All the rage? No more

October 12, 2008|By DAVID STEELE | DAVID STEELE,david.steele@baltsun.com

Jan. 13, 2007. That's when Baltimore's rage over the departure of the Colts to Indianapolis flickered out.

If you're wondering why that flame hasn't been relit as today's Ravens game against the Colts in Indianapolis has approached, the events of that evening are why. The silence - about Bob Irsay, Mayflower vans, William Hudnut, betrayal, hatred, vengeance and closure - has been deafening.

Granted, it has also been refreshing. Even at the time, it was hardly a unanimous feeling in town that the tale of that snowy March morning in 1984 had to be retold or that it had to be used to whip the city into yet another fury toward the team with the beloved horseshoe. But that feeling was overwhelming, enough to light up the city by kickoff that night.

No question, though, it was snuffed out by game's end. Colts, 15-6, at M&T Bank Stadium. Things haven't been the same since and might never be; never again will the same circumstances converge the way they did then. Last week, it was a dying ember. No one even seemed to have the energy to bring up the topic.

Yeah, the old stories had a good, long run. But they badly needed closure, some kind of way to end that old era and plant feet firmly and unwaveringly into this era. The 2006 season's playoff game did the job.

To look at it less psychologically and more emotionally - it was time we all stopped being clubbed over the head by the Baltimore Colts. There's nostalgia, there's sadness, there's injustice and there's history - but what had built over the years was brutal, bitter overkill. Brooklyn Dodgers fans were saying: "Wow, I thought we sounded bad."

Now, even when Ravens players talk about that game, they talk about the loss of a golden opportunity far more than about the madness surrounding the Baltimore-Colts-Ravens love-hate triangle.

"To go that far, 13-3, and then have that happen? It hurts, really, really bad," center Jason Brown said. "It hurts even worse that that same team went on to win the Super Bowl, and you have that question in the back of your mind, 'Could that have been us?' "

By the time those Colts returned here last season - and throttled the Ravens on national television - the overheated-rivalry talk was seriously diminished. The Ravens playing today, in their year of transition, are so full of new and intriguing angles, there's hardly room for the old one or time to rehash it.

Many of the factors contributing to the cooling of the passion were in effect two years ago, too. A significant segment of the Ravens' roster was either not born or too young to remember when the Mayflowers roared down the highway. The Ravens, of course, had brought a championship back to town. Irsay was gone, and so was Memorial Stadium. The old Colts players had long since tied themselves to their old city rather than their old team.

Now? The Colts, indeed, have brought the Lombardi Trophy to Indy, bringing closure to their own tale of angst. Peyton Manning holds a bunch of Johnny Unitas' records; Marvin Harrison, not John Mackey, is the No. 88 fans relate to; the coach identified with the franchise is not Ewbank, Shula or Marchibroda, but Dungy.

And a new stadium has replaced the original destination of the moving trucks, the then-Hoosier Dome, which was recently deflated.

How appropriate.

And overdue. It's long past time to stick a pin in the whole issue.

Listen to David Steele on Fridays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM).

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