Once upon a time the Baltimore Colts were the heart and soul of Baltimore. I remember when we couldn't wait until the next season started and I'm not even much of a football fan just a casual watcher. In the 1950s and 1960s especially they were very special. When we had Johnny Unitas we were one of the best teams ever.
The Colts entered the National Football League in 1953 with classic blue and white uniforms with a horseshoe on the helmet. However, these weren't the very first Baltimore Colts, because they were around starting in 1947 in the All-American Football Conference which later merged with the NFL but the Colts had financial problems and went out of business and out of the league. However another team in the NFL, the Dallas Texans, was being disbanded in 1952 and the league challenged the Baltimore group to sell at least 15,000 season tickets in six weeks which the city did. At that point the Dallas Texans became the new Baltimore Colts and the uniform was pretty much borrowed from them (but we changed the name).
The original owner was Carroll Rosenbloom and the first season was a mess until Weeb Ewbank was named head coach in 1954. By 1957 the Colts were a powerhouse team that went on a straight run of 14 winning seasons in the NFL. In 1958, 1958 and 1968 they won NFL Championships (1968 was a Superbowl but the first Superbowl was in 1967 so any championships before that were just called NFL Championships). During this time they had great players such as Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti.
In 1958 the NFL Championship game was one of the best of all times. The Baltimore Colts played against the New York Giants on television to the biggest TV audience for a sports game ever up to that time and the game was so exciting that a lot more people got into watching football, including my father who then made me watch football with him every Sunday for the next six or so seasons until he passed away and could no longer watch football with me very often. We saw a lot of good games and I had a picture of Johnny Unitas up in my bedroom for the longest time until it yellowed.
Another memorable game was Superbowl III after the 1968 season because Don Shula had replaced Weeb Ewbank as head coach of the Colts in 1963 and Weeb Ewbank was the head coach of the New York Jets now. This would be the game where Joe Namath promised victory and delivered and Ewbank would have a great deal of satisfaction as well beating his former team in the really big game.
Two years later the Colts would win Superbowl V but then things got really weird for the team. Owner Carroll Rosenbloom actually traded teams with Robert Irsay who up until that point was the owner of the Los Angeles Rams. Shula would leave to be the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, which he is more famous for, and although the Colts would win a lot of AFC East titles after the merger of the AFL and NFL they would not be a championship team any more (putting the Colts in the AFC instead of the NFC even though they were an NFL team and not an AFL team which was a bad idea I think).
Starting around 1978 possibly due to disco the Colts really started becoming a bad team. They were losing games and having losing records and not impressing anyone anymore. Then in 1982, Robert Irsay packed the team up on a truck and drove them to Indianapolis to become the Indianapolis Colts. This was one of the greatest insults in all of sports, more so than the moving of the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore years later because they stole the name of the team. Because of this horrible injustice, the city of Cleveland has the Browns again but Baltimore has the Baltimore Ravens. They should be the Colts again and the Indianpolis Colts should be called something else. Feelings are split on the Colts now in Baltimore. Some see them as still the Colts and Irsay as the devil and others root against them every week. Ronald Reagan was president when the Colts moved and he didn't do anything because he was preoccupied with air traffic controllers.
There is a new Houston Texans team but they didn't steal the name from the Dallas Texans (who were the Baltimore Colts before they went to Baltimore) because Dallas has the Dallas Cowboys and they don't need the Texans and I guess Houston doesn't want to have the Houston Oilers again.
I got some of my information from www.NFL.com