Three NFL franchises & one AAFC franchise have existed in Baltimore since 1947. The AAFC Baltimore Colts (1947-49), the NFL Colts (1950), the NFL Colts (1953-1983), and the NFL Baltimore Ravens (1996 to present) have experienced a common malady. Drafting a QB with their #1 pick has given them a fit.
To date, it appears that of the eight QB's drafted with the first pick, it seems we finally hit a winner with the last pick. Joe Flacco's numbers are the best of the bunch. Bert Jones runs a respectable second. Jones had three good seasons when injuries dimmed his star.
The rest of the bunch are another story.
Three are in the Hall of Fame.
Two of the draft picks were so bad that they were the last straws leading to the demise of the Baltimore Colt franchise.
When the Colt franchise moved to Indianapolis, the QB draft curse ended. The Colts had moderate success with draftee Jeff George. Then came Peyton. Will their "luck" run out in 2012?
Here comes some names of the "number one's" who were picked to lead the Colts and Ravens to glory.
Ernie Case arrived in Baltimore from the defunct 1946 Miami Seahawks of the All-America Football Conference. Miami chose Ernie with their their No. 1 draft choice. Ernie chose to finish his college career in 1946 at UCLA.
In 1947, his contract transferred to the AAFC Baltimore Colts. Ernie was drafted by the NFL Green Bay Packers. The NFL and the AAFC did not have any boundaries with respect to their players. Although the AAFC only lasted 4 years, they had some very good players. The Cleveland Browns led by QB Otto Graham were the powerhouse franchise. They moved to the NFL in 1950 and dominated their new league, winning three championship through the first half of the fifties.
The AAFC had teams on the east and west coast. They traveled by airplane. unlike the NFL that traveled by train, and did not play on the west coast. Ernie stayed with the Colts in Baltimore, where he was able to play in front of family in friends for the two games in California. He did not play much, attempting 11 passes and completing 4 for the green and silver clad Colts. He retired after the 1947 season.
Adrian Burk was the first player picked by the Baltimore Colts in the 1950 NFL draft. Adrian backed up Y.A. Tittle as the QB of the woebegone 1950 Colts. Following the collapse of this franchise, Adrian played six years for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cotton Davidson, from Baylor, should be remembered by Colt fans for one thing besides the one game he started as a QB in 1954.
Cotton was the last Colt to wear number 19 before Johnny Unitas arrived in 1956.
George Shaw came to Baltimore Colts as their #1 draft choice in 1955 from the Oregon Ducks. The Baltimore Colts with Shaw as QB, compiled a 5-6-1 record in their third year with the NFL.
In 1956, George Shaw started off with a 1-3 record, being replaced by rookie walk-on QB Johnny Unitas during the fourth game of the season. Unitas remained the starting QB with George as his backup through 1958.
Shaw moved from the World Champion Colts to the runner-up NY Giants in 1959 where both teams repeated the 1958 outcome. In 1961, Shaw played for the expansion Minnesota Vikings. He retired after playing one season for the 1962 Denver Broncos.
The Baltimore Colts solved all of their problems with drafting QBs when Unitas took the field.
In 1955, Johnny Unitas was released by the team who drafted him #9 out of Louisville. This team favored their #1 pick of the 1953 draft over the home town boy, Unitas.
See the next slide for the name of the QB who beat out Unitas on this 1955 roster.
Unitas & Marchibroda remained friends until John's passing in 2002.
With the departure of John Unitas, the Colts returned to the draft board to chose a "franchise QB". Along came Bert Jones, "The Ruston Rifle" from Louisiana. Jones was a scrambling QB from LSU who led the Baltimore Colts back to respectability with consecutive playoff appearances in 1975, 1976 and 1977.
Bert Jones should get plenty of credit for awakening the sleeping Baltimore football fan. This team won the hearts of Baltimore Colts fans who were shocked at how the management "dumped" so many Colt veterans after the 1972 season.
Sadly, a shoulder injury cut Bert's career short and he missed the 1978 and 1979 seasons. The spark never reignited.
