What's in a name? Just everything, pal!

July 07, 1994|By Bill Tanton

Enough of this business about the Colts' name. It's time to clear up this nonsense.

Here we have the Baltimore Canadian Football League team, in Toronto for tonight's league opener against the Argonauts in Skydome, and our team still has no nickname.

Get real.

A judge in Indianapolis rules that the name Colts cannot be used by a CFL team in Baltimore because it belongs to the Indianapolis NFL team.

Anybody surprised?

If the matter had been heard by a Baltimore judge, is there any doubt what the ruling would have been?

People are getting goofy about this name thing.

What do they mean, we can't have a CFL team called the Colts?

Don't they realize the CFL already is using NFL names -- Jets (Winnipeg) and Lions (British Columbia)?

Nicknames obviously aren't such a big deal in the CFL; otherwise, the league wouldn't have two teams named the Rough Riders. So to speak.

Actually, the Rough Riders (two words) are Ottawa's team; the Roughriders (one word) are Saskatchewan's.

And just who does the NFL think it is, telling the CFL what to do?

Don't those old Baltimore favorites, Paul Tagliabue and Bob Irsay, realize the CFL is 102 years old, compared to the NFL's 75?

This whole thing is getting ridiculous. It didn't have to be this way.

The day Baltimore team owner Jim Speros announced his football team would be called the Colts, I thought he had made a mistake. I thought he should have chosen another name and given this team its own identity.

The Baltimore Colts are Unitas, Donovan, Berry, Moore, Marchetti and Parker. They're the real Colts. These 1994 Baltimore players are something else. Or so it seemed to me.

When it became evident there would be legal action over the use of the name, I was even more convinced it had been wrong to hold out for the name Colts.

I was wrong.

I came to realize that at the CFL team's exhibition game against Winnipeg at Memorial Stadium last week.

Colts is so much more than just another team name in our town. It has become a rallying cry. The 28,798 spectators at the Stadium that night proved that once again.

Their greatest pleasure, it seemed to me, was shouting aloud the name that was made famous in Baltimore -- "Colts!"

Whenever the P.A. announcer would refer to "your Baltimore CFL . . ." and hesitate, the crowd would roar "COLTS!"

No court ruling was going to silence those people. No judge in Indianapolis was going to tell them they could no longer call their team the Colts.

One of the highlights of the exhibition game came during the pregame ceremonies when the blue and white clad bandsmen spread in formation across the field and began marching toward the south goal.

"Ladies and gentlemen," boomed the voice on the P.A., "presenting your Baltimore Colt Marching Band!"

The crowd went wild.

I saw that same spirit this week at the Fourth of July parade in Towson.

Around the corner and onto Washington Avenue in order to pass by the Court House came the same bandsmen in their blue and white.

On the reviewing stand, master of ceremonies Alan Walden, of WBAL, bellowed: "The Baltimore Colt Marching Band!"

Again the crowd went wild.

Walden sensed the mood of the parade goers.

"The name belongs to us!" he declared.

Again there was thunderous applause. Again the people showed the passion they feel for the beloved name Colts.

That's what makes a great sports franchise: passion.

It's not enough to hire professional athletes and give them a name -- Lions? Tigers? Whatever.

Somehow, the public's passion must be aroused, as it most decidedly was when the NFL Colts played here.

There's only one sporting way to settle all this:

Let's have a game between the Baltimore CFL Colts and the Indianapolis NFL Colts, the winner to keep the name.

I realize you can't have a fair game with 12 players on one side, 11 on the other. There are other things that would have to be negotiated, such as getting three downs or four, which size field to use, etc. Those things are technical.

Play the game at a neutral site, of course. That would clinch it for Baltimore.

I don't think there would be 20 people from Indianapolis who would travel to see a name game.

Those Indianians have no passion for the name Colts. They have very little passion for their team -- period.

Many thousands of Baltimoreans would travel to see such a game. They would go anywhere, and they would scream their lungs out. They have the passion.

Why should Indianapolis agree to such a game?

Well, by winning they could get rid of a problem.

If we lose, we'll shut up and go away. The Colts name will be theirs.

But if we win, it's ours forever, as it should be.

There's no way we would lose a game with this on the line. These diehard Baltimore Colts fans wouldn't permit it.

Gimme a C!

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