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'The Move Ep. 1: Baltimore' explores the rise and fall of the Baltimore Colts

Episode 1 of "The Move" is available on the Colts Audio Network on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Amazon Music. 

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We know how the story of the Baltimore Colts ended: With Mayflower trucks moving the team overnight to Indianapolis on March 28, 1984.

But as I began the process of putting together "The Move," our new four-part narrative podcast series on the Colts Audio Network, the first thing I wanted to do was understand what the Baltimore Colts meant to the city they called home from 1953-1983.

The story of the rise and fall of the Baltimore Colts is at the center of Episode 1 of "The Move," following the franchise from its founding to the glory days of Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore and back-to-back NFL championships – crucially, over the New York Giants – in 1958 and 1959.

"It's the first nationally televised championship game," Gerry Sandusky, a Baltimore native who's now the Voice of the Baltimore Ravens, explained to me about the 1958 NFL Championship. "It goes to overtime, the whole country sees it.

"We have Johnny Unitas and we are the champions. And that changes everything, because hey, if Baltimore is good enough for Johnny Unitas and Johnny Unitas can beat everybody, then Baltimore must be a special place."

Before the Colts started consistently playing in the NFL in 1953, and before MLB's Orioles arrived from St. Louis in 1954, Baltimore didn't have anything to measure itself against other East Coast metropolises like New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. So when the Colts not only arrived, but toppled New York's Giants to win consecutive NFL titles, it deeply ingrained the team in Baltimore's ethos.

And in a way that was unique to Baltimore at the time, the players reciprocated the support of their community by being active parts of it.

"These weren't just guys you rooted for," Sandusky told me, "these were guys who lived where you lived, who worked where you worked and were a part of the community you were a part of. You weren't just rooting for these idols and stars. You were rooting for your neighbor."

The Baltimore Colts were consistently one of the NFL's top teams from the mid-1950's through their Super Bowl V triumph over the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1970s. So why, then, was the team shipped out of the mid-Atlantic a dozen years later?

The answer I think quite a few Baltimoreans old enough to remember March 28, 1984 would tell you is simple: It was Robert Irsay's fault.

But through the reporting I did, and the conversations I had putting this podcast together, the answer is much more complicated than the actions of one man.

The answers to that question point back to the first owner of the Colts, Carroll Rosenbloom. They take us to the process that led Robert Irsay to buy the Colts – except, actually, he didn't buy the Colts. They take us to "Question P." They take us to Al Davis and the Raiders and several other places, people and actions.

But more than anything, the answers take us to the central figure of Episode 1: Memorial Stadium, the former home of the Colts.

"Memorial Stadium was shot," John Ziemann, the former leader of the Baltimore Colt Marching Band, told me. "That's the only thing I ever agree with Bob Irsay."

You can download The Move Episode 1: Baltimore on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Amazon Music. You can also listen to the episode on YouTube and the Colts App.

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