In an age of TV revenue and big money sports, maintaining a winning franchise as a small market team is becoming increasingly difficult.
Not only are the finances lopsided (although less so in the NFL than other sports), the allure of the bright lights, warm weather and hollywood stardom often make it even harder to attract and retain top talent.
To succeed in a town like say, Indy, you need a whole lot of luck, even better management practices, an owner who is dedicated both personally and financially and did I mention, luck?
Fortunately, the Colts can check all of those conditions off the list.
Having the number one pick when Peyton Manning came out? Pure luck.
Having the good sense to draft him over Ryan Leaf? Excellent management and personnel decisions.
Having an owner like Jim Irsay? Good fortune.
Of all major league teams, the San Antonio Spurs and the Indianapolis Colts are far and away the most successful small market organizations the history of modern sports. In large part that's because for more than a decade now they have been the two best franchises in their respective leagues. The Spurs have won 4 championships in 13 years and the Colts were recently the all time winningest franchise in a single decade (2000s).
The accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable, in large part because small market teams face long odds (again, less so in football). Small market teams don't have the money to compete with teams like the Yankees, or can't offer the extra perks and fame of living in L.A. Furthermore for teams like Indiana and San Antonio, such cities cannot offer the parties and glamorous beach lifestyles that South Florida can. (No offense but their is a reason we're nicknamed Nap Town).