Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Shake hands with the devil

The Baltimore Colts football team had, as their pep song, a bouncy march called "Let's Go You Baltimore Colts!"

They didn't mean for them to go to Indianapolis, for crying out loud.

Mayflowers brought Indy
a load of stolen memories
But that's what we did, that night in 1984 when our NFL team slunk out of town in the middle of the night.  We wept bitter tears, and the man who caused all that was the mayor of Indianapolis, William Hudnut III. Desperate to turn a midwestern hellhole into a decent city, he built a football stadium and set about seducing whichever NFL team he could lure to Indiagodamnapolis with tax money. The unfaithful owner of our team, a devil on earth (his own mother said so) named Robert Irsay, took the bait and absconded.

Hudnut died the other day at age 84.  And What We Didn't Know was that, after serving 16 years in Indy, he actually wound up in Chevy Chase, Maryland (not the actor but the ritzy Washington suburb) and served that town as mayor. He had been a preacher in his early days, but went into politics with an (apparently sincere) belief that it was the best way to improve the lot of all citizens.

And he wound up in a long-term care facility in Chevy Chase and passed away here in Maryland.

People say that Baltimore was no better than Indianapolis; after 12 years without a team, we wooed the Cleveland Browns away from their home and made Ravens of them.  But the difference was, we were like spouses who had been cheated on and dumped, and we went out on the prowl looking for someone else to hook up with. The league disrespected us; their saturnine commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who always reminded me of a doctor who really doesn't mind giving news of imminent mortality to a trembling family and then hustling along for his golf match,  said we should take the money we set aside to house a new franchise and "build a museum."  And the league about broke their necks to award Cleveland a whole new franchise, currently the proud winners of one game this year.

Image result for kerouac scroll
The scroll
We really couldn't blame Mayor Hudnut for grabbing our team; he was just doing what he could for his town. Irsay, as foul a man as ever darkened a doorway, went for the quick buck and died, leaving the team to his son Jimmy.  Jimbo is no prize, what with a wake of a DWI arrest, a rumored drug problem,  and the suspicious death of a woman identified as his mistress in a house purchased with Colt money.  But he also purchased, and made available for display, the scrolled papers on which Jack Kerouac typed "On The Road."  

There really is good and bad in every soul!

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