The Long, Strange History of How the Indianapolis Colts Were Once the Dayton Triangles
The Colts have called Indianapolis, Indiana home for almost 40 years since Bob Irsay, the father of the current owner, Jim Irsay, infamously moved the team with no warning from Baltimore in the middle of the night back in 1984. But, that wasn't the first time the team relocated. Technically, it had been bouncing around to different towns after starting as one of the NFL's original franchises, the Dayton Triangles.
Who Were the Dayton Triangles?
The Dayton Triangles were born in 1916 in Dayton, Ohio. The team was comprised of players from recreational leagues around the city, many of which were employed at three factories in the city that, based on their locations in town, formed a triangle shape, hence the name, the "Triangles."
The team was one of the original 14 teams that made up the National Football League back in 1920, and played in the very first NFL game on October 3rd, 1920 when they faced, and beat, the Columbus Panhandles 14-0.
The Long Road to Indianapolis
After a strong start during their first couple of seasons, The team went from one of the best in the league to one of the worst in 1922. That continued to be the case through the remainder of the 1920s, according to Dayton Triangles.com. Of course, when a team isn't very good for a long period of time, fans stop coming to the games which obviously cuts into the team's revenue potential. This is where the team's long road to eventually becoming the Indianapolis Colts began.
In 1930, the team was sold to a group of owners from Brooklyn, New York who moved the team and renamed them the Brooklyn Dodgers (not to be confused with the baseball Brooklyn Dodgers who became the Los Angeles Dodgers). The new owners were not able to turn the team back into a winning franchise, and in 1945, the NFL merged the team with the Boston Yanks, according to That One Sports Show.
Did the merger turn the team around? No. No, it did not.
The team then returned to New York under a new name, the New York Bulldogs, only to change back to the New York Yanks sometime in the late 1940s. After another few years of being terrible (my words), team owner Ted Collins was dismissed and the team was sold back to the NFL in 1951.
Still with me? Good. Because we still have a few more stops to make.
In 1952, the League sold the team to a group from Dallas who relocated them to the city and renamed the Dallas Texans. The team continued its losing ways, only lasting in Dallas for one season. They folded and were sold yet again to a man named Carroll Rosenbloom who took them to Baltimore and named them the Colts.
In Baltimore, the team finally found some success and stability thanks in large part to Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas who led the team to a victory in Super Bowl V (5) in 1971.
Gone Like a Thief in the Night
Roughly one year later in 1972, Robert Irsay took control of the Baltimore Colts when he, "essentially traded his ownership in the Los Angeles Rams with Caroll Rosenbloom," according to History.com. Under his watch, the team went from a consistent contender to one of the worse teams in the league. On top of that, he had a reputation for being difficult to work for and with. A point he proved in March of 1984 when after the city refused to pay for upgrades to the team's home stadium, he secretly made a deal with the city of Indianapolis, packed everything up in semi-trailers, and moved them there n the middle of the night without telling anyone in Baltimore. Not city officials, not the fans, no one.
If you've been a long-time Colts fan like me, you know the team didn't get much better after the move to Indy. They had a winning season here and there but were never a consistent contender until drafting Peyton Manning in the 1998 draft. Even then, it would take nearly another decade before they would lift the Lombardi Trophy again as the champions of Super Bowl 41 in 2007. They haven't captured the trophy again since then, but maybe this will be the year, right? RIGHT?!?!
Anyway...there you have it. The long, strange history of how our beloved Indianapolis Colts are technically one of the NFL's original teams, the Dayton Triangles.