When a team that is expected to finish at the bottom of the league ends up winning 11 games and going to the playoffs, this is the result:
Nearly 95 percent of 2012 season ticket holders, estimated at 57,000, have renewed their orders. That’s a return to the standard Peyton Manning-era renewal rate after the team experienced a noticeable and anticipated dip — approximately 87 percent renewals — last offseason in the wake of the tumultuous 2011 season and subsequent roster purge.
"You never take anything for granted. It’s positive to see the renewal rate so high," Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward said. "It mirrors what we had done for the last decade for the most part."
The team also has sold all 141 suites at Lucas Oil Stadium.
I'm already told that ESPN's Mike Greenberg applied the "fair-weather fan" label to Indianapolis today on his radio show with Mike Golic. The interesting twist is that Greenberg used the praise to praise Colts fans, saying that last year's shunning of the team sent a clear signal to owner Jim Irsay that he had mistreated Peyton Manning by releasing him in March of 2012.
Personally, I think Greenberg is mistaken if he actually believes that, and if anyone truly feels that Peyton Manning was "mistreated" by Irsay, that person is in serious need of a straight jacket and morphine.
Last year around this time, Manning was gone, Irsay was repeatedly sticking his foot in his mouth on Twitter, and the team's roster was mostly made-up of castoffs and nobodys. Andrew Luck was the presumed heir to Manning's legacy, but this was before he set a rookie QB record for passing yards and fourth quarter comebacks.
Indiana fans were more loyal to players they liked and rooted for than they were to the Colts. Plus, there is still some very tangible anger directed at Irsay for how he continues to fleece the city with that ridiculous stadium deal he has. Thus, many did not renew their season tickets.
Now, after Chuck Pagano's feel-good story return from cancer treatments, Andrew Luck's rookie heroics, Ryan Grigson winning Executive of the Year, and an 11-win season, people are buying again.
That's pretty much fair-weather fandom, defined.
Readers might not like reading that, but it's the truth. I'm at the point now where I shrug my shoulders and walk on. Obviously, it's great that fans have connected with the team once again, but I can't help but feel a tinge of anger when I see that Irsay has 141 suites sold for 2013 and then has the stones to ask the taxpayers of Indianapolis to pay for renovations to Lucas Oil Stadium.
But, maybe that's just me.