Bert's career was over at about the same time the Colts franchise was preparing to relocate. Bert's early demise was another nail in the coffin of the Baltimore Colt franchise.
Art Schlichter played three games as a Baltimore Colt. He finished his career logging 10 games with the Indianapolis Colts. Art's career is a waste of God-given talent.
The Baltimore Colts were winless in the 1982 season.
Art Schlichter was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in a million-dollar ticket scam. He tested positive for cocaine while serving a house arrest sentence on these charges. The judge cancelled his home detention, sending him to prison. Schlichter's final sentencing has been postponed while his mental acuity is reviewed by medical professionals.
Hall of Fame QB John Elway made it perfectly clear to the Baltimore Colts—if you waste a draft pick on me, I will sign a contract with the New York Yankees.
The Baltimore Colts drafted Elway.
They traded him to Denver Broncos for a fine defensive player, Chris Hinton, but it didn't matter. The city of Baltimore was fed up with the hapless management of Colts owner, Bob Irsay. Baltimore had it's fill of athletes who refused to play in Baltimore (e.g. Reggie Jackson in 1976).
The Colts had a pretty good season (7-9) under Frank Kush in 1983, but it wasn't enough. Barely 20,000 people attended the final game the Colts would play in Baltimore.
Thirteen years would pass before we had a chance to draft another football player.
During these 13 years, Baltimore took great pride with the world-famous inner harbor restoration. The Orioles moved downtown to a fabulous new ballpark. Cal Ripken, Jr., took the reigns as the fan favorite as he surpassed Lou Gehrig's record of 2131 consecutive games played.
The state of Maryland had a savings account with $200 MM set aside for a new football stadium. In 1996, Baltimore introduced the Ravens and the NFL back to "charm city".
Joe Flacco (2008) is best #1 QB drafted in Baltimore football history.
Joe has led the Ravens to the postseason in each of his four seasons with the Ravens. His four consecutive trips to the playoffs beats Bert Jones record by one and John Unitas' record by two.
Flacco is not without critics. Winning the big one is the only way to silence the naysayers. He remains a snag from a small college.
Hall of Fame QB Bobby Layne chose to sign with the 1948 Chicago Bears of the NFL rather than the 1948 Baltimore Colts of the AAFC.
Y.A. Tittle was drafted first by the NFL Detroit Lions in 1948. He chose to launch his Hall of Fame career with the 1948 Baltimore Colts, AAFC. He remained in Baltimore through the 1950 season.
The Colts franchise folded after the 1950 season, sending Y.A. to play for the San Francisco 49ers. He finished a marvelous, Hall of Fame career as a New York Giant.
These are some #1's who played for the Baltimore Colts franchise ...
(Clockwise from top left.)
Greg Landry, Earl Morrall, Tom Matte*, Lamar McHan, and Marty Domres.
* Tom Matte was drafted #1 by the Colts from Ohio State. His primary position was halfback. He filled out the depth chart as our #3 QB. In 1965 a tie-breaker game to determine the winner of the NFL Western Conference was played between the Colts & the Green Bay Packers. Matte was forced into his only starting role as a QB for the Baltimore Colts. The game was lost on a contested field goal by Packer kicker Don Chandler.
(Clockwise from top left.)
Jim Harbaugh (1998), Trent Dilfer (2000), Vinny Testaverde (1996, 1997), and Steve McNair (2006, 2007).
George Shaw was a Duck, Colt, Giant, Viking, and a Bronco between 1951 and 1962. Shaw is Oregon’s first two-sport all-American, as a QB and an Outfielder. Shaw was inducted into the Oregon Hall of Fame in 1992.
Ryan Leaf, 2012 Mug Shots
I wonder if the Baltimore Colts would have picked Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning?
The Indianapolis Colts showed the folks in Baltimore how to pluck a useful QB out of the draft. Jeff George was OK ... Peyton Manning was sublime.
I like Mr. Luck as a 2012 Colt. I worry about RGIII as a Redskin. Why? The Redskins draft QB's with about the same proficiency as those old Baltimore football teams.