Ex-Baltimore Colts mixed on Indy win

Former Baltimore Colts divided on Indy's win

January 22, 2007|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,Sun reporter

As Raymond Berry sat in the den of his Murfreesboro, Tenn., home last night watching the AFC championship game, he could have imagined himself on the sidelines of either football team.

Berry spent 13 years catching passes for the Colts, helping Baltimore to world championships in 1958 and 1959. He also coached New England for six years, leading that team to the January 1986 Super Bowl game.

Indianapolis' 38-34 victory to reach the Super Bowl stirred emotions deep inside the 73-year-old Hall of Fame receiver.

"With [quarterback] Peyton Manning and [receiver] Marvin Harrison, you've got a whole lot of similarities between John [Unitas] and myself," Berry said of the Colts' aerial tandem. "It's very clear those two take their football seriously and work their butts off at it.

"You watch Harrison and you're watching a master craftsman at work,"

Immediately after the game, Berry said, "It was a barn burner. They definitely earned it, doing it the hard way coming from behind. I thought the Patriots' defense would be the difference, but it wasn't."

Berry's respect for Indianapolis isn't swayed by the club's move from Baltimore in 1984.

"There's no use belaboring the point," he said of the league's decision to shift the franchise west. "The NFL just blew it. I'm sure people in Brooklyn feel the same about the Dodgers. It shouldn't have happened, but we don't live in a perfect world."

Many Baltimoreans disagreed.

"I wanted the Patriots to cream them, to knock the horseshoes off their helmets," said Jerry Kelly, 73, of Reisterstown. "I'm sitting here looking at the Indianapolis Colts' media guide, which has all of the Baltimore Colts' history melded in there. It's blasphemy; it's just wrong."

For Ed Dopkowski of White Marsh, cheering on New England was the lesser of two evils.

"I'm sick of seeing the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but I can live with it if it's them or the Colts," said Dopkowski, 50. "As long as the Irsays own the team, I can't root for them."

No matter, he said, that Bob Irsay, the man who moved the Colts, is dead:

"Call it the sins of the father."

Dave Kryglik isn't sweet on New England either, but there he was, dressed in a red shirt and white pants (Patriots' colors) to watch the game in his Dundalk home.

"That's how much I hate the Colts," said Kryglik, 59. His beef was really with team owner Jim Irsay and his late father.

"I have no grudge against the players, but I cannot stand the Irsays," said Kryglik. "To have our [Baltimore] Colts memorabilia in the Pro Football Hall of Fame under the Indianapolis name is disgusting."

Lou Michaels agreed.

"I did not root for the Colts," said Michaels, 71, Baltimore's kicker and defensive end from 1964-1969. "They're a bunch of sneaks who'd sell their own mothers to win the Super Bowl. I don't like the way they left town; they didn't do things the way normal human beings do them."

Still, a number of those players who once suited up for Baltimore said they have come to terms with the past.

"No reflection on Baltimore, but I was pulling for the Colts," said Bert Jones, who quarterbacked the club from 1973-1981.

Jones, 55, said his friendship with Peyton Manning, who grew up in Louisiana with Jones' own children, supercedes any ill will he might feel toward Indianapolis.

Even Gino Marchetti, the Hall of Fame defensive end, has made nice with Indianapolis. Sort of.

"I'm happy the Colts won," said Marchetti, 80. "I never thought I'd say that. ... They took our history, and that's serious stuff.

"But I think I'd be glad if they won it all this year. They're not a `hoopla' team. When Harrison scores a touchdown, he hands the ball to the referee and runs off the field. And when I see pictures of Peyton Manning, hands in his pockets and head down, I swear to God I'm looking at John [Unitas]."

And besides, there are other things more important, said Joe Short, 66, a longtime Baltimore football fan from Columbia.

"My thinking is this: We've got a whole lot of war problems [in Iraq] to worry about more than whether the Colts or Patriots should become champions. Let's keep a true perspective.

"There are 21-year-old kids getting maimed over there. They are our heroes."

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

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