. I kid…kind of.
Like basketball in Indiana, hockey in Minnesota was born in the small towns. Parents hovered around outdoor ice rinks to watch their pee-wees play. Fans packed crowded ice rinks on cold, dark nights to cheer on their high school teams. During the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament, kids were excused from school to go watch the tournament, we filled out our brackets in class, and you couldn’t walk into a business that didn’t have the game on…somewhere. That passion translated to college hockey and our NHL team…the Minnesota North Stars.
So imagine our shock and disbelief when in 1993, Owner Norm Green moved the team to Dallas…Texas! And for all the same reasons the Colts moved to Indianapolis. Yes, the Minnesota North Stars became the Dallas Stars. And Minnesota, the land where kids gave birth to the sport on its 10,000 frozen lakes, had no professional hockey team. Until 2000, when the NHL granted it an expansion team.
Much like Baltimore, the people of Minnesota have embraced the Wild. They love their team and support it wholeheartedly. But like Ravens fans, there are some who will never get over the loss of the Minnesota North Stars.
I chose to move on…to football.
And I think Ravens fans will move on too…when they win another Super Bowl. But to do that this year, they’re going to have to go through the Colts.
The Indianapolis Colts.