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Under The Cover Of Darkness: Baltimore Colts Remembered 30 Years Later

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Ron Matz is an Emmy award-winning reporter who joined the Eyewitness...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—March 29, 1984. If you were in Baltimore, you’ll never forget what happened on that night–the snow, the Mayflower vans, a city left with a broken heart.

Ron Matz has more on the 30th anniversary of the Colts leaving town and what’s happened since.

The Mayflower vans came under the cover of darkness.

By daylight, a city realized its beloved football team was gone.

“This is when our community, the sports community and maybe the whole of Baltimore, the whole state got sucker punched,” said Mike Gibbons, Sports Legends Museum executive director.

Owner Robert Irsay was taking the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis.

“Did we expect it? Maybe we did. Irsay had been making noises for a long time, but when it finally happened, it just hurt. We were all fans. We loved this team and they were so much a part of us,” Gibbons said.

The old “Baltimore Colts” lettering is now displayed at the Sports Legends Museum. The complex is now home to Stevenson University. It’s sacred ground. The Colts were a religion.

“We’re in higher ed. History means something to us. We’re really proud to be here,” said Brett Adams, athletic director Stevenson University. “The Colts were here before. We talk to our athletes about being in this facility and what it means to be in this facility and the people who were here.”

What happened in the snows of March left grown men shaken.

“I still to this day feel sorriest for William Donald Schaefer, the mayor. He put so much into trying to keep the team here. The embarrassment he went through at the airport with Irsay, and our guy had to stand there and take it. We were the laughing stock around the NFL because of that,” Gibbons said.

Stevenson says its team is the community.

“It’s important to us to give back to the community,” Adams said. “It’s kind of what the Colts did a long time ago and what the Ravens are doing now. Hopefully, we can hold the torch and do something for the community too.”

Wednesday night at Stevenson University, the Sports Legends Museum will host a program called “Under the Cover of Darkness . . . 30 Years Later.”

“A lot of good guys who covered the event will be at Stevenson on Wednesday night. Tom Matte will represent the Colts. It’s going to be a special evening just to reflect back. We have moved off that spot but the spot is still there,” Gibbons said.

Wednesday night’s Sports Legends Museum program at Stevenson University begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $55. For ticket information, click here.

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