Current Bleacher Report writer and former 18 to 88 editor Nate Dunlevy and I have always argued about... well, pretty much everything. However, in a recent article for BR, Nate discussed the current state of the Indianapolis Colts fanbase and how "resentful" they are of the organization and Jim Irsay.
Of course, the Colts have done little to help themselves with fans. For years, the franchise treated the preseason with contempt, and this year the NFL did them no favors. By giving the Colts home preseason games in the first and fourth weeks, they created a massive incentive for fans to delay purchasing tickets.
At this stage, fans interested in Colts tickets would be wise to wait until after the preseason to make a purchase. Tickets for the preseason can be had for as little as $3. Only a fool would purchase season tickets now, knowing that they'll be discounted by $140 in just over a month.
Furthermore, the Colts have done a terrible job reaching out to fans who are frustrated with the direction of the franchise. Long known as the most restrictive team in terms of media relations, the Colts have recently thawed toward the Indianapolis Star, but have left most other media outlets out in the cold.
Again, I will not shy away from my very public (well, as public as Twitter can be) shouting matches with Nate, but just because he and I don't see eye-to-eye on most things does not mean I'm completely dismissive his opinions. When it comes to the thoughts conveyed in the article highlighted here, Nate is 100% on the money.
This nugget from the post was particularly noteworthy:
The Colts still do not credential online writers, meaning that their fans under the age of 40 are not getting the coverage of the team they deserve and demand.
There's little to no evidence the Colts face any long-term crisis among their fans. Everyone agrees most if not all games will sell out in 2012, and the larger economic issues facing the nation will hopefully soften as well.
As training camp opens this weekend, people like Nate and myself will not be credentialed. This is a moronic policy, especially considering my relationship with the NFL itself is great. Stampede Blue writers get credentialed for Scouting Combines, Drafts, Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, and other major events.
But a Colts practice? Nope.
I know that, for most fans out there, you really don't care if schmucks like Nate or I get credentialed. However, I agree with Nate that for the long term health of the fanbase, the Colts and Jim Irsay need to pull their heads out of their butts and listen to what we have to say.
At a critical time for this franchise, the Colts need all the good publicity they can get. This offseason has been brutal, mainly because Irsay has been seemingly incompetent when it comes to P.R. Should Peyton Manning return to an MVP level of play in Denver while Andrew Luck struggles early in Indianapolis, Irsay will continue to be viewed as a bumbling circus clown by what Nate refers to as "the oldest Colts fans." Should Irsay continue his ridiculous treatment of online media, the "youngest" Colts fans will also view Irsay unfavorably.
I know the Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz has been a proponent of this policy mainly because he views blogs as some sort of "competition" (whatever the hell that means), but I also know that several of his colleagues at the Star agree with Nate and I. It's a dumb policy.
Consider that one of our writers, Andrew Mishler, cannot get credentialed through Stampede Blue. However, he can be credentialed through the Ball State school newspaper.
Hey, speaking of stupid:
Veteran writers at CBS Sports, Yahoo!, FOX Sports, and the NFL's own website also think the Colts polices hinder the franchise's ability to engage its fans, not help it. I know because I've talked to them while working at drafts, Super Bowls, and other major events I've been credentialed to along with them.
It's frustrating for me because I do truly love the Colts, but the way they conduct business with the public is so soul-crushingly inept I have a permanent hand print on my forehead left there by all the times I've slapped it when Irsay has said or done something dumb this offseason.
It doesn't need to be this way.
Kudos to Nate for writing the article. Maybe someone named Irsay (be it Jim or his daughters, who will eventually take over when he retires) will listen to it.
[UPDATE]: I literally just got an email from Nate, and he kindly told me that he was recently informed that the Colts will credential him and Bleacher Report for Colts training camp this year. It seems like someone at West 56th Street took the hint. Nice to see that they are listening.