Indy can be an exciting place, as long as you get to bed early
January 24, 2007
BY MARK BROWN Sun-Times Columnist
The impulse is to poke fun at our Midwest neighbors down the road in Indianapolis now that we are to be adversaries in the Super Bowl.
But to be honest, I think they have a fine little town and a most formidable football team, and I don't have any interest in picking a fight with them.
You won't catch me writing about Indy No Place or telling Hoosier jokes.
I mean, after all, we're going to need them to buy tickets to our Olympics in a few years, what with Indianapolis fans taking their amateur sports very seriously, as you would expect from a small town without a Major League Baseball franchise and no professional sports championships whatsoever of which to speak.
So I certainly wouldn't want there to be any hard feelings left over from some football game -- especially not after the way they still carry a grudge over losing that NBA Eastern Conference final where Michael Jordan broke their hearts, continuing to blame their own failure on the alleged NBA-NBC officiating conspiracy.
Despite that, I've always said it's really a credit to the people of Indianapolis and the surrounding environs that such a teensy-weensy place can even support a National Football League franchise.
I see no need to dwell, therefore, on the fact it took a conniving Chicago businessman whose own mother described him as "a devil on Earth" to bring that NFL franchise to Indianapolis in the first place, or to dredge up that whole business about the owner literally moving the Colts out of Baltimore in the dead of the night.
That's ancient history, March 28, 1984, which even predates the Super Bowl Shuffle.
I don't know about you, but I was rooting Sunday for the Colts to beat the Patriots and for Peyton Manning to lead the big comeback. Who doesn't like Manning, not only a great passer but the best football pitchman since Mike Ditka and nearly as over-exposed, although he would seem to be many years away from touting his own erectile dysfunction drug.
Manning seems like such a nice, ordinary guy with a great sense of humor in all those commercials. You have to admire his willingness to poke fun at himself in his ads, but I couldn't bear the thought of him having to do some commercial in the future that would play off the theme of him choking in the big game.
Just the same, I think the win over the Patriots gives him another year or two leeway before he actually needs to win a Super Bowl, don't you?
Just this past summer, I made my first visit to Indianapolis to take my kid to a swim meet on the campus of IUPUI, which the locals refer to as Ooey-Pooey -- a peculiar name for an institution of higher learning.
My stay was very pleasant. Downtown Indianapolis isn't an exciting place, by any means, but you can definitely be entertained for a weekend, as long as you get to bed early. I even found a decent pizza joint -- by Naperville standards -- one night.
You can get there from here -- sort of
While the signs in the downtown storefront windows would suggest that Bail Bondsman is the most thriving occupation in the central city, my son and his friends told me they also found a nice shopping mall.
I rented a bicycle and checked out a nifty bike path along the White River, which cuts through downtown Indianapolis. It doesn't really compare to riding a bike along Lake Michigan, but it's not as crowded either.
You can also ride along what they call the Historic Canal Walk, a cute if peculiar body of water. While the historic purpose of the canal remains unclear to me, its modern purpose is to soak up millions of dollars in federal funds and in the process anchor a downtown real estate revival. It would appear to be doing nicely on both counts.
The canal might have made more sense to me if it connected Indianapolis to some place important -- say Chicago or even Cincinnati. But it just kind of peters out, which, come to think of it, is what always seems to happen with Indiana's pro sports teams.
I've always thought it was noteworthy, too, that there is no single interstate highway connecting Chicago to Indy, although, obviously the connections are quite simple.
I suspected that was because our government leaders in Chicago didn't see any point in getting to Indianapolis in a hurry except to see the Indianapolis 500, while Indiana folks were afraid to make it too easy for some of our residents to visit, perhaps worried we'd send down our football team before they were ready.
Now they're as ready as they're ever going to be. It'll be a shame to break their little hearts.