Tonight is the 30th anniversary of the Colts’ midnight move from Baltimore to Indianapolis.  It’s hard to imagine Indy without the Colts, and it took less than three decades for the franchise to firmly root itself into this town’s fabric.  In 2014, you can’t have a conversation with an out-of-towner about Indianapolis without eventually mentioning the Colts.  They have become as identifiable with this city and the state as pork tenderloins, the Indy 500, and the movie ‘Hoosiers’.

Today's anniversary means the Colts have now been in Indianapolis (1984-present) for as many years as they were in Baltimore (1953-83).  They’ve played more games here, and have had more winning seasons here.  In those thirty years, the Colts have become ours, and because of that fact, it’s time for Jim Irsay to give Baltimore back what’s theirs.

This isn’t about throwing a bone to the football fans in Baltimore.  I don't feel sorry for those still harboring ill-feelings towards Indianapolis because of "the move" in '84. Baltimore took their own team a dozen years after losing the Colts, and have enjoyed two Lombardi Trophies since.  However, unlike the Irsays, the Ravens didn't take the name or the history of the Browns - they left it in Cleveland, where it belongs.  Even though the Ravens technically began in 1996, that city had a thirty-year football history with the Baltimore Colts.

When I thumb through the Colts’ Gameday program each Fall, I always laugh when I read about Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore, Lydell Mitchell, Super Bowl V, and The Greatest Game Ever Played as if any of those players and moments resonate at all to Colts’ fans or this city today.  They don’t.  None of those players played here.  None of those games were won here.  Those aren’t Indianapolis’ accomplishments, nor are those legends beloved sports figures in this town. You know where those accomplishments and players matter?  Baltimore.  To 99.9% of the 70,000 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium at a Colts’ home game, the Colts began in 1984 and that's when their relevance begins.  

The fact is that the Indianapolis Colts have built their own brand - independent of the Baltimore version.  This is a franchise that has won a Super Bowl (SB XLI), been to another (SB XLIV), and won six more division championships (10) in Indianapolis than they won in their three decades in Baltimore (4).  They’ve made the playoffs in fourteen of the past sixteen years, and turned in the winningest decade in NFL history (2000s) with their own all-time great quarterback (Peyton Manning) winning a record-setting four MVPs.  Chris Hinton (outside of his rookie season), Jim Harbaugh, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, and Edgerrin James, and Jeff Saturday are all Indianapolis Colts, as are Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis.  A $720M stadium that hosted a Super Bowl – previously unheard of in a small-market, northern city – was built because of them.  You could argue that a big reason why Indianapolis is the booming metropolis it is today is because the Colts came here. 

The Baltimore Colts are the Baltimore Colts, and the Indianapolis Colts are the Indianapolis Colts.  They’ve won championships and had legendary players in both cities.  Baltimore still hates the late Bob Irsay, and Johnny Unitas wanted nothing to do with Indianapolis.  There is no reason to keep forcing these separate entities into one. 

Give Baltimore back what’s theirs, Jim.  Indianapolis has their own Colts.

DS