In the last year and a half, the Indianapolis Colts fan base has had quite the ride. We watched the Colts play through a magical season in 2009, having a disappointing, yet understandable, end to the regular season. We watched them march through the playoffs, raising our hopes and expectations as they reached their second Super Bowl in 4 years. We had those hopes and expectations dashed by Hank Baskett and Tracy Porter. The Colts came into the seasons with high hopes and expectations once again, but again they were lowered, as we were hit with bad luck and problems of the past. Yet the Colts fought on, making it to the playoffs, still having a shot as both the offensive and defensive line improved in the last weeks of the regular season. Yet in the end, the injuries and weaknesses of the team won, and the Colts were once again out of the playoffs, heading into the off season with uncertainty, criticism, and no Super Bowl ring.
As for Stampede Blue, we've had our own separate ride as well. It's frowned upon to speak of all that has happened, but it has caused quite a tension. This tension has continued to filter into the community even until today, as people who are more critical of the organization are "BBS apostles" and people who are more trusting are "blind" or "holding water for BP."
The truth is in neither of these "sides," but in the middle, as truth usually is. In fact, Bill Polian is not the devil, and is not the cause of all things wrong with the Colts. Yet he is not perfect either, and has made his share of mistakes. The Colts franchise has formed itself into a winning franchise, with much credit due to Polian building. And yet, Polian still makes mistakes, such as Tony Ugoh, or signing Hank Baskett (okay, can't really fault him for that... but still). Of course, other things are debatable, such as Jim Caldwell, Gene Huey, or Donald Brown. But the fact is that the Colts are a winning franchise, one of the most successful of the past decade, and a franchise does not get there by making stupid decisions.
What we have to support in the Indianapolis Colts of the present is something incredible. Something unique. Something that not all fanbases have (I live in Michigan... so the Lions come to mind...). First, we have the Greatest Quarterback Of All Time running our offense. A chance like this comes up once in a life time. There has never been a player who commanded the offense with the knowledge and preparation that Peyton Manning does. It has been a pleasure to watch since 1998, and one that I'm sure will never be equaled. There are great quarterbacks (Tom Brady, as painful as that is to say), but watching Peyton is something different. It has truly been a blessing to witness his legacy grow.
Another thing we can appreciate is the organization itself. While Bill Polian may be a jerk to fans, as a whole, the Indianapolis Colts are a classy organization. Involved with the community, winning with class, and not tolerating the circus that goes on in other cities, the class that this franchise exhibits is a fine thing to support. It makes the Colts more than just a good football team. It makes them part of the community, something that Colts fans can be quite proud to support.
But what I want to focus on, is the opportunity we have here at Stampede Blue. The format of this SB Nation website, with it's fan posts, commenting style, and Fan Shots, allows for a very unique opportunity for fans around the world to communicate and support their team in a very communal and easy way. Unfortunately, the internet anonymity also allows for trolling. During the past year or so, I believe we've seen a decline in this communal feeling at Stampede Blue. Part of this, is due to the departure of many core contributors. However, we are here, and there are many of us, still have the opportunity to have this community.
In order to have this community, I ask you to think about and hopefully act upon, a few things. Know that these are merely suggestions from my point of view to aid in making Stampede Blue a more communal place for Colts fans, not anything you must follow or even consider. If you have suggestions as well, I would encourage you to leave them in the comments. If you think this is all a waste of time and stupid, then you can say that too. This is only my opinion after all.
Refrain from insulting other posters- Aside from the few asinine, illogical, douchebags that you get on any online forum, the majority of people here on Stampede Blue are smart and logical. As most of us here have only a fans perspective of the National Football League, most of the ramblings here will be opinions. Usually the opinions here, even if opposing, are not stupid or moronic. While they may be different from your own, try and show your opinion with facts and logic, which can be done without incessant insulting.
Remember that the majority of contributors are Colts fans- While there are a few fans from other teams (Comedic.Sans), trolls, and bandwagon fans, the vast majority at SB are true Colts fans. We bleed blue after a win or a loss, and we will for a very long time. While some may be more critical than others, generally we all support the Indianapolis Colts, and want to see the best out of them.
There's nothing wrong with being positive- We're fans. We are going to support our teams. Being positive is just that, not "holding water for Polian."
There's nothing wrong with being negative- We're fans. We're going to criticize, and we are going to look for solutions. Criticizing is just that, it doesn't mean we're "not true fans" or "Polian bashers!"
Participate in open threads!- Open threads are a great way to interact with other fans, without it necessarily being a debate, or even about football. Game threads are one way to do this, usually set up by BBS on the front page, and I would encourage you to watch the game while on the game thread, if possible. But, as the off season goes on, there will also be other open threads, for things such as the NFL draft. These do not have to only talk about football in these open threads. Use them to get to know other posters, to create that community feeling. If there would be more support in more open threads here on Stampede Blue, email me or comment. If there were a lot of interest, we could start more of those. If not, oh well. :)
Have some fun!- Don't be afraid to crack a joke, even at the expense of the Colts. We're all just normal fans here, and should interact as such. The more you let yourself go, and contribute, the better interactions you'll have with other fans, and the more communal this will be.
Don't be afraid to contribute!- If you read Stampede Blue, but generally don't comment or write fan posts, I encourage you to get involved! I myself "lurked" for a year or so before joining SB Nation and beginning to contribute. Trust me, you'll get much more knowledge from the experience of interacting with other fans, and others just might have something to gain from you as well. This brings me to...
Stampede Blue is much bigger than BBS' opinion- While BBS maybe the site editor and main writer, this blog is not just BBS. The format of SB Nation assures that. With four other staff writers, as well as hundreds of members, Stampede Blue contains much more than the opinions of BBS. I encourage you to read the Fan Posts (there's been some great posts by DevilsReject, radtad, candlebox, XLI, and ColtsBrAzil, just to name a few), read the analysis of the other staff writers, such as mgrex03, Collin McCollough, nopunintended, and emiller17, and read (and participate in) the comment sections. These fan inputs often are a great source of opinions and analysis, and should not be overlooked. BBS' opinion/analysis is not the majority of the content here, and if his opinion or style doesn't agree with you, there is still much to be gained around here.
If you have any other suggestions of ways for Stampede Blue to improve (for us members, let's leave BBS and the writers out of it for this one), please comment.
This off season, I would encourage you to think upon, and act upon, these things. If you think this is silly and a waste of time, by all means say so. That's the beauty of SB Nation and Stampede Blue, all opinions and analysis can be for us to grow as Colts fans, and as a community. I personally would love to see Stampede Grow into something bigger than just a Colts news/analysis site with a few comments. Stampede Blue has the potential to be an amazing community for Colts fans, and I hope to see that potential turn to reality.
Thanks for reading, SB members! You all are the reason there is a Colts blog. Go Colts!