Matthew Schroeder grew up on the East Side of Indianapolis. His dad was a Green Bay Packers fan. His mom was a fan of the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers.
“I liked a little bit of everybody,” he said.
He was a young boy when the Colts came to town in 1984.
“I have a picture of me back when the shirts were kind of navy,” he said. “It was the first Colts shirt that we had. I have a picture of me with one of those on.”
He was instantly a fan, but it wasn’t until the Jim Harbaugh era that the team really won him over.
“The Comeback Kid,” he said. “I was like, ‘Man, the heart of this team is incredible.’ It wasn’t really until the Peyton Manning era that I got to see the core values of the team unfold. The class that Indy is known for really came out then.”
And it brought the superfan out in him.
“I saw the Superfan and I said I wanted to do something like that to motivate people because it was the Super Bowl season and I had predicted the Colts to win the Super Bowl in week eight.”
He picked an old wrestling tag team as his theme, The Legion of Doom. But he didn’t have his sidekick just yet.
“My wife and I had been trying to conceive and I think we were on miscarriage number five at that point.”
But just like the Super Bowl, he had a feeling.
“I said, ‘We’re going to have a boy. I know it. We’re going to have a boy first and a girl second. And this boy is going to be my tag team partner.’”
On February 4, 2007, the Colts won the Super Bowl.
Later that year, his wife, Rachael, got pregnant.
Max was born in 2008 and Nora followed in 2010.
Schroeder's family was complete – and so was his superfan identity.
Max has been dressing up for as long as he can remember. Schroeder took him to training camp for the first time when he was 2 ½ and took him to his first Colts game at five.
“He said, ‘You know, Dad, I really like dressing up. It makes a lot of people happy.’”
And that’s what being a superfan is all about.
In March, Schroeder got an email from the Colts. They wanted to send him to the NFL Draft in Dallas. He was stunned.
“I was speechless at first and I had to read it again and then a third time, then I had to let it soak in.”
They also sent his mentor, the original Colts Superfan, Michael Hopson - and they both got to bring a guest.
“I said, ‘This is going to be like a business trip. We’re going to have fun, but this is going to be like work,’” Schroeder said. “If they’re going to believe in me to do this, then I’m going to go above and beyond. I’m not going to let them down.”
During the draft broadcast, they gave it everything they had. So much so, the Colts superfans caught the attention of the other teams.
“When the camera came to us, I saw three or four other team reps going, ‘Oh, my God!’ I was like, ‘Look at them. They’re watching how it’s done.’”
Schroeder enjoyed bonding with Colts fans from all over the country. What he didn’t anticipate was how much he would enjoy bonding with the other superfans.
“I did not expect a bunch of rival teams to bond like we did,” he said. “I expected it to be a little bit of fun, razzing each other, whatever. I didn’t expect everybody to call you brother and sister and hugs and high fives and connecting on Facebook.”
They may represent different teams, but one thing brought them all together.
“People really do unite because of football,” he said. “That was pretty incredible.”
Superfans have a group called the Superfan Alliance. And they also have a code of conduct.
“The heartbeat of being a superfan is that no matter what, you’re always on stage. Whether it be in person or on your social media outlets, you can’t be one of the people that mopes. That’s counterintuitive to what being a superfan is.”
And if someone breaks that code, Schroeder won’t hesitate to step in – as he’s done in the past.
“I had to have a discussion with one of the superfans. He made a negative comment and I direct messaged him and we had a conversation,” he said. “I saw the moment to – I don’t want to say a coaching moment – but I coach football and my career is being a manager. So I was like, ‘This is what I would have done instead.’”
Fandom is serious business – especially to the superfans.
For Schroeder, representing the Colts at the NFL Draft was a dream come true. And doing it alongside the man who inspired him made it even more special.
“The joke on the trip was that it was a family outing because he’s my superfan dad.”
And his superfan son is already following in his footsteps.