6 Reasons Why Indianapolis Colts Fans Are The Nicest
Indianapolis Colts Fans Are The Nicest
Hey, NFL free agents! You want to play for a contender in a fun and friendly atmosphere? Come to Indianapolis!
Back in December of 2010, the Indianapolis Star reported a Harris Poll that said the Indianapolis Colts were "America's Team II," the second most popular team among adults after the Dallas Cowboys (and edging out the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and rapidly surging New Orleans Saints). But a lot can change in four years. That was before the 2-14 season, before Peyton Manning went west, before Suck For Luck and Chuck Strong.
A little adversity galvanizes the soul, but I'm not really sure how far one 2-14 season in the midst of a success sandwich goes toward pruning a fanbase so accustomed to winning (not to mention, that single 2-14 season ended with Indy hosting Super Bowl XLVI, still the city's pride and joy). It might have been enough to knock a few fair-weathers off the bandwagon, and some loyalties migrated directly to the Rockies along with Peyton. So, who's left? At the core, what defines today's typical Colts fan?
If the Colts really are the second most popular team in the league (which I highly doubt is still true), then that would suggest the fanbase extends far beyond the city limits of Indianapolis (13th largest city in the United States). Part of identifying yourself with a Midwestern team in a smaller market is adopting the fan culture, and I would argue (or maybe even brag) that Colts fans, regardless of where they were born and raised, are some of the nicest fans in all of fandom. I would argue they can't help it. I'll even provide evidence.
6. Smart and Gracious Fans
There are lots of smart fans out there. Baltimore Ravens fans responded to Ray Lewis (and I'm sure they relish every opportunity to be mentioned in an article about Indianapolis); New Orleans Saints fans respond to Drew Brees, even frenzy on command. But the connection Peyton shaped and molded with the fans in Indianapolis (and then somehow seamlessly passed on to Andrew Luck) is special, even sonnet worthy.
It's not just knowing when to be loud and when to be quiet (though, I do hope Manning took it as the greatest compliment when the fans roared at his new offense during his welcome home party last Fall). Being a smart and gracious fan is about appreciating shared experiences and encouraging new fans to join the party. Colts fandom is not an exclusive club, and I hope it never will be.
5. They Want To Love You, Whether You Like It or Not
An athlete's attitude toward the community is just as important (if not more important) than his win/loss record. Colts fans don't demand championships so much as they demand good citizenship and work ethic. They want their players to want to represent their town (which is a lot easier now than it used to be). Don't get arrested, suspended, demand trades or change your name to Metta World Peace and everyone will get along just fine. Indy fans want to love their players; if players put forth a solid effort, fans will at least feel bad for a guy when he fails.
The Colts and the Indiana Pacers are both bursting with likable, young talent, and it's nice to see Indy's only two teams interacting with and cheering for each other. I used to imagine that Andrew Luck (studied architecture at Stanford) and Danny Granger (studied civil engineering at the University of New Mexico) would get together at an undisclosed location near Broad Ripple to build complex Lego sets. Alas, now Danny is with the LA Clippers and my dream is dead.
4. The Fan of Their Enemy Is Still Their Guest
When Indy hosted Super Bowl XLVI, Colts fans assembled their knitting needles like the swords of the Round Table to give all of their visitors a warm welcome via handmade blue and white scarves. And then they were forced to turn over the work of their hands to the invading New England Patriot nemesis. They'd do it again, if they had to.
Of course, history shows that the scarves were unnecessary during that glorious February in the Year of Our Lord 2012. And by the way, if you think that the people of Indianapolis are a little proud of how their Super Bowl week went, just give them a second Super Bowl in 2018. We dare you.
3. Even The New Guy Is Their Guy
Coach Chuck Pagano had only been in Indy a few weeks when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Coach Bruce Arians was brand new, too. I'm not sure they quite reached the Tony Dungy stratosphere in Indianapolis, but by the end of that season, they had to be flirting with Brad Stevens levels of popularity.
The only new guy I remember being particularly wary of was Adam Vinatieri, for obvious Cold War reasons.
2. It's Easy To be Nice When Things Are Going Well
Fans will always question the powers that be, like general manager Ryan Grigson (or Midas Grigson, as I choose to call him until things start falling apart) and coach Chuck (I wonder how many people think that he and Charlie Strong are the same person).
There are debates to be had about trades, salary caps, specific game management decisions, etc. But for two consecutive seasons, the Colts made the playoffs when hardly anyone expected it. Unexpected wins are the best wins.
Colts fans are experiencing a perfect storm of teammates who seem to genuinely love each other, a talented locker room and some well-timed luck (okay, maybe an over abundance of "Luck" puns is something we should start complaining about). Indianapolis is a really fun place to be a fan right now, and anyone who remembers Colts fandom in the late 80s/early 90s knows better than to take it for granted.
1. Some Colts Fans (Not So Secretly) Cheer For More Than One Team
If the Colts have a bad game, Indy fans sometimes get away with shrugging it off and saying, "Well, at least Peyton won."
Obviously, Peyton's departure is still a touchy subject. Some fans had mixed emotions about Denver making it to the Super Bowl (nothing directly against the Broncos, they just wished Peyton was still a Colt), while others cheered openly for the Broncos. Fans knew how much each win meant to him, and they got to share in a tiny piece of his success (while still able to maintaining a comfortable distance when the Broncos came up short).
Most of the Colts fans I know have a special place in their hearts for Eli Manning, too. He was always there to stop the New England Patriots from achieving world domination, especially in defending Indy's home turf in Super Bowl XLVI. You are perfect, dear Elisha, and we will be forever grateful.
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