Thursday, January 28, 2010

Restoring Baltimore's football heritage

Back in March of 2007 with the help of my web developer friends at D3 Corp, we launched a website intended to raise awareness of how the BALTIMORE Colts are erroneously presented in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (“HOF”) and to gather support to convince the executives who run the HOF to present Baltimore’s football history properly.

TV and radio stations jumped all over the effort and after one day we had 10,000 signatures on the electronic petition that is featured on the aforementioned website called

When the numbers climbed over 20,000 signatures I called the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

And I called, and called and called.

I once received a voice mail from VP of Communications/Exhibits Joe Horrigan and immediately returned his call but that simply took me to the next level of unreturned voice mail messages.

Eventually I let it go, succumbing to the daily pressures of life.

Recently my friend Dave Tieff contacted me about reaching out to the HOF. Dave was unaware of my unsuccessful attempts to do what he now wants to do – restore Baltimore’s football heritage. His passion I assume was stoked a bit by the recent Divisional Playoff game between the Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts.

Funny how that happens…

Dave, an accomplished musician by profession (see Laughing Colors) and a passionate fan by blood “friended” the HOF on Facebook just the other day and suggested in a pleasant way that the Indianapolis Colts’ history should be separated from that of Baltimore.

The response?

“History is history.”

I couldn’t agree more. So why not present it accurately there Mr. HOF?

Dave went on to remind Mr. HOF that there is no link from the Ravens to the Cleveland Browns.

Are you ready for this reply?

"The Ravens, although they received players from the Browns, were an expansion team. The Cleveland franchise suspended operations for three years. So, the Browns did not become the Ravens. This is very similar to how many transactions happened in the earlier days of the NFL as noted in the list we linked to above."

Is that right?

Just because Art Modell chooses out of the goodness of his heart to do the right thing and leave behind the Browns’ colors and history the Ravens are considered to be an expansion franchise?


Did the league expand in 1996?


Expansion suggests that there was a league endorsed plan to move to Baltimore. They chose instead Charlotte and Jacksonville.

How’s that working out for you?

Do you think for one second the league approved of the exodus from Cleveland? Do you think they wanted to pony up all those millions to finance a new stadium in Cleveland? Just a few years prior we were told to take our “expansion” money and build a museum instead of a new stadium.

Did the Ravens receive extra draft picks and did they benefit from an expansion draft?


The HOF's unwillingness to address this issue is absolutely lame and lazy.

Don’t you think the Indianapolis Colts fans are sick of hearing about the Baltimore Colts? They are on the verge of their second Super Bowl victory. Don’t they deserve their own presentation and records without the asterisks and questions surrounding Baltimore?

How much of an effort would it really take to present Baltimore in the Hall of Fame with both the Baltimore Colts and Baltimore Ravens?

The folks at the HOF might say that if they make an exception for Baltimore they will have to make exceptions for others.


How many other cities presented in the HOF have a story as compelling or even remotely comparable to Baltimore’s?

Do you think if Baltimore had retained the Browns’ name and history that Canton would then present the Browns’ history as the Baltimore Browns?

Fat chance!

Canton is 60 miles south of Cleveland. We’ve seen Cleveland chuck beer bottles at game officials for a bad call. Just imagine what they might do to Canton, Ohio if you took away Otto Graham and Jim Brown; stripped them of their city’s football heritage.

The song lyrics, “Burn baby burn” come to mind.

Joe Horrigan is widely regarded as one of the sport's foremost historians. The Pro Football HOF website even boasts as much.

By nature historians are sticklers for detail and accuracy.

Funny how they can kick accuracy to the curb when there’s money to be made. After all the HOF is marketing Colts Heritage magnets and plaques marrying together Baltimore Colts heritage with that of the Indianapolis Colts.

I digress…

It’s time the Pro Football HOF collectively gets off their hind parts and they do the right thing. If they need funding to get it done, let us know. Maybe we can find a way to help.

It’s time to set the record straight Mr. Horrigan!

PLEASE help me make Horrigan an offer he can’t refuse and sign the petition today.

Together I think we can bring the BALTIMORE Colts back to their proper resting place.

Let’s go you Baltimore Colts fans!



Jess said...

Their response is infuriating.

I just left a response of my own on the Facebook page. I'm sure it'll get deleted.

"History is indeed history. Johnny U, Raymond Berry, Art Donovan, John Mackey, Gino Marchetti, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker (as well as the other HoFers) all played for the BALTIMORE Colts, if you want to be historically accurate..(not that I'd expect that to happen, I mean this is the Hall of Fame, the people who's slogan reads "To honor, preserve, educate, and promote"

But lets just forget that ever happened, and lump them with Peyton Manning.

Btw, Did the Ravens opt out of an expansion draft that year? And why did the Browns get one?"

Tony Lombardi said...

I failed to mention that the City Council actually passed a resolution in support of our petition.

Brian Mc said...

FWIW - the Ravens are technically classified by the NFL as an Expansion franchise. It's convoluted thinking, but basically Modell left the Cleveland Browns franchise in Cleveland - which went on hiatus for 3 years - and was award a new expansion franchise. All of the contracts of the former Browns were transferred to the Ravens.

Now, in the real world, the Browns moved to Baltimore and agreed to leave everything behind and Cleveland got an expansion draft, but Horrigan is correct that the NFL sees the Ravens as the expansion franchise.

All that said, I'm not sure that that really provides Horrigan the necessary cover he's looking for,
but - at least on that part - he is correct.

As far as his "history is history" comment, he is also correct there, but not the way he intended it - the history of the Colts til 1983 happened in Baltimore. You can't change history and say that it happened somewhere else.

Jerry B said...

TL, this strikes such a nostalgic and bitter chord with me that time and space don't permit me to fully address all the inequities in this debate! Let's just say that the NFL doesn't "get it" and probably never will! How simple it would be to rule that any team that relocates MUST leave it's legacy behind IF the bereft municipality requests it! Cleveland wasn't hurt by Modell's move, although there are still some who think he's a modern day, "Judas"! By leaving Cleveland's football heritage in tact, the man showed so much class that the league apparently doesn't know what to make of it! Anyway, I could go on and on about this very "touchy" subject, but as I said, I doubt that the NFL will ever address the ignominity of Irsays move and the historical repercussions that have ensued!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Nice idea, but will this really work?

Corey said...

Did you really just write "Just because Art Modell chooses out of the goodness of his heart to do the right thing and leave behind the Browns’ colors and history"

Are you lying, or ignorant? It was hardly out of the goodness of his heart that Modell left the name, colors, and history. I*t iwas because he had three years left on his lease and a legal battle was brewing that would have been bad for Modell, Cleveland, and the NFL, so part of the settlement was that he leave the name, colors, and history behind.

Please don't rewrite history.

Anonymous said...

I dont know what irks me more, the fact that the NFL has ignored this issue for so long or the fact that the Colts organization continues to parade around like they have done nothing wrong. I really think this is something the Colts organization should WANT to do. Seperate the history and get rid of the organizations scarlet letter. They'd still technically own the rights to the Baltimore Colts, I guess. There is a ton of money to be made there and they get to be the hero's. Who is it going to hurt?

Jess said...

The Hall of Fame still hasn't replied to my comment. Was it something I said? :(

(They didn't' delete my comment though)