Colts is the name -- period LLTC

John Steadman

November 30, 1992|By John Steadman

Finding a name for Baltimore's new football team is easy. Cal them the Colts. That's our Baltimore birthright. As for Indianapolis, let it cash in by doing an immense favor for itself. It desperately needs to create an identity of its own. Get another name, instead of using stolen property. Then let Baltimore have what it rightfully deserves.

Such a move is supported by logic, reason and, yes, even a profound sense of decency. Indianapolis would be doing what is fit and proper. And the action would allow it to ease out of some of the shame and embarrassment connected with the way the team was summarily pulled away under the cover of darkness.

Baltimore, in turn, would be receiving what it originated, the Colts name. The National Football League should want this to happen if for no other reason than to remove some of the stigma it has had to live with since the infamous night of March 28, 1984, when a team that was based in Baltimore for 35 years,

known as the Colts, left like a thief in the night.

For the NFL, the move and use of the Colts' name in Indianapolis is a biting reminder of what continues to represent one of the lowest points in its 72-year history. The name Colts and Baltimore are synonymous.

Indianapolis desperately needs to have a fresh start. A marketing plan could be undertaken that would revive interest, spur ticket sales and bring about a "new beginning" in Indianapolis.

Why is there attention to such a subject at this time? Only because NFL Properties, the merchandising arm of the league, is interested in hearing recommendations from the would-be expansion cities as to possible team colors, logos and nicknames. This is all rather premature because the expansion process hasn't been implemented.

But it will be. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue wants it to happen and the five cities that have met all the conditions of gaining an expansion team can't continue to be kept on hold. Meeting the timetable of 1995 expansion is likely because the players association and the league realize an agreement is going to be made. If not, then the court will do it for them.

Indianapolis and the NFL need to be reminded how important that name Colts is to Baltimore. It was selected in a public contest in 1947, and the tag couldn't have been more appropriate.

Colts suggested a young thoroughbred, reminded the world of Baltimore's love of the horse and had only five units for a newspaper headline. It was a perfect match. Indianapolis and the horseless carriage, the automobile, have a similar connection, but in Baltimore the name Colts was a natural.

The logo the Indianapolis team uses was made in Baltimore. The league and NFL Properties had nothing to do with it. It came about after 1,887 entries came in a contest staged by the original team owner, Bob Rodenberg, and was the suggestion of Charles Evans, who lived in the Victory Villa section of Baltimore County.

The jury for picking the winning name was made up of one sportswriter, N. P. "Swami" Clark; radio-TV announcers Bailey Goss, Eddie Fenton, Nick Campofreda and Nelson Baker, plus Baltimore business leaders Sam Hammerman and Bob Swindell. was a commendable effort by all involved.

Rodenberg once joked with a Los Angeles sportswriter, Vincent X. Flaherty, and suggested he was going to name the new Baltimore club after Seabiscuit, winner of a famous match race over War Admiral in 1938, but that was total spoof. Rodenberg, to his credit, left it up to committee to pick the name and didn't attempt to offer any personal pressure, since he was an outlander from Washington.

The Colts' name and logo belong where they began. It would be good for the franchise in Indianapolis, for Baltimore and the National Football League. Since moving out of Baltimore, the team has struggled in every way. It's as if having the Colts' name affixed to the property in Indianapolis is a problem that won't go away.

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