They might the loneliest people in Massachusetts this week: fans of the Indianapolis Colts deep in the heart of New England on the eve of the AFC Championship game.
Lanesborough resident Michael Murphy, who works for a nonprofit agency and is a part-time wedding deejay, said his father turned him onto the Colts during the 1960s, when they were still in Baltimore and Johnny Unitas was the quarterback. He stuck with the team, even after they moved to Indianapolis. He refers to the Patriots as “the evil football empire.”
His worst football memories were “anytime (former Colts quarterback) Peyton Manning had to go to Foxborough in the winter and we lost the game.”
“I loved Peyton but it was always going to be tough when you rely on one guy so much,” said Murphy.
His favorite memory was attending the regular season Pats-Colts game in Foxborough in 2006 and witnessing a Colts victory. Marvin Harrison hauled in a catch in the endzone, where Murphy’s seats were located.
“One of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen,” he said.
This Sunday he may watch the game with his mother-in-law. She’s in her mid-80s, he said, and a huge Pats fan.
“I’m going to shoot my mouth off and tell Patriots fans ‘We’re coming in to kick your (expletive),’” he said. “And if we don’t win, we’re not supposed to be there anyways. That’s the attitude I’m taking.”
He raised his son, Derek, a 34-year-old R.N. from Dalton, to be a Colts fan. Derek still has a healthy fear of retired Pats cornerback Ty Law – “It seems like he would murder us every time.”
Derek, like his father, said he enjoys the back-and-forth banter with Patriots fans, who he says are overconfident.
“They like to gloat about how good they are and how they’ll never lose until they lose the next time and then they’ll say they’ll never lose until they lose the next time,” he said.
“It’s the Patriots game to lose,” he said. “To me the Pats look good especially at home. I don’t like my chances but I’ll certainly be rooting the other way.”
David Locke, a 35-year-old food service manager who lives in Tewksbury but grew up in Indiana, is also predicting a Colts win. He moved to Massachusetts in 2005; his wife is from Springfield. He loves Coby Fleener, has nothing but praise for the Colts offensive line and has dressed his 11-week-old daughter in Colts gear every Sunday in recent months.
He summed up Pats fans thusly, “I don’t know if I’d say they’re rude, I just think they’re a little overconfident. They’re kind of naïve to the fact that even though Brady is amazing he’s getting older and starting to slow down.”
He added, “I feel good, the only part of the nerves is the Patriots secondary is pretty good. If the Colts turn it into a dogfight, I think it’s going to be a surprise for a lot of New England.”
Tal Short is a 34-year-old Adidas product designer who lives in Franklin but grew up in Indianapolis. The taste of last year’s playoff defeat to the Patriots remains.
“My brother was in town and we had a bunch of Colts fans over. That was pretty tough to watch,” he said.
“Pats fans they’re definitely passionate – good and bad,” he said. “Look at the Kansas City game this year, after that, some fans wanted Brady out. I think the difference is in the Midwest we tend to stay a little more even.”
His wife is a Pats fan and Short says he relishes the trash talk.
“It’s been a lot of fun and she’s not a pink hat. She knows her football,” he said.
Asked about what Sunday will bring, Short hedges.
“The Colts are playing with house money. No one expected them to be here,” he said. “It’s going to come down to turnovers. It’s going to be a tough game. We’ll see.”