Interested in rooting for one of the NFL's 32 teams -- but don't know where to start? Adam Rank has you covered with this series, which will present a handy guide to becoming an instantly rabid fan of each organization in the league. Below, find out why you should root for the Indianapolis Colts.
What you need to know so you don't sound stupid
There are few teams with a deeper lineage in NFL history. Is lineage the right word? What I'm saying is, the Colts have been involved in a lot of memorable and important NFL moments throughout the years.
The Colts defeated the Giants in 1958 in what was dubbed the "Greatest Game Ever Played," the overtime thriller (watched by 45 million viewers) that paved the way for the modern NFL. You've likely seen the image of Don Ameche busting through the line at the old Yankee Stadium. Oh, my bad, it's Alan Ameche. Ah. I always thought Mortimer Duke from "Trading Places" scored that touchdown. (And what do you mean you've never seen "Trading Places"? I don't care if it came out before you were born. "Star Wars" came out before I was born and you damn well know I've seen that movie.)
The Colts also drafted John Elway in 1983. Of course, Elway forced their hand, and he got traded to Denver, which might or might not have led to the Colts leaving for Indianapolis in the dead of night the following year. (And then the open spot in Baltimore provided a landing place for Art Modell to move his team. Thanks again, Elway.)
But if they had kept Elway, who knows what could have happened? Would they have been in line to draft Peyton Manning, who had one of the most prolific careers in NFL history? You read that correctly. This is me, Adam Rank, giving praise to Peyton Manning. All right, let's get to that.
The franchise's best
Colts fans, I know we've never gotten along -- mostly because there is nobody in sports media who has been more critical of Peyton Manning than me. And I know that, when some of you saw I was writing this series, you were like, "Great. He's going to spend the whole time ripping Manning." That offends me greatly. Did you not see I was at least fair to the Green Bay Packers?
So I'm going to be fair when it comes to Manning. Let's be honest: He's one of the best in NFL history. Just look at some of the impressive records he holds (I'm only listing a few because I'm on a word count here):
Most wins: 200
Most game-winning drives: 56
Most comeback wins: 45
Most MVP awards: 5
The list of accomplishments and records seems to go on forever. Add all of those numbers up, and you have one Super Bowl win in Indy. If that seems like a slam, well ... that's mostly because it is.
In fairness to me ...
Owner Jim Irsay -- someone I'm a huge fan of -- said recently that he'd be damned if the Colts don't win multiple Super Bowls with Andrew Luck. And look, this is the attitude you should have. When one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, which Manning clearly was, is on your roster, it's not unreasonable to expect multiple titles. Anything less seems like a missed opportunity. It's like the "Star Wars" prequels. It seems almost impossible to take something so beloved and fail to deliver. And yet, that's exactly what George Lucas did. But on the bright side, "Star Wars: Episode VII" and "Rogue One" easily crack my top four in best films of the franchise. And "Star Wars Rebels" and "The Clone Wars" are great TV shows. So if Luck can be your Kanan Jarrus, then you are in good shape.
As Luck would have it ...
I mentioned this in my writeup for the Packers, but it's apt with the Colts, as well. You went from Peyton Manning -- maybe the best regular-season quarterback in NFL history -- and followed it up with Andrew Luck, the guy who has played with numerous injuries and still nearly took his team all the way to the Super Bowl. Some teams just seem to have all the luck. (And yes, I hate myself for even writing that.)
Don't forget about Johnny U.
As if those two quarterbacks aren't enough, the Colts also claim Johnny Unitas. He's another whom many (people from my father's era) consider the best of all time. His best season came in 1959 (the year after the "Greatest Game Ever Played"), when he threw for 2,899 yards and 32 touchdowns. I know, those are marks you expect Ryan Tannehill to hit this year. But Unitas' 32 touchdowns were 12 greater than runner-up (and fellow Hall of Famer) Bobby Layne.
Gore, Gore, Gore
Frank Gore has been wrecking dudes at the NFL level since I was in middle school (give or take). He's still doing it to this day. The whole, "Frank Gore is going to outlive us all" joke was hacky six years ago, and yet here he is, ready to lead the Colts' ground attack once again. I'm just going to sit here and enjoy it, to be honest, because he's a lot of fun to watch. But then again, we're always going to be drawn to things we loved as a child, dated as they may be today. Like "Full House" or something.
The next Ed Reed
The Colts caught a huge break when they landed Malik Hooker with the 15th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. This was somebody who was rumored to be a top-five pick (and not slipping past the Chargers at No. 7), but the Colts got him. He's got speed and athleticism and is a guy who could be a long-term prospect in the mold of Ed Reed, a player coach Chuck Pagano directed when he was an assistant in Baltimore. I'm telling you: We will look back on the 2017 NFL Draft and wonder how Hooker went so low.
Not enough credit
If there is one person who I could say is responsible for ruining my early adulthood, it would be Dominic Rhodes. Seriously, he and I could never be friends. He rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI to defeat the Bears. It was truly an awful day, and I hold him personally responsible. I mean, I've become friends with Reggie Wayne, who had a big touchdown in this game (thanks to the rain, obviously), but I still hold Rhodes personally responsible for this. Well, him and Rex Grossman.
Money in the bank
The current WWE Money in the Bank briefcase holder is Baron Corbin, a former member of the Indianapolis Colts. Though, you might know him better as Thomas Pestock. (Or you probably don't.) Former Colts punter Pat McAfee has often talked about being a professional wrestler, as well. Actually, it looks like he's starting to get serious.
If you really want to fit in with the Colts fans, find the Bob Sanders No. 21 jersey and wear it with pride. The only thing that kept Sanders from being considered one of the best -- if not the G.O.A.T. -- was injuries. But in his prime, there was nobody better. He had a huge part in Indianapolis' lone Super Bowl win. He was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Remember him for how great he was.
Hipster jersey II
It would take Wilsons of steel to rock a Jeff George No. 11 jersey. But damn it, I would certainly respect it. The same would not be said if you wore Eric Dickerson's No. 29. It's still too soon.
Closing fun fact
The Colts certainly check a lot of boxes when it comes to fandom. The franchise has been a winner, and you have a great owner who is not satisfied with one Super Bowl to his name. He wants multiple. The stadium is amazing. It might be my favorite. And the city? Forget about it. I was skeptical of an Indianapolis Super Bowl, and I even made fun of the host committee when I was out at Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. But Indy was so great for Super Bowl XLVI. Outside of New Orleans (and eventually Las Vegas), this is easily my favorite Super Bowl host city. Even when it was freezing cold. So it's a lot of fun to go to games. I like the fans, even though they don't like me. But Drew Powell, who plays Solomon Freaking Grundy on "Gotham," is a fan, and we get along fine. They have great stars, with Luck, Gore and T.Y. Hilton. Damn, I didn't even mention T.Y. until now -- there are stars galore on this team. Seriously, you could do worse than the Colts.