The Indianapolis Colts were born as a team twice: In 1947, the Baltimore Colts replaced the Miami Seahawks in the AAFC. In 1951, one year after the merger with the NFL, however, they lost their license, only to revive in 1953, after the collapse of the Dallas Texans.
The return of the Baltimore Colts was impressive: NFL Commissioner Bert Bell required the city of Baltimore to ensure that 15,000 season tickets could be sold within six weeks if they wanted their franchise back. But the demand for professional football was so big at Cheaspeak Bay that the goal was reached after only four weeks, and in the beginning of January, Carroll Rosenbloom was granted a franchise for Baltimore.
After a season under coach Keith Molesworth, Rosenbloom contracted Weeb Ewbank, a successful college coach. Ewbank began to slowly but steadily build a team, which in the late 1950s reached its peak: In 1957, the Colts completed a season with more victories than defeats for the first time – something that should the team should succeed to do each season in the following 14 years. And 1958 and 1959 the Baltimore Colts managed to win the first two NFL titles.
The Colts were led by quarterback Johnny Unitas at that time, who – for many – is the best quarterback of all time. But also future members of the Hall of Fame, like wide receiver Raymond Berry, defensive tackle Art Donovan, defensive end Gino Marchetti or running back / wide receiver Lenny Moore belonged to that team, which in 1958 won the NFL Championship Game in a dramatic game and defeated the New York Giants with 23:17 in overtime. The game was later dubbed by commentators as “The Best Game Ever” and contributed much to the rapidly growing popularity of professional American football, to say the least, it was the best Indianapolis Colts game to watch ever.
In 1963, Ewbank resigned as Colts coach, only to play against his old team in Super Bowl III a few years later. The NFL Champion was a big favorite against the New York Jets that were coached by Ewbank, but the Colts surprisingly lost the game with 16:7. After the change to the American Football Conference, the Colts reached the Super Bowl again in 1970 where they were able to defeat the Dallas Cowboys with a 16:13 victory. After that, the Colts disappeared in the depths of the league and only rarely reached the playoffs. In 1995 they at least reached the AFC Championship Game.
The Colts especially made headlines off the field: In 1972, Colts owner Rosenbloom and Rams owner Robert Irsay exchanged their franchises. And in 1984, Irsay left Baltimore with his team practically overnight and found a new home in Indianapolis. In 1998, the Colts contracted Peyton Manning, one of the best quarterbacks of the new millennium. In 2006, the team finally reached the Super Bowl after several unsuccessful attempts and won the game against the Chicago Bears. And the Indianapolis Colts made history: Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy became the first black coach, who could hold the Vince Lombardi Trophy in his hands.