Shortly after the Baltimore Colts packed the Mayflowers and tippy-toed across not one, but three state lines in the middle of the night, I remember thinking how cool it would be if the team altered the uniforms and helmets. Nothing overwhelmingly drastic. A black horseshoe on the helmet instead of blue; black home jerseys with the same striping and numbers.

In other words, maintaining the same general look as a sort of thumbs-up to the past, but leaving the familiar shade of blue where it rightfully belonged: Maryland, The Unitas State of America.

A quarter-century, 12 playoff appearances and one Super Bowl championship later, those feelings haven't changed. Only at this point there is no turning back. Blue is in. Blue is everywhere. Blue is Indianapolis. An entire city/state/fan base isn't about to trade blue jerseys, hats, t-shirts, pajama pants, etc., for a different color.

Too bad. This has become the era of uniform unpredictability in the NFL. A time in which it seems players literally are in the dark in terms of what they're pulling over their shoulder and thigh pads pre-kickoff.

If the Seattle Seahawks aren't making us seasick with lime-green home jerseys (what, lavender wasn't available?), the Houston Texans can be seen from El Paso thanks to the hideous all-red look they hit the field wearing during a Week 3 loss at home to Jacksonville. The Chicago Bears likely will model orange jerseys while hosting Cleveland on Nov. 1; Denver broke out its version over the weekend against Dallas.

Once or twice the New York Giants are going to swap blue jerseys for red. Bank on it. Already, Pittsburgh, the New York Jets, Oakland and assorted others have traveled the retro route, and many more will over the course of the regular season. In the event you didn't receive the memo, yesterday is in.

But not here. Whether we're talking starting quarterback, uniforms or the sideline facial expression of head coach Jim Caldwell (or his predecessor, Tony Dungy, for that matter), change most definitely is not the Indianapolis Colts. Nonetheless, Jim Irsay and Bill Polian should give it some thought. Mixing up the home unis twice a year with black jerseys and/or black or gray pants would be a great idea in that they could later be auctioned off with proceeds going to some charitable cause.

It's time for the Colts to show some imagination beyond the pages of their offensive playbook. Don't hold your breath. Doing so only turns you blue.

THE FIGHTLESS ILLINI - Illinois football coach Ron Zook is 55, but might feel 85 and very unemployed by season's end if things keep going the way they are.

Only two seasons removed from losing to USC in the Rose Bowl, the Illini, led by once-heralded quarterback Juice Williams, have a grand total of 26 points in losses to Missouri, Ohio State and Penn State. This Saturday against Michigan State, Williams is being benched in favor of junior Eddie McGee, a player that, frankly, I had never heard of.

Bad news for Zook is that another listless performance and the buzzards will be circling. Good news is that the two games following MSU are on the road in less-than-imposing environments - Indiana and Purdue.

From smelling roses to seeing stars. Who said college football wasn't unpredictable?


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