Baltimore Colts linebacker Barry Krauss picks up a fumble and…
Don't misunderstand. Barry Krauss loved Baltimore — from the crabcakes to the Inner Harbor to the rich provenance of the NFL team that picked him sixth overall in the 1979 draft. But five years later, the Colts' move to Indianapolis proved a godsend for the players, said Krauss, a tough linebacker who played 10 seasons with a horseshoe on his helmet.
"It wasn't fair to Baltimore fans, to lose the franchise, with all that great history," he said. "But the relationship between the team and the community was so broken, so sad. It was tough, playing before 35,000" at Memorial Stadium.
The shift to Indianapolis in 1984 "gave the players a second chance," Krauss said. "Everyone needed a change. Going to Indy was almost like going to the playoffs. You got a second wind. It was great to start over, even if we didn't have immediate success."
Going west led to Krauss' best years with the Colts and earned him honors as the club's Most Valuable Player on defense. He later retired to Indianapolis, where, for the past six seasons, he has hosted a post-game show for the Colts.
"People tell me I have a face made for radio," he said.
He'll analyze Sunday's playoff against the Ravens — a contest between two cities where Krauss plied his trade.
The Ravens are "a good, solid veteran team," he said. "But the Colts are an incredible story, coming from behind nine times in the second half. [Quarterback Andrew] Luck seems to have come from the same silver mold as Peyton Manning: Put the ball in his hands at game's end, and he finds a way to win."
But that may be asking too much of a rookie facing the Ravens at home, Krauss said:
"The Colts have to start quick, set the tone and take the crowd out of the game, or it'll be a tough day."
That Ray Lewis on Wednesday announced his retirement at season's end should give Baltimore a lift, said Krauss, middle linebacker on Alabama's 1979 national championship team.
Lewis "has seen better days but, man, what he brings to the table. Having him back will be a huge inspiration and will make a difference, if he makes a big hit in the fourth quarter to ignite the fans," he said.
Quitting football might be tough for the Ravens' star, said Krauss who, at 55, still misses the game.
"I gave it my all and relished every minute," he said. "You get dinged a lot but, in my day, you fought through the concussions and stayed on the field.
"There are a lot of things that I don't remember, but what I do is positive."
The repetitive slams in football took their toll. At times, Krauss' thumbs and fingers go numb because of pinched nerves in his neck. Five surgeries on his creaky right knee have left it arthritic. Memory loss from the "dings" to his head is another concern.
"I've had issues recalling where stuff is, so I carry my keys and wallet in a satchel, " he said. "My friends make fun and call it a man purse."
Still, Krauss works out daily and, at 232 pounds, is 20 below his playing weight.
"I feel thankful, compared to other players," he said.
A divorced father of four, he plans to remarry this spring. Currently, Krauss serves as director of business development for a metrology company that calibrates equipment for manufacturing firms.
Football is always close by. Krauss has coached a minor league team in Indiana, worked as a sideline reporter for Alabama football games and penned a book about his college career, where he played for legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.
A teammate there was Ozzie Newsome, now the Ravens' general manager and a Hall of Fame receiver.
"We ran the wishbone in college and didn't throw the ball much," Krauss said. "Jeff Rutledge, our quarterback, wasn't the most accurate passer. Years later, I asked Ozzie, 'Can you imagine how good you'd have been if we'd had a quarterback who could lay it right in there?'
"Ozzie said, 'Heck, I'm glad I had Jeff because those [spectacular] catches made me who I was.'"