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Gary Brackett goes there: Colts are supplanting Cowboys as "America's Team"

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Not long ago, a poll conducted by Harris Poll asked people who "America's favorite football team was?" Predictably, a poll which samples 2,334 people, with only half those people polled saying they actual follow professional football (um, seriously, WHAT?), ranked the Dallas Cowboys #1 as the team everyone ranked as "America's Favorite Football Team."

One of the reasons there is this perception that the Cowboys are "America's Team" is that their fans used to travel so well with the club for away games. You'd see Cowboys fans in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Green Bay, etc. Today, you don't see this as much, which is why I think Harris Poll is a bunch of crap when trying to determine "America's Team."

But, if the Cowboys aren't "America's Team, who is?

I personally don't know, but if I were to do any kind of research into this, one of the first things I'd look at is how well do fanbases travel with the team's they root for. Two teams that have great traveling fanbases are the Steelers and the Packers. But, seemingly right there with them in today's game, are the Colts.

Indy has played three major primetime games in six weeks, and in each of those games the Colts have been on the road. Yet, when you look into the stands, be they in Miami, Phoenix, or Nashville, you see a lot of Colts blue. I mean, enough to make people like me say out load, "There are Colts fans in Phoenix?" Just FYI: The Cardinals made the Super Bowl last year, and almost won it. But if you looked into the stands at University of Phoenix Stadium in Week Three, you saw almost as many blue jerseys in those stands as you did red ones.

Indeed, for much for this season, Colts players have noticed that fans decked in blue have shown up to more away games than ever before. Just this past Sunday, the look and feel of the Edward Jones Dome more resembled the old RCA Dome than the home of the St. Louis Rams. This was something Colts linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett noticed, and it prompted him to make a rather bold, but perhaps accurate, assertion (from the Indy Star):

Linebacker Gary Brackett insisted the Colts nearly have supplanted the Dallas Cowboys as "America's Team."

"When we travel, you always see a lot of Colts jerseys out there," he said. "We feed off that. On third down, you could feel the crowd get going when we made a play."

Brackett is on to something here, because I've noticed through the TV what he's noticed live. Since the Cowboys have been pretty much irrelevant for 14 years, and since their fans no longer travel so well because the team is so very bad, have the Colts indeed supplanted the Cowboys as "America's Team?"

The presence of such a large number of Colts fans at away games has even gotten the attention of Peyton Manning, who made a great point Sunday about how the culture in Indy has changed since when he first arrived in 1998:

"It's funny," he said. "It used to be that way when I first got (to Indy). The Dolphins fans would always travel. The Steelers fans would travel and the Packers fans, those were kind of the teams that would travel. Even out in Arizona when we played, there was a lot of blue out there."

At the end of the game, Peyton thanked the fans who'd traveled to St. Louis, the QB seemingly in awe of how many blue shoe jerseys cheered from the stands. Dwight Freeney and Kelvin Hayden called Sunday's game a "home game." Players were buzzing about the traveling fans all during the interviews and after game press sessions, showing sincere appreciation for fans in Colts blue on the road.

At the end of the day, does it matter who thinks what team is "America's Team?" No. I personally don't believe any one football team truly is "America's Team," despite what corporate media and the Dallas Cowboys want to shove down our throats. But what this new wave of traveling Colts fans is showing us "old timers" is that the fan culture surrounding Colts football has changed... permanently.