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Robert Irsay Speaks At Press Conference

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[Indianapolis, IN]- Four decades ago, sports in Indianapolis changed.

On the night of March 28, 1984, the then Baltimore Colts loaded themselves into Mayflower trucks and drove in secrecy to the Circle City. Ever since then, the Colts have called Indianapolis home.

Rick Venturi was only two years into his NFL coaching career when the Irsay’s moved the Colts to Indy. Venturi joined the Wake Up Call with KB and Andy to share a firsthand account of the night that Indianapolis got their NFL team.

“The speed and the stealth that it was done, it was just fast, quick.” Venturi said.

The story of the move from Baltimore to Indy came after some troubling times for Colts’ ownership and the city of Baltimore. Before then, the Colts were one of the better franchises in the NFL. In the late 1960s to early 1970s, the then Baltimore Colts had made the playoffs five times from 1964-1972. The Colts played in three League Championship games, winning Super Bowl V against the Dallas Cowboys.

After their success in the mid-20th century, the Colts franchise started a downward spiral. They would not make the playoffs for three straight seasons after losing to the Miami Dolphins in the 1972 AFC Championship and would not win more than five games during that time. From 1975 through the early part of 1978, the Colts had made the playoffs, but never made it past the Divisional Round. Their last Divisional Round lost to the Raiders in 1978 was the last time the Colts made the Playoffs in Baltimore.

After a string of losing seasons, and one winless season in 1982, the Colts noticed a decline in fan attendance at Baltimore Memorial Stadium. Then owner Robert Irsay went to the city to try and get a new stadium built, but his request fell on deaf ears. After a 7-9 1983 season, Irsay was given approval by the league to move the team.

“The Colts crashed and burned in 1980,” Venturi said, “They hit the bottom in 1981. Everyone said to us, don’t get rooted here. This is a very fluid situation, Bob Irsay is trying to get a stadium.”

Now with league approval, Irsay started the search for the Colts new home. Prior to choosing Indianapolis, Pheonix was a front runner for the organization.

“He had serious negotiations with Arizona,” Venturi shared, “Arizona wanted us bad, Coach (Frank) Kush was an icon there, so there were a lot of boxes there that we could have checked.”

However, with a new stadium built in Indianapolis in preparations for an expansion or relocated team, Indianapolis became the home of the Colts.

Since that night in 1984, the Colts have made the playoffs nineteen times, won their division nine times, and brought the Lombardi Trophy to Indianapolis once.

Hear the full conversation with Coach Venturi here:

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