December 28, 2008

WHEN THE COLTS WERE THE JETS:

When Football Grew Up (William Gildea, December 28, 2008, Washington Post)

Fifty years ago today, my father took me to the National Football League's championship game at Yankee Stadium. The previous evening, we rode the train from Baltimore to root for our Colts against the glamorous New York Giants. As a teenager, I found New York unsettling -- too big, too fast. I hoped the Colts could adjust. My father and I spent the night at his Aunt Bea's apartment on upper Broadway. The next morning, we took the subway to the Bronx. Pop knew the way.

It was a gray day. We wore suits, ties and overcoats. Our seats were in the end zone, in the middle deck behind what would have been home plate and first base in baseball season. Pop and I loved the Colts. One Sunday in November 1950, we slipped away from the bedside of his dying father. Pop said it was okay, that something important was going to happen that afternoon and we had to be there. The Colts, he said, were going to win -- and they did. They had lost 14 straight.

But in 1958, they were the betting favorites to win the title game, and they had the best player, a daring young quarterback named Johnny Unitas. We took no comfort in the Colts' advantages. We thought of ourselves, and the team, as intruders from the provinces with dreams likely to be dashed.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 28, 2008 9:09 AM
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