Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Baltimore Colts (NFL) (1953-1983)

« Back to Projects Dashboard

Project Tags

view all

Profiles

  • Bob Wolff (1920 - 2017)
    Bob Wolff, a Hall of Fame sportscaster who spent more than 75 years as the voice of professional athletic events and who served as the first TV announcer for the Washington Senators, died July 15 at hi...
  • Tim Berra
    Thomas Berra (born September 23, 1951) is a former American football player who played for the Baltimore Colts in 1974.[1] He is the son of Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra and the brother of f...
  • Coach Robert "Red" Miller (1927 - 2017)
    Red Miller, who turned the hapless Denver Broncos into a defensive powerhouse and guided the team to its first Super Bowl , in 1978, in his first season as a head coach, died on Wednesday in Denver. He...
  • Don Shula (1930 - 2020)
    Don Shula, who on his way to becoming pro football’s winningest coach also fielded the only unbeaten team in NFL history, has died, the Miami Dolphins announced Monday. He was 90.“Don Shula was the pat...
  • Johnny Unitas (1933 - 2002)
    Constantine Unitas (/juːˈnaɪtᵻs/; Lithuanian: Jonas Konstantinas Jonaitis; May 7, 1933 – September 11, 2002), nicknamed "Johnny U" and "The Golden Arm", was an American football player in the National ...

The Baltimore Colts were the second National Football League franchise to play in Baltimore and have no connection, except in name to the first Baltimore Colts franchise that played in the NFL in 1950 and then promptly folded.

History of the franchise

Following World War II, a competing professional football league was organized known as the All America Football Conference which began play in the 1946 season. In its second year the franchise assigned to the Miami Seahawks was relocated to Maryland's major commercial and manufacturing city of Baltimore, which after a fan contest was renamed the Baltimore Colts and used the team colors of silver and green. These Colts played for the next three seasons in the old AAFC. until it agreed to merge with the old National Football League (of 1920-1922 to 1950), bringing into the merger of the new reorganized NFL of three former AAFC powerhouse teams: the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Colts (known by the designation of "AAFC" or "1947-50"). This new Colts team, now in the "big league" of professional American football for the first time, although with shaky financing and ownership however, played only one season of 1950 in the new reorganized "third" NFL, and was later disbanded and moved.

Two years later, in 1953, a new Baltimore-based group, heavily supported by the City's municipal government and with a large subscription-base of fan-purchased season tickets, led by local owner Carroll Rosenbloom won the rights to a new Baltimore NFL franchise. Rosenbloom was awarded the remains of the former Dallas Texans team, who themselves had a long and winding history starting as the Boston Yanks in 1944, merging later with the Brooklyn Tigers, and who were previously known as the Dayton Triangles, one of the original old NFL teams established even before the League itself, in 1913. With the organization in 1920 of the original "American Professional Football Conference" [APFC], (soon renamed the "American Professional Football Association", [APF.]), then two years later in 1922, renamed a second time, now permanently as the "National Football League". That team later became the New York Yanks in 1950, and many of the players from the New York Yankees of the former competing All-America Football Conference, (1946-1949), were added to the team to begin playing in the newly merged League for the 1950 season. The Yanks then moved to Dallas in Texas after the 1951 season having competed for two seasons, but played their final two "home" games of the 1952 season as a so-called "road team" at the Rubber Bowl football stadium in Akron, Ohio. The NFL considers the Texans and Colts to be separate teams, although many of the earlier teams shared the same colors of blue and white. Thus, the Indianapolis Colts are legally considered to be a 1953 expansion team.

The third (and current) version of the Colts football team played their first season in Baltimore in 1953, where the team compiled a 3–9 record under first year head coach Keith Molesworth. The franchise struggled during the first few years in Baltimore, with the team not achieving their first winning record until the 1957 season. However, under head coach Weeb Ewbank and the leadership of quarterback Johnny Unitas, the Colts went on to a 9–3 record during the 1958 season and reached the NFL Championship Game for the first time in their history by winning the NFL Western Conference. The Colts faced the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship Game in what is considered to be among the greatest contests in professional football history.[5] The Colts defeated the Giants 23–17 in the first game ever to utilize the overtime rule, a game seen by 45 million people.

Following the Colts first NFL championship, the team once again posted a 9–3 record during the 1959 season and once again defeated the Giants in the NFL Championship Game to claim their second title in back to back fashion. Following the two championships in 1958 and 1959, the Colts did not return to the NFL Championship for four seasons and saw a transition from head coach Ewbank to a young Don Shula in 1963. In Shula's second season the Colts compiled a 12–2 record, but lost to the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship. However, in 1968 the Colts returned with the continued leadership of Unitas and Shula and went on to win the Colts' third NFL Championship and made an appearance in Super Bowl III.

Leading up to the Super Bowl and following the 34–0 trouncing of the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship, many were calling the 1968 Colts team one of the "greatest pro football teams of all time" and were favored by 18 points against their counterparts from the American Football League, the New York Jets. The Colts, however, were stunned by the Jets, who won the game 16–7 in the first Super Bowl victory for the young AFL. The result of the game surprised many in the sports media[10] as Joe Namath and Matt Snell led the Jets to the Super Bowl victory under head coach Weeb Ewbank, who had previously won two NFL Championships with the Colts.

Rosenbloom of the Colts, Art Modell of the Browns, and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to have their teams join the ten AFL teams in the American Football Conference as part of the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The Colts immediately went on a rampage in the new league, as new head coach Don McCafferty led the 1970 team to an 11–2–1 regular season record, winning the AFC East title. In the first round of the NFL Playoffs, the Colts beat the Cincinnati Bengals 17–0; one week later in the first ever AFC Championship Game, they beat the Oakland Raiders 27–17. Baltimore went on to win the first post-merger Super Bowl (Super Bowl V), defeating the National Football Conference's Dallas Cowboys 16–13 on a Jim O'Brien field goal with five seconds left to play. The victory gave the Colts their fourth NFL championship and first Super Bowl victory. Following the championship, the Colts returned to the playoffs in 1971 and defeated the Cleveland Browns in the first round, but lost to the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship.

Citing friction with the City of Baltimore and the local press, Rosenbloom traded the Colts franchise to Robert Irsay on July 13, 1972 and received the Los Angeles Rams in return. Under the new ownership, the Colts did not reach the postseason for three consecutive seasons after 1971, and after the 1972 season, starting quarterback and legend Johnny Unitas was traded to the San Diego Chargers. Following Unitas' departure, the Colts made the playoffs three consecutive seasons from 1975 to 1977, losing in the divisional round each time. The Colts 1977 playoff loss in double overtime against the Oakland Raiders was famous for the fact that it was the last playoff game for the Colts in Baltimore and is also known for the Ghost to the Post play. These consecutive championship teams featured 1976 NFL Most Valuable Player Bert Jones at quarterback and an outstanding defensive line, nicknamed the "Sack Pack."

Following the 1970s success, the team endured nine consecutive losing seasons beginning in 1978. In 1981, the Colts defense allowed an NFL-record 533 points, set an all-time record for fewest sacks (13), and also set a modern record for fewest punt returns (12). The following year the offense collapsed, including a game against the Buffalo Bills where the Colts' offense did not cross mid-field the entire game. The Colts finished 0–8–1 in the strike-shortened 1982 season, thereby earning the right to select Stanford quarterback John Elway with the first overall pick. Elway, however, refused to play for Baltimore, and using leverage as a draftee of the New York Yankees baseball club, forced a trade to Denver.[14] Behind an improved defense the team finished 7–9 in 1983, but that would be their last season in Baltimore.