Mayflower moved by opportunity Maligned truck firm hopes for redemption

November 07, 1995|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,SUN STAFF

So who's going to move the Browns into town? Unload their gear at the team's Owings Mills complex? In daylight, no less?

Would the folks who whisked the Colts away 11 years ago care to, um, square things?

"What a great idea!" exclaimed Carl Walter, a vice president for Mayflower Transit. "Got their [the Browns'] number?"

Add Mayflower to the list of firms hoping to profit from the Browns' shift to Baltimore. Except that image, more than cash, is at stake here.

Mayflower has been under siege since 1984, when its vans smuggled the Colts out of town after curfew. More than a decade later, the Indianapolis-based moving company continues to receive flak from embittered Marylanders.

"We still get grief from people in that neck of the woods," Walter said. "Sometimes, we take heat when we show up for jobs."

d,3 Reaction is often the same, said Jay Hott of Baltimore Storage, local agent for Mayflower: "People see our trucks, our jackets, our hats and say, 'You moved the Colts.' "

Hott's response?

"Bob Irsay moved the Colts, we just moved the Irsays."

Even former company officials have been publicly rebuked, says Don H. Warner, Mayflower's one-time general manager who helped orchestrate the Colts' departure from Baltimore.

"You'd think people would forget," said Warner, who owns his own moving company in southern Pennsylvania. "Last year, I was at a wedding reception, in a room full of strangers, when this huge guy comes over and says, 'So you're the s.o.b. who moved the Colts.'

"It was embarrassing. The whole thing has been an albatross, I tell you."

Now, Cleveland's loss could be Mayflower's gain. The Browns are heading east, and owner Art Modell needs help packing. What better way for Mayflower to make amends?

"We'd love to help the Browns move. Imagine the positive press for us to move a team back," said Walter. "It would be nice for people there to feel good about Mayflower."

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