Monday, February 05, 2007

Monday Morning Quarterback

The family watched the Super Bowl last night. We had a good time cheering for the teams. Wizard cheered loudly for the Colts, but I did not. Truthfully, the Colts played a superior game in clearly inferior weather conditions. Both head coaches were impressive for their gentlemanly leadership of their teams.

I, however, would not, could not root for the Colts. Why? Because they were the Baltimore Colts until their owner swept them out of the city in the dark of night. Robert Irsay, a Hungarian Jew who denied his roots – don't get me started – originally owned the Los Angeles Rams football franchise. In 1972, he traded franchises with Carroll Rosenbloom, who then owned the Colts. Irsay's Colts played in old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore for many years. The Colts negotiated for months with the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland for improvements to Memorial Stadium. They could not reach an agreement, but the city and state were willing to seize the franchise and its assets by eminent domain in order to keep it in Baltimore. Meanwhile, Irsay had secretly been speaking with the City of Indianapolis to move the team there. When negotiations finally broke down and Irsay feared the seizure of his precious team assets, he finalized a deal with Indianapolis. Irsay called his crony at Mayflower Transit and had Mayflower pack and move the entire Colts operation in the middle of a cold March night in 1984. Baltimoreans watched in horror as the stream of red taillights fled Charm City for good. No good Marylander, as I was bred, would ever root for the traitors.

I should add here that my extended family and I were never really Baltimore Colts fans, but with good reason. We were/are dedicated Washington Redskins' fans. My family had season tickets back in the early 1970s, in the Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer years. We knew the conductor of the Redskins band. But most of all, my mother's brother was the in-stadium announcer for the Washington Redskins for nearly 40 years. Uncle P never missed a home game, although he cut many family functions short to be at the stadium on time. When Dan Snyder bought the Redskins and moved them from RFK (in DC) to FedEx Field (in Landover, Maryland of all places), he forced my uncle into retirement, but not before the Redskins inducted Uncle P into its Hall of Fame. He is the first the first non-player/coach/owner to be honored by the team in its Hall of Fame. We will always root for the Redskins, although not so much for Dan Snyder.

A clarification: while I called myself a Marylander here, I identify myself as a native Washingtonian (DC). I was actually born in the District of Columbia and grew up in the nearby suburbs. My mother grew up in Upper Northwest and lived in the DC area for 67 years, until she and my dad retired to Florida. My mother's parents had a store in downtown Washington from the 1930s to the 1950s, when they moved out to Chevy Chase, Maryland. We lived right outside the District and never really identified with Baltimore, except for when it came to baseball, and much later on, to football. Oh, and of course, to Ledo's Pizza, but that's a post for another day.

So, congratulations to the Colts on their Super Bowl victory. I don't like your owner, but I applaud the team and its coaching staff.

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