Have any of you out there realized that every fall it seems your Sundays take on a new meaning? Does your spouse, partner, or significant other turn into an entirely different person for 17 to 22 weeks from September to February? And then, do they spend the next six months telling you how they can’t wait until next season? Were you like me and thought that when you heard Peyton Manning was out for the season (most likely), you might have the chance at a few normal Sundays–you know, church, lunch, playing with the kids in the backyard? Not a chance. If this sounds familiar, you too are married, dating or spending too much time with an NFL football fan.
Having grown up in a family of all girls, with a dad who couldn’t tell you if Peyton Manning played football or was a member of the cast of SNL, it has been quite an eye opening experience to be married to a man who literally wears the same outfit for every Colts home game, down to the same hat that he claims helped them reach and win a Superbowl. I don’t have the heart to tell him that I think he accidentally switched hats with an identical version of the hat this year, which may explain the current Colts season; I am concerned that he will blame himself for Manning’s injury and the Colts collapse.
My husband, Josh, is by my estimation a true Colts fan and every September our life takes on a true blue meaning. So much so, Josh will not even entertain alternative plans on Colts Sundays, unless of course I make him. “What? Who has a birthday party during a Colt’s game? They must not be a Colt’s fan.” This has been said very seriously to me more than once throughout the years.
Josh is not alone. Colt’s fans come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Some admit it and some try and hide it, especially this year. Josh does not, however, sugar coat his annoyance with friends and family who schedule birthday parties or ask him to schedule outings on a Colt’s game day. “That’s just ridiculous,” he will say. “Who in their right mind would do such a thing?” Or when asked to play flag football on Sunday afternoons this fall, Josh declined questioning how much fun flag football could be when real football fans, i.e., people who may actually know how to play football, would be watching the Colts and NFL football all afternoon on Sundays.
In my world, home or away, it is inexcusable to miss a Colt’s game. Thank goodness for DVR, the only way he (and many other fans no doubt) will ever consider missing a live broadcast of a Colts game. In the rare event we are able to do something extracurricular on a Sunday, Josh refuses to answer his phone, view texts or emails, or listen to the radio in fear he will hear the score and ruin his game viewing pleasure. For example, in January 2005, when the Colts played the Steelers in the AFC divisional playoff round, Josh begrudgingly agreed to have our first born baptized that Sunday. Seriously, he wanted to know every possible alternative date before agreeing only after realizing our daughter would be nearly one year old if we kept waiting (I have to admit, I had no idea this was a playoff game or frankly who we were playing; thanks honey for filling in these details). Consequently, we had strict rules for the baptism and after party. To attend, friends and family had to agree not to check the score or share any news about the game, so that when we all returned home from the baptism, we could watch it as though it was live. Then when the Colts lost because that kicker with the weird name, Vander-something, missed that field goal, Josh was convinced our day had somehow upset the football gods and it has been a rare occasion since that we do anything, outside watching games as a family, on Sundays.
And don’t get me started on his “man cave.” Our basement is a Colts shrine adorned with what he consider the finest pieces of art, to the extent that Colt’s paraphernalia can be considered “art.” I am regularly amazed by the question I get each time he tries to hang his newest piece: “This looks great, don’t you think?” Josh asks as he hangs another signed, mirrored picture of some Colt’s player or jersey. I remind him that “it’s just another thing for the kids to try and avoid while they are playing soccer in the basement.” His response, “please try and keep them from hitting this,” as he hangs it above the soccer goal.
I thought Josh was a crazed Colts fan until I met one of Josh’s friends, Ed Holloran, a tried and true Colt’s fan like no other. Now Ed is a not a face-painting lunatic like I see when I go to games, but Ed is one of the most endearing Colts fans you will ever meet. Not only is Ed the biggest fan of Indianapolis, the city, he is a die-hard Colts fan who wants everyone he meets on a Sunday to join him as he celebrates another Colts season and convert to his second religion. To accomplish his goal of converting the masses, Ed hosts a tailgate before each home game at Victory Field that is simply unrivaled–at least in my humble opinion; but in fairness, my tailgating history was limited to cracking a beer in the tailgate of my dad’s truck at the local tractor pull in southern Indiana. Regardless, every home game, Ed selects a specific cuisine from the opposing teams’ hometown. For example, for the October 9 game against the Chiefs, he made Kansas City style barbeque. In the past, he has made sushi for Seattle, cheesesteak for Philadelphia, New York Strip when we played the Giants (they are from New York, right?). Ed plans his meals before the season begins and often spends days cooking and preparing the meals, sometimes cooking all night long. “This is my life,” says Ed. “I live for tailgating and cheering on the Colt’s.” He too has a basement filled with Colt’s gear and autographed everything (as an aside, I just learned that Ed’s soon to be born son will be named “Colton,” Colt for short, you get it). I’ve been told that he bleeds blue. Yet, to his credit, the crowd that surrounds his real Weber grill on Colt’s Sundays seems to grow each year and the legend continues.
Like Josh and Ed, there are no doubt thousands of others just like them. Men, women and children a like. So as I suffer through yet another year of NFL football, I smile at the simple foolishness of it all. But I have to say, now that I have three young children, two of which who are old enough to dress themselves, it is fun to see how excited they get to don their Colt’s Sunday best and, the excitement they share with their father as he explains how Dallas Clark, Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne combined to win a game (ok that was last year, but you get the drill). In the end, I will never be a die-hard Colts fan, but I cannot help but get caught up in Colts fever every now and then. Here’s to next year (as I understand we are likely not going to make the playoffs, though I am not really sure why that is such a big deal as they play again next year). By the way, what’s this “Suck for Luck” campaign I keep hearing about?