Colts' Baltimore hits win spot in Ravens' book Records to be included in team's media guide

June 28, 1996|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

It's a problem more than one football team has faced in Baltimore: How do you create your own identity while paying homage to the heritage of the Baltimore Colts?

For the Ravens, the city's new NFL franchise, the answer is to maintain two record books.

The team will come out next month with its official media guide, the statistical record book used by reporters and fans. It will include two sets of records: one for the Ravens and another for "Baltimore Pro Football History."

The sleight of hand will create a new home for the passing records of John Unitas and defensive stats of Art Donovan without expropriating the history of the Indianapolis, nee Baltimore, Colts.

"It's not something that will be recognized by the NFL," said Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne.

But local fans can compare quarterback Vinny Testaverde's records with his All-America Football Conference counterpart in the 1940s. The Colts played in that league before it merged with the NFL.

Excluded from the records will be Canadian Football League and United States Football League teams that carried the Baltimore name, however.

"We had to cut it off somewhere," Byrne said.

Both the USFL Stars and CFL Stallions tried to associate themselves with the residual goodwill of the Colts, who played in Baltimore from 1947 to 1950 and 1953 to 1983. The Stallions went the furthest: The team called itself the CFL Colts before the NFL forced them in court to stop. The team also included former Colts in its promotional events.

Some former Colts players, such as Unitas, said it was improper for the Colts to take their Baltimore history to Indianapolis and to include it in the team's current publications. "The Colts are saying that's their history, and it's not. It does not belong in Indianapolis," Unitas said.

Although he has not seen the material being prepared by the Ravens, he said he supports the idea of a Baltimore football history in the new team's publications.

"I don't have a problem with that," Unitas said.

Although the matter was raised informally with league officials, the Ravens did not specifically request permission and have not spoken with the Colts, Byrne said. The Colts media guide and records include seasons when the team played in Baltimore.

Cities and teams frequently joust for the rights to such heritage. Several trophies and other items of historical value from the Colts' Baltimore seasons were returned as part of a settlement of lawsuits with Baltimore after the team moved in 1984.

Similarly, Ravens owner Art Modell agreed to give up all claims to the history, name and colors of his franchise as part of a settlement with Cleveland after moving the Browns franchise here.

Jim Considine, a local salesman and avid football fan, did much of the research for the Baltimore history section, combing through newspaper accounts of the city's early teams.

"The passion in Baltimore was very strong. It should be interesting to see how the team is received because it has been a couple of years. But it will come back," Considine said.

Pub Date: 6/28/96

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