If they do, our hearts will go on Once again, the Indianapolis Colts put together a too little, too late rally and lost by a touchdown on Sunday. The Colts are one of those teams which is guaranteed to break your heart. Any amount of faith placed in them will be dashed. It"s a rule. Like the Chicago Cubs, who lose proportionately to the level of adoration from their fans, the Colts will only win when fans stop caring. I"m thoroughly ambivalent about the Colts, although I love football and I"ve enjoyed going to games at the Dome over the years. But I look at their increasing demands from the city with skepticism. They want a new stadium. They want a subsidy from the city. They want each citizen to donate one day"s wage per month to keep Peyton Manning happy. They want each firstborn male child to be named after Jim Irsay. Then I pick up the Indianapolis Star the other day and read a lengthy puff piece about Irsay, the neobeatnik owner of the team. The article made him out to be a great guy, which I"m sure he is. Irsay hangs out with people like Hunter Thompson and John Mellencamp. He writes poetry and songs. He paid over two million bucks for a Jack Kerouac manuscript. I"d personally like to party with Irsay. I"m sure he"s a very cool person and I"d love to hear him spin stories over a glass of Crown. I"d like to see the guitar Elvis Presley once played and which Irsay now owns. But Irsay should probably keep quiet about all the cool material things he has. It"s generally not a smart idea to flaunt your wealth when you"re seeking a handout from the taxpayers. Just like it"s not a good move to drive your Cadillac to the welfare office. As I said, I love the Colts, but I think I"d rather see tax money go toward putting more teachers in the schools, or repairing the roads or buying new voting machines. Irsay has been good to the city of Indianapolis, donating substantial amounts of money to charity. He"s been seen handing out $100 bills to fans before games. Coincidentally, that"s the exact price of two beers and two hotdogs at the Dome. But if it comes down to a business decision, Irsay may well decide he can get a better deal from another city. At that point, he"ll load up the Mayflower vans in the middle of night, just like his father did in Baltimore. I"m not so sure that would be a tragedy for the city. If the Colts left, there would be a small financial impact, and we"d get Bengals and Bears games on TV, but our lives would go on as before. Some downtown businesses would probably go under, and some people would lose their jobs, but the Bank One tower would not topple if we didn"t have an NFL team in Indianapolis. There"d be less of an excuse to drink beer on Sundays. That"s probably the biggest change to take place in the lives of average people if the Colts departed. Sports teams have the leverage over city governments. If they don"t get what they want, they"ll leave. Irsay will pack up his Elvis Presley guitar and take it to Los Angeles or wherever if it means a few more dollars. Speaking just for myself, I"ve always felt like the city has had a tenuous claim on the Colts for the last 18 years. They ran to us in their hour of need, which means they could run away again if necessary. It"s like getting involved in an adulterous affair. If the other party will cheat on their spouse to be with you, what"s stopping them from cheating on you? Unlike the Pacers, who have been here for 35 years, the Colts have only a lease, not ownership, of our hearts. They"ve never truly been ours anyway, so if the Colts left us for the arms of another, more accommodating city, we"d have no choice but to sigh and move on. I"ve halfway expected to turn on the news on any given day and hear about the Colts moving away. It"s one of those stories that wouldn"t surprise anyone, just like the death of Bob Hope. You know it"s going to happen, and it"ll probably happen sooner rather than later, but you don"t know when. I hope the Colts don"t go. I personally love the way they get behind by 20 points and launch a futile comeback. It"s like watching Lucy pull the football away from Charlie Brown. I never got tired of seeing that, and I"ll never get tired of seeing the Colts lose by 8 points after being down 23. I"d miss their twice-a-decade playoff appearances. I"d miss the $10 parking downtown. I"d miss hearing about the court appearances of the team"s players. I"d miss the eight hours of radio coverage on game days. But I"d survive. Oh, and Jim, you could have saved some money if you"d talked to me. I bought a copy of On The Road this summer at a yard sale. It was only a buck.

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