Add to favorites Examiner Bio Indianapolis Colts 2010 training camp news: A farewell to Terre Haute after 11 years
June 2, 12:37 AMIndianapolis Colts ExaminerJohn Oehser
So, on Tuesday afternoon, after weeks of rumors, the news came that the Indianapolis Colts aren't going back to the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for training camp this season.
The Colts, after 11 seasons training in Terre Haute, Ind., will move camp to Anderson University in Anderson, Ind., the Indianapolis Star is reporting.
And so ends an era of sorts.
We at Indy Football Report won't insult intelligence by overemphasizing the change, or by waxing too poetic about the change in venue. The Colts will go on, of course, and there likely will be little visible difference on the field once the season begins.
Still, because the off-season is a bit of a slower news time and a time for reflection, let's reflect a moment on the Colts' time training in Terre Haute.
The Colts have trained there for 11 seasons, with those seasons not only 11 of the most successful seasons in franchise history, but an 11-year span successful on a level few NFL franchises have attained.
The Colts moved camp to Rose-Hulman in 1999, the year after Colts QB Peyton Manning's rookie season. They have missed the playoffs one time since, and in the Terre Haute era, the team has produced:
Seven division titles, six in the AFC South and one in the AFC East.
Ten playoff appearances.
Two Super Bowl appearances.
One Super Bowl title.
They have produced countless Pro Bowl selections, and more success during that era than any franchise has a right to expect, and while the presence of Manning obviously had a bit more to do with resume than the tiny engineering school on the east side of Terre Haute, there's little doubt Rose-Hulman will be missed.
Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy talked often of how perfect the campus was for training camp, and during Dungy's seven seasons as coach it often struck me as remarkable how much he truly enjoyed camp. And while it often struck me how much Dungy enjoyed everything about being a coach – from dealing with the players to doing his own errands and taking time to talk to front-office staff around the building – the memory of Dungy is one of the first things I think about when thinking about the Colts' 11 seasons at Terre Haute, nine of which I attended in some capacity.
So, that's where we'll start today – with Dungy – and we'll free-form a bit through some other memories and thoughts on Rose-Hulman as the Colts say good-bye to the campus after 11 years.
Dungy: There are few images as memorable for fans or media who covered the Colts at Rose-Hulman than Dungy walking everywhere around training camp. The team issued all coaches golf carts, and Dungy's was nicer than most of the rest of the staff, but I remember him saying in his first season – 2002 – that they were unecessary. The players didn't have them and he said he'd never use one, either. In seven seasons, I never saw him use the cart.
Arrival Day: So many memories on this day. Almost all involve baking in an unforgiving sun while waqiting three or four hours for players and coaches to arrive, playing guess-the-player as SUVs carrying players in their last free hours arrived for camp. But the best part about arrival day was Edgerrin James, and later, Reggie Wayne. James started a tradition when he arrived in a taxicab one year after an off-season when he made news for some seriously high-speed speeding tickets. Another year he arrived in a school bus carrying kids from his hometown of Immokalee, Fla. When James signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2006, Wayne – a close friend of James – carried on the tradition. He arrived for 2006 training camp in an Edgerrin James Cardinals jersey, and the year after the Colts won the Super Bowl, he arrived in camouflage, with the Colts being the”hunted” and all. Last season, he arrived in a dump truck with a hard hat signifying the Colts' needing to get back to work to make the Super Bowl. Wayne had the knack for turning a long day into something memorable, and at the time, he set the tone for the season.
Heat: OK, so that it's hot in Central Indiana in August isn't unique, but you can't mention Terre Haute camps without mentioning standing on the sidelines dripping sweat and trying tactfully find a way to stay out of the sun.
Dungy's power: Colts President Bill Polian used to joke that it never rained on a Tony Dungy practice. This isn't saying it never rained, but it was remarkable how few practices got rained out in Terre Haute in Dungy's time as the Colts' coach.
Autographs: Not having been to another NFL camp in nearly a decade, I can't say how much more or less Colts players sign autographs. What I can say is I have memories of watching the Colts' biggest names – Manning, Dwight Freeney, James, Wayne, Bob Sanders – stand and sign for for a long time after a lot of night practices over the last decade.
Dominic Rhodes: The strangest training camp injury in nine seasons covering camp in Terre Haute may have been Rhodes tearing his ACL in 2002. This was the classic no-contact injury. He was running a pass pattern, went down and – just like that – done for the year. Rhodes recovered from the injury and returned to have a solid, successful career for the Colts.
Bob Sanders: It was easy to see Sanders was special from the start of his time with the Colts. He made plays even as a rookie in 2004 that made players on the sidelines stop what they were doing and watch. But I knew he was special off the field the following season in training camp. Although he played only part of the season as a rookie, he came to camp in 2005 as a clear team leader, speaking of an improved defense and taking on a role as team spokesman.
The fans: Not to be too trite, but if there's one overriding theme for Colts training camp in Terre Haute – or any NFL team in any camp, for that matter – it's the fans. With the league necessarily being relatively distant from fans during the regular season and much of the off-season, camp remains a few weeks each season when fans can truly get relatively close to teams at a pretty reasonable price. And that's why just about any fan could write a far better post about memories of Terre Haute than this one. Doubtless, thousands of Colts fans have memories of their own, special memories of Terre Haute, and while such memories will certainly be created in Anderson, there's little question that considering the players, the seasons and the titles that have been associated with Terre Haute, it long will occupy at least some level of a special meaning to Colts fans for many years.