My childhood fandom of the Indianapolis Colts came to a conclusion on
January 14th 1996. The Colts, after an extremely unlikely run through
the playoffs lost a heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jim
Harbaugh, Captain Comeback himself, could not pull off one more
miracle. With that loss, I thought I was done. It was the
culmination of years of following a terrible team. I watched and
hoped through Eric Dickerson, Jeff George, Steve Emtman and Marshall
Faulk as they all failed to bring the success their talent hinted at.
I lived through being the punch line of jokes on Saturday Night Live
and never having a primetime game. So in 1996, the same year I moved
away from Indianapolis I gave up on the Colts and the NFL in general.
I don’t think I watched an NFL game besides the Super Bowl through my
entire college career.
My brother stayed faithful, and after much cajoling convinced me to
start watching again around 2001. Good thing he did, as I was able to
enjoy the rise to prominence that Peyton Manning, Bill Polian and Jim
Irsay have brought to Indianapolis. Now the Colts are one of the most
dominant teams in all of professional sports. Tickets are hard to
come by (a major change from buying tickets day of the game when I was
growing up) and a whole generation of fans have grown up knowing only
success (mixed with some play-off heartbreak).
“Blue Blood” by Nate Dunlevy is an attempt to tell this history of the
Indianapolis Colts to these new fans. Dunlevy is a founder and the main author at
the Colts fan website www.18to88.com, and the best Colts blogger
around. His writing typically is concise, well researched, and
logical. “Blue Blood” is no exception. It is organized into sections
breaking the years the Colts have been in Indianapolis into roughly 3
season chunks. He gives an overview of the history for each section,
then covers major players/coaches or events. Finally each section
profiles “Classic Colts,” guys who may not make it to the Hall of
Fame, but should be known to all Colts fans. The book finishes with
a section of unforgettable Colts games.
Dunlevy is clearly a longtime fan. He does a good job putting each
achievement and player in the correct historical context. His
research is as always well done, and his taste is never in question.
He accurately describes some of the most cherished moments of being a
Colts fan. He does a good job of identifying when revisionist spin
doesn’t match the historical reality (about time someone pointed out
the craziness that was going on in municipal governance of Baltimore
when the Colts left). When he injects personal anecdotes in the
history, they provide both insight and a point of reference (the
advice he gave his brother at half time of the 2006 AFC Championship
game was so close to my inner dialog at that time it was spooky).
The passages on the 2 different playoff losses to Pittsburgh
reinforced my long standing hatred, and firm belief that New England
is just a distraction, Pittsburgh is in fact the real enemy.
If I had any complaints about this book it would be that it is too
dry. In his quest for historical accuracy I believe he overlooked
his major strength. A more personal account of his Colts fandom, and
a more passionate history would have made for a better book. When
writing for his blog Dunlevy routinely mixes the passion of a homer
with clear writing to great success; I would have preferred if more
of the passion had shown through in this endeavor as well.
All in all, this book is a must-own for serious Colts fans. In my
household, I teach my nephews that the greatest story ever told was
the 2006 AFC Championship game. When they get older I will hand them
this book to explain why they are required to wear blue face paint