The Mount Rushmore Of The Baltimore Colts
Back on June 17, Pro Football Talk made a Mount Rushmore to represent the entire Indianapolis Colts history. The site chose Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison as the four biggest names in team lore. Whether those are the four correct names or not is certainly up for debate, but instead, let’s make two separate Mt. Rushmores to represent two incredibly significant and different eras of the team – one for the Baltimore years and one for the Indianapolis era.
Today, I give you the Colts Mt. Rushmore, Baltimore edition (1953-1983).
George Washington – Gino Marchetti
Gino Marchetti is very much the George Washington of the Colts. Not only is he in the discussion for greatest Colt ever, he was on the original 1953 team. Because sacks were unfortunately not recorded as an official statistic in Marchetti’s time, he usually isn’t mentioned in best-pass-rusher-of-all-time discussions.
But he absolutely should be.
He might not have sack totals to prove it, but he’s got Pro Bowls and All NFL 1st team selections – 11 and seven, respectively, during his 13 years in Baltimore. Offensive linemen in the ‘50s wanted to face anyone but Marchetti.
Abraham Lincoln – Johnny Unitas
Johnny Unitas was the slam dunk choice for this list. He gets the Abraham Lincoln selection as the greatest Colt of the Baltimore era. Unitas completely revolutionized the passing game. Instead of seeing football as a physical game, he took a precise timing approach and reaped the benefits. He retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, won three championships and was awarded three league MVPs. Need I say more?
Thomas Jefferson – Jim Parker
Like Thomas Jefferson, Jim Parker is the underappreciated superstar of this Mt. Rushmore. Offensive linemen typically don’t get the credit they deserve, and Parker certainly is not exception. From 1958 through 1965, Parker had eight straight seasons in which he was selected to the Pro Bowl and was named to the All NFL 1st team. Even more impressive, the first four were as a left tackle, and the last four were as a left guard. Sure, they’re both offensive line positions, but they’re not the same, and the fact that the change didn’t limit Parker’s dominance at all is amazing. Parker was also the first player to be elected to the Hall of Fame based only on his blocking merits. Had it not been for Parker’s protection, Unitas may not have reached his full potential.
Teddy Roosevelt – Raymond Berry
Raymond Berry is the wildcard of the bunch. There’s the debate of how successful he would have been had caught passes from quarterbacks not named Unitas, but you can’t deny his production. As Unitas’ favorite target, Berry led the NFL in receiving yards and receptions three times and twice topped the league in receiving touchdowns. When he retired, he had the most career receiving yards and was tied for fourth in touchdown receptions. Maybe more importantly, he set the tone for other receivers in Baltimore. He was the first to spend countless after-practice hours working with Unitas and told other receivers they had to do the same if they wanted to earn the respect of Unitas.
Lenny Moore – Oh so very close to nabbing the last spot over Berry. Moore never led the league in rushing or receiving, but that’s because he was so good at both. Through 1964 – his final Pro Bowl and All-NFL 1st team selections – Moore had averaged 5.3 yards per rushing attempt and 17.3 yards per reception. He was always a safety net for Unitas if no one else was open.
Art Donovan – Another original from the 1953 team. Donovan’s five Pro Bowls and four All-NFL 1st teams combined with Marchetti and Big Daddy Lipscomb helped create one of the most dominant defensive lines in NFL history.
John Mackey – Not only was honored by having the college football award for the nation’s best tight end named after him, but also widely regarded as one of the best NFL tight ends ever, if not the best. Mackey retired at age 31 third only to Mike Ditka and Jackie Smith for career receiving yards by a tight end. Yet, he wasn’t inducted into the Hall of Fame until 20 years after his playing career ended.
Weeb Ewbank – Coached the Colts to their first two championships, but only lasted nine seasons.