NEW YORK -- Is Boomer Esiason, ex-quarterback and veteran NFL commentator, a fan of any football team?
That's what his radio partner, Craig Carton, wants to know as they debate the psychology of New York Jets supporters.
Sure, Esiason says. He loves one team truly and purely: his alma mater, the University of Maryland.
More than 20 years after he last started a game for a team based in Maryland, Esiason maintains strong ties to the state.
Though he grew up in New York, he was a Baltimore Colts fan weaned on the feats of Bert Jones. His wife is from Westminster. He makes it back to College Park for at least one football game and several basketball games every season.
Get Esiason talking about the old Colts, and he sounds as bruised as any Baltimore fan seated at a pub stool in Dundalk or Highlandtown.
"I'm not a fan [of any NFL team] because my team that I was a fan of doesn't exist anymore," he says.
As a kid, he owned a John Unitas jersey and wore No. 7 because that was Jones' number. Come 1983, he was a promising gunslinger at Maryland with his heart set on playing in Memorial Stadium.
"When the Colts drafted John Elway, my heart was broken," he recalls. Esiason was equally elated when Elway refused to sign with the Colts.
"I was all jacked up because he was [disrespecting] the city, and here I am 28 miles to the south and I love Baltimore," he says.
"I'm like, `I'm going to be their quarterback.' I really thought I was going to be their quarterback."
But his heart was broken all over again when Mayflower moving vans carried the team away to Indianapolis before the 1984 draft. He swore to himself that if the Colts picked him, he wouldn't go to the traitor city. But the Cincinnati Bengals rendered it a non-issue when they snagged him in the second round.
Esiason says that former Colts general manager Ernie Accorsi has told him he would've become the Colts quarterback if the franchise had remained in Baltimore.
"I would've embraced it," Esiason says. "Especially after what John Elway did. I wanted it in the worst way."