"I have loved football as an almost mythic game since I was in the fourth grade. To me, the game wasn't even grounded in reality. The uniform turned you into a warrior. Being on a team, the mythology of physical combat, the struggle against the elements, the narrative of the game..." ~ Steve Sabol (NFL Films)

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

A Loving Gift to the Ghosts of Baltimore's Glorious Football Past

Name a team and town in America that is synonymous with the game of football... Most of us south of the border today will give you a variety of answers depending on where one lives. For many of us here in the Midwest it is Green Bay or my town of Chicago (which really is the cradle of the NFL being hometown to the only two remaining charter franchises). For others it is Dallas, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, etc.

However, for many of us who live in the states and who love the CFL, there truly was only one American town we know that people in the Canadian football and one horse towns could relate to, and that would of course be Baltimore.  Just the word "Baltimore" conjures up images of some of the greatest professional games ever played, including "Ghost to the Post," the game in which was an homage and loving gift from the ghosts of Baltimore's glorious past....

However, the football gods would provide one last loving gift from the ghosts of Baltimore's glorious past, as the last truly great Baltimore team (the Ravens were born in Cleveland and thus do not count) did not end in 1977 on that dusty December infield at 33rd Street. No, far from it.  For the City of Baltimore would once again know football championship glory, albeit brief, and then, like the girl who is left at the altar for another woman, the team that vowed to make those who bled blue and gray feel whole again, would be ultimately forced to flee and end up ignored and forgotten...

Following the controversial relocation of the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis in 1984, the city of Baltimore tried and practically begged, albeit unsuccessfully to get a replacement NFL franchise, and was constantly spurned. However, in 1993, the CFL awarded the city an expansion franchise, under the custody of former Washington Redskins assistant coach Jim Speros, who sought to take over the immensely loyal fan base left behind by the old Colts. In that spirit, Speros adopted team colors and a logo very similar to those of the relocated franchise. Most importantly, he also adopted the Colts’ old marching band, cheerleaders and fan clubs.

He then named the new team the "Baltimore CFL Colts," but was forced to drop and then change the name after the NFL went to court to contest the use of the name “Colts.” Initially, Speros changed the name of the team to the "Baltimore Football Club," though local fans and team officials continued to refer to the team as the Colts. With the difference between Canadian Football and American football in mind, Speros then hired extensively from the CFL with Don Matthews, a longtime CFL coach, appointed as head coach. Of course, Memorial Stadium, which was in its final years, would serve as the home for the new team, and its hallowed ground the CFL would provide for the true fans of the Charm City, a loving gift to the ghosts of Baltimore's glorious football past....

The Stallions’ started playing during the 1994 season. They finished second in the CFL East Division with a 12-6 record in the regular season. This was a record for the most wins by an expansion team in the CFL. They had the third best team scoring record in the entire league and also the second best defense. In the East semifinals, the Stallions beat the Toronto Argonauts 34-15 at the Memorial Stadium. They then beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 14-12 in the East Finals, to become the first and only American and expansion team to play in the Grey Cup Final. They faced the British Columbia Lions in the Grey Cup game, losing 26-23 after having led 17-10 at halftime.

1994 Grey Cup

1995 Grey Cup

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