30th anniversary of Colts departure (3-28-84)
Need to 'set the record straight' about what led to that notorious move. There are too many misconceptions both inside and outside of Maryland. The ones in Indianapolis are not important enough to consider since their confusion about the legacy of the Baltimore Colts has always been well deserved.
First and foremost, the drop in attendance in Baltimore was never the result of disinterest. It was instead a PROTEST of the incredible mismanagement of the organization under Robert Irsay. Its purpose was to persuade Irsay to sell the franchise and, thereby, AVOID the embarrassment of moving a national icon out of its domain. Of course, the rest of the country saw it instead as Baltimore's embarrassment.
On the other hand, the move was inevitable. From the very beginning, Irsay was in hot pursuit of the sweetheart deal to move elsewhere. His lawyer-partner (Chernoff) perceived the constant threat of a move as effective leverage to negotiate a new, costly and unnecessary venue to replace Memorial Stadium (less than 20 years old). When the City Council refused to 'knuckle under', they eventually made the kind of 'mistake' that Chernoff was hoping for: legal action to attempt an eminent domain takeover (i.e., a desperate attempt to separate Irsay from his property and thereby prevent its relocation). In retrospect, what the action really accomplished was the accelerated expulsion of Irsay's abuse of my hometown. Once he 'sunk his claws' into the organization it was doomed. Well within the 11 years, he transformed the best NFL franchise into, by far, the worst.
But the real 'tragedy' of the post-move era was the naive efforts of Baltimore politicians in using the courts to force the franchise to return. Ownership is ownership. And because those efforts took the place of a far more important consideration, old Baltimore Colt fans quietly suffer EVERY DAY the indignity of having THEIR Colts name and image represent another city. Moreover, and far more important, Baltimore's heritage and its place in twentieth-century American history suffer simply because the Colts uniform hasn't been retired and returned to its origin ... now thirty years and counting.