The Baltimore Colts were established on September 4, 1947 as members of the All-American Football Conference. The franchise joined the NFL during the merger in 1950, playing as the Baltimore Colts until 1984, when the team was famously moved in the middle of the night to Indianapolis. Owner Robert Isray was instrumental in bringing the team out to the mid-west, despite years of success and loyal devotion from the Baltimore fans and the Hall of Fame play of quarterback Johnny Unitas. The 1984 team was made up of members from the Baltimore team, as well as new draft picks. The move to Indiana is marred slightly by the fact that the team traded away John Elway just before the move for a number of players who never quite panned out for the team.
It did not take long for the team to reach the playoffs as the Indianapolis Colts, securing the division championship in 1987. It took some time for the team to regroup, failing to reach the postseason again until 1995, as well as the return of former head coach Ted Marchibroda along the way. The Colts bailed out of the 1995 season in the AFC Championship game, bringing an end to Machibroda’s tenure as the winningest coach in team history, tied with Don Shula. Despite reaching the playoffs again the next season, by 1998 the team was 3-13 under new president Bill Polian. It was also the first season with Peyton Manning under center, whom the Colts had selected in the years previous draft. The next season all the pieces were in place, however, as the team set an NFL record with a ten game improvement as Manning, Edgerin James, and Marvin Harrison all blossomed into Pro Bowlers. The three set many records over the next few seasons, but still failed to go deep into the playoffs.
In 2002, Tony Dungy replaced Jim Mora as the head coach of the team. Manning and Dungy teamed up to form one of the most successful regular season teams in the history of the NFL, consistently posting double-digit win totals, including being the only team in league history to post seven straight seasons of 12+ wins. Still, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots constantly thwarted the playoff attempts of the Colts, despite Peyton Manning’s four MVP awards. The breakthrough came in 2006 when the Colts reached the Super Bowl to face the Chicago Bears, the only time that both teams were coached by Africans Americans (Love Smith and Tony Dungy). The Colts and Manning were on the winning end of the game, securing the first Super Bowl for the franchise. New head coach Jim Caldwell would lead the team to another Super Bowl in 2009, before falling to the New Orleans Saints.
The era of dominance came to an end last season when Peyton Manning sat our the entire season with a neck injury, leading to a 2-14 record, one of the worst seasons for the team since moving to Indiana. Peyton Manning left the team in the offseason for the Denver Broncos as the leader of almost every Colts passing record. The rebuilding process has begun with the drafting of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who will attempt to bring the team back to the top of the standings.