When it comes to being a fan of any sports team, the term "Jumped on the Bandwagon" often refers to someone who began liking a team AFTER that team found success. Technically that term could refer to me and when I started enjoying the COLTS, but since 1995 my passion for the Colts has never faltered and my blood has run BLUE and WHITE ever since. Up until 95 the Indianpolis Colts were the team that got bad draft picks and made questionable trades. They usually ended with a losing season but somehow in 1995 they made the AFC CHAMPIONSHIP with a sort of unknown QB, Jim Harbaugh. Up to that point Harbaugh was known for his attitude but also had a heck of an arm and great at making a comeback. So they made the AFC Title game and it all came down to 1 play which was a hailmary pass from Harbaugh but in the end they came up short and lost the game. But to me that was THE GAME that made me love the INDIANAPOLIS COLTS.
Up until 1995 I had liked the Cowboys because they were always winning and I was only 12 so I thought they were cool. But after the AFC CHAMPIONSHIP I decided I was going to be a Colts fan and over the years I have grown to become one of their biggest fans. I always say 1995 was the year I jumped on the bandwagon but in 1998 I started to eat, sleep, and breath on it because that was the year we drafted the GREATEST QB OF ALL-TIME, PEYTON MANNING.
The 1997 season for the Colts was horrible from start-to-finish. I remember hearing sports broadcasters talk about this QB from University of Tennessee who was most likely going to be the #1 pick in the 98 draft, so since the Colts were probably going to get that pick I started to watch a few of Peyton's games and I was excited. My fondest memory of Peyton at U of Tenn. is actually not of him playing but of him leading the band after they made the Rose Bowl. The draft comes around and sure enough the fledgling Colts just got the greatest college QB prospect ever and this is when I started to be proud of being an INDIANAPOLIS COLTS fan.
Since 1998 I don't think any other NFL team has endured a bigger roller coaster ride like the Colts have had. For the greater part of a decade they were one of the greatest teams in the NFL and made the playoffs every single year but the 2006 season has to be the greatest for all Colts fans. I remember watching the 2006 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP and praying that this was going to be the year we finally defeat Tom Brady's Patriots and I have to admit there was a time in the 3rd quarter I got scared but it was so great to see Peyton and Company finally make it over the hump so to speak. Plus I live in Indiana so for the Colts and the Chicago Bears making it to the Superbowl together was pretty special because before the Colts arrived in 1983, most football fans from Indiana cheered the Bears.
My biggest heartache as a Colts fan came in 2012 when it was announced that Peyton Manning was leaving the Colts after 14 great seasons so they could pursue another fantastic college QB prospect in Andrew Luck. I will admit I shed a tear or two when Peyton left and to this day it still hurts a little. Peyton became my idol and during his 14 years as a Colts it was a special time for me personally. I had a friend who became quadriplegic after a dirt bike accident in 1999 and he too loved the Colts and Peyton. I always went to his place to watch the games and we'd always speculate if Peyton would retire as a Colt and he always thought the Colts would keep him forever. Unfortunately in December of 2010 my friend passed away due to complications but he left this earth knowing Peyton Manning was a Colt and I always think about that. That's how passionate he was about this team and Peyton Manning and I know when I leave this earth I will be a Colts fan for life. It's just a little unfortunate I had to see Peyton wear a Denver Broncos uniform.