If horseshoe fits ...

Young Colts fans took up allegiance long after moving vans took off

The Scene

Ravens Gameday

December 10, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN REPORTER

There was a lot of talk over the past week about the cross-generational battle lines between Ravens fans and Colts fans, about how those old enough to remember the Mayflower moving vans should know better than to root for a team that used to play in Baltimore.

But there's a segment of Colts fans who don't know any better - those born after 1984.

They are no different from Brooklyn kids who rooted for Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers, not knowing the angst Walter O'Malley caused when he left for the West Coast. They are no different from Baltimore baby boomers who now live in the Washington suburbs and root for the Wizards.

So there were a lot fans wearing Peyton Manning jerseys milling about M&T Bank Stadium before last night's game between the Ravens and Indianapolis Colts. But many weren't sure whether they wanted to be wearing them.

That was the predicament faced by 18-year-old Sean Myers of Fallston.

Born five years after the Colts left town, Myers began following football when the Ravens were in their infancy.

"I didn't feel like they were very good, and I saw the Colts play the Patriots in a playoff game, and I just fell in love with them," said Myers, echoing the sentiments of many young fans who tend to root for winning teams over losing ones.

When Myers was 14, he asked his parents for a Dwight Freeney jersey ("because he was such a beast") for his birthday, but his mother couldn't find Colts jerseys in Harford County. Leslie Myers finally had to go online to buy one.

Of course, it had Manning's name and No. 18 on the back.

Stephon Smith, 29, really has no excuses. He was born before Bob Irsay bolted for Indianapolis. But the contractor from Salisbury never got that message and has been rooting for the Colts since the days of Jim Harbaugh and Marshall Faulk.

His favorite player is Manning.

"I've been a Manning fan ever since he came to Indianapolis from [the University of] Tennessee," Smith said. "Ever since the Colts came from Maryland, that's been my primary team. When Baltimore got a team, that's good, but we [the Colts] were winning by then."

If Myers and Smith were hassled after going into the stadium last night, they could probably handle it, but how about the younger Manning fans who only know of their favorite player from TV commercials, video games and maybe that famous Saturday Night Live appearance?

Dave Magee allowed his 11-year-old son Derek to wear his Manning jersey to the game, but the house designer from Georgetown, Del., joked: "We're supposed to be guarding him in case someone wants to beat him up."

Leave the kid, or kids, alone.

Like the kids from Brooklyn who grew up rooting for the Dodgers because of Koufax, they don't know any better.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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