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Happy New Year and thank you Stampede Blue, Colts fan community

While no two years are the same, there was something excruciatingly different about 2020.

Shortly after the 2019 NFL season ended, the world went into the process of locking things down and asking people to stay home. We’ve been encouraged to keep our circles small, to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, and to stop its spread. This has led to an extended disruption of our daily routines and will surely result in long-term or even permanent changes to the way a lot of people live their lives.

In some ways, it seems funny to think that these changes would have any impact on the life of “bloggers.” Most of our content is generated from our homes as it is, making the pandemic seem like a non-event.

Of course, the reality is that everyone’s home lives have been impacted in one way or another by the pandemic. Our writers have families and a variety of new responsibilities that have crept into their “new normal” routines. Keeping a positive attitude and staying mentally sharp has been challenging as people have been unable to visit with family during the holidays or spend time with friends, no tailgating or big concerts, no movie theaters, and empty or closed bars and restaurants.

In spite of all of this, Stampede Blue and the Indianapolis Colts have had a good year and I wanted to take the time to acknowledge the contributions of so many and to thank our community for the support.


STAMPEDE BLUE TEAM

There have been a lot of big life changes for the writing team.

My wife Monica and I are expecting our first child in March. We’re incredibly excited. Monica used to work as a behavioral therapist for autistic children but the pandemic changed how those services are provided and led to her staying home much of the summer and fall. I’ve been working permanently from home since March.

Chris Blystone has had his home life get even busier with his three children requiring attention throughout the day. The challenges associated with the new demands on his time certainly resulted in the community seeing a little bit less of his work but he has pushed through these difficult months and persisted.

Mateo Caliz returned to our team for a second season and has delivered pre-and post-game analysis. He is a student who has contributed consistently, even through finals and his other school responsibilities. Mateo lives in Argentina, which adds to the geographical diversify of our writing team’s perspectives.

Matt Danely has gone through some big life changes and worked in one of the most demanding professions imaginable during a pandemic. Matt works for the postal service and has likely dealt with a heavier workload than at any other time in his career. He has had to take a step back this year, but we wish him well as the holiday season comes to a close.

Elliot Denton is one of two writing team members who contracted COVID-19 this year. He’s living proof that the UK hasn’t established herd immunity and that the US is not alone in dealing with the ramifications of this virus (also, he, Andrew Aziz, and Mateo Caliz all spell the word color wrong, adding a “u” in there for some reason). Elliot has been very active this season with injury reports and helping to cover breaking news stories, as well as running a Q&A each week and managing the Stampede Blue Twitter account.

Zach Hicks got married this year and has been involved in a variety of football-related projects, including joining Jake Arthur as a co-host on the Bleav in Colts podcast. Zach continues to work with Cover1.net and has put together a variety of live film review sessions that are new to Stampede Blue this season.

Speaking of Jake Arthur, who formerly wrote for Stampede Blue and Colts.com, he moved on to Sports Illustrated’s Colts team page online (although we tried very hard to bring him back to our team), started the Bleav in Colts podcast, and welcomed a baby girl to the world this week. We keep tabs on our writers as best we can and we’re so very happy for Jake as his family grows.

Jared Malott continues to host our Post-Game Wrap videos, co-hosts the Afternoon Pancakes weekly podcast with Stephen Reed, and has brought a weekly betting feature to the website this year. His betting pieces, along with Troy Russell’s game predictions, bring a new element to the site. He also serves as the fantasy football league czar for the community leagues we put together each year — a more demanding job than one might think. Jared has embarked on a variety of different career paths over the last year and is currently working to return to school with a desire to one day coach sports - from high school to the pros.

We learned this year that Troy Russell is old. Like old enough to have fathered numerous others on the team. There is something comforting in that. His statistical analysis and insight is second to none and reminds me of when a parent gets down to brass tax on a topic. Living on the west coast, we’re simply happy to know that Troy didn’t have too much trouble with the wildfires that were raging earlier this year.

Luke Schultheis joined the team this year and has been a big addition, particularly as it relates to covering breaking news. Those in the community who have been around since Josh Wilson served as the site manager have likely been aware that our strength was never snagging the daily news stories and getting them to you on the front page to discuss. Luke has served in that role this year and joined with Elliot and other team members to make sure that our community doesn’t have to go anywhere else to get the Colts content they want. Luke is one of three attorneys who are a part of the team and graduated from law school within the last year, and officially embarked on his legal career.

Chris Shepherd has also gone through a year that has brought about many changes. He has been responsible for taking care of his daughter as schools and daycares close for long periods. He has also been working on the “front lines” so to speak in the medical and surgical industry. It’s possible that his profession led to his exposure to COVID-19, which he also had to fight through this year. He continues to bring the most comprehensive look at opponents as can be found anywhere through his weekly scouting reports and helps diehard fans learn a lot more about the complexities of the game.

Thomas Skulski joined the team this year and has introduced a new feature called Championship Fever. This has allowed the community to view the ups and downs of the season from the perspective of not only how the Colts’ playoff chances have been changing but gauging whether the team appears poised to make a deep playoff run. He has also picked out key players each week before and after the games.

There are others who have contributed this year as well. Andrew Aziz has brought perspectives on the salary cap, contracts, free agents the Colts should target and introduced the Colts faux Madden rankings. Andrew hails from Canada, again expanding the geographic diversity of perspectives available at Stampede Blue.

Other members of our team include Faraz Majid — who oversees Stampede Blue’s Facebook page, Richard Clark — who helps to moderate site comments, Greg Rader - who helps the staff edit and schedule stories when they are submitted during the regular workday, Blake Pace - who helped gather our Stampede Blue writing community weekly game picks, and Stephen Reed - who co-hosts the Afternoon Pancakes podcast with Jared (Stephen is the third attorney on our team).


THANK YOU TEAM

I want to thank the members of our writing team for all of their contributions. My relationships through Stampede Blue mean a great deal to me.

While every site leader has their own vision, mine has been the same for over a decade (even when I started my own Colts blog called Coltzilla while I was in law school). It has been my goal to accumulate the most talented group of Colts’ fan writers/minds as can be found anywhere on the internet.

Thank you to the team for the hours they put into producing quality Colts content, film breakdowns, producing podcasts and video content, and helping to educate the Colts fan base in a way that simply won’t and can’t happen anywhere else. I’m proud to be a part of this team and to see each member grow and develop — even when that growth leads them to new places.

Again, thank you.


THANK YOU COMMUNITY

I also want to thank our readers and members of our community.

SB Nation has undergone some rather disruptive changes this year, starting with a new commenting system that has certainly received a lot of feedback. Thank you to all of you who have stayed around and provided insights on how we can make the new system better.

I can say that SB Nation leadership has been actively taking the information you’ve shared and improved the commenting system consistently over the course of the season. A few new enhancements are on the way that will really make the community happy and bring back some features that have been in high demand.

The thing that has always set Stampede Blue apart from other hubs for Colts content is its community. I appreciate all of those who keep the comments active and engage others in discussion. I appreciate all who produce FanPosts and who bring issues to our attention. We know the community will ebb and flow and have no doubt the COVID-related changes have dampened a bit of our activity this year but we will always want to do and be better for you.

Thank you for sticking around and making this a great place for Colts fans. Cheers to a new year and to getting back to something resembling normal.

As always, if you have ideas or feedback, please let us know. If you really like content in the FanPosts, help us out by bringing it to our attention. You can find my contact information by clicking on the hyperlink associated with my name and I’ll be happy to review your ideas and to send you a response.