In an age of TV revenue and big money sports, maintaining a winning franchise as a small market team is becoming increasingly difficult.
Not only are the finances lopsided (although less so in the NFL than other sports), the allure of the bright lights, warm weather and hollywood stardom often make it even harder to attract and retain top talent.
To succeed in a town like say, Indy, you need a whole lot of luck, even better management practices, an owner who is dedicated both personally and financially and did I mention, luck?
Fortunately, the Colts can check all of those conditions off the list.
Having the number one pick when Peyton Manning came out? Pure luck.
Having the good sense to draft him over Ryan Leaf? Excellent management and personnel decisions.
Having an owner like Jim Irsay? Good fortune.
Of all major league teams, the San Antonio Spurs and the Indianapolis Colts are far and away the most successful small market organizations the history of modern sports. In large part that's because for more than a decade now they have been the two best franchises in their respective leagues. The Spurs have won 4 championships in 13 years and the Colts were recently the all time winningest franchise in a single decade (2000s).
The accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable, in large part because small market teams face long odds (again, less so in football). Small market teams don't have the money to compete with teams like the Yankees, or can't offer the extra perks and fame of living in L.A. Furthermore for teams like Indiana and San Antonio, such cities cannot offer the parties and glamorous beach lifestyles that South Florida can. (No offense but their is a reason we're nicknamed Nap Town).
Point being, with the odds stacked against us, it's always nice to catch a break and given the recent statements made by a few key free agents, it looks like we might get a few after all.
In the interview which appeared in the Indianapolis Star, Johnson was quoted as saying, "It's not just for me, but any player who starts out with a team and is with them for four, five or six years, you want to stay to have that continuity. Especially in Indianapolis, where we've won 10 games for nine years, why wouldn't you want to stay in that situation?"
He went on to add, "I like going to Super Bowls. I want to win football games and get back to the Super Bowl."
Another key component to the Colts' success, Melvin Bullitt also expressed his desire to stay in Indy and start alongside Bethea in the secondary saying, ""I want to play in Indy again." That's what I'm planning on. But the reality is I'm not signed with anyone. I want to finish my career in Indianapolis, but I will have to make a decision quickly."
Whether the Colts ultimately sign both of them (although I think they will certainly try) remains to be seen. What is encouraging is that quality guys and players seem eager to stay and come to Indianapolis because they have a great thing going. As long as that is the case, Indianapolis will continue to be successful.