ROBERT IRSAY says he won't allow a new Baltimore pro football team to reclaim the name Colts from Indianapolis.
Let him keep the name. But let us use it, too. They do it in college football. For example, Towson State, Texas State, Princeton, Pacific, Missouri, Grambling, Clemson, Auburn and many many others are the Tigers. It's no problem. If Princeton plays Missouri, the players and fans can still figure out which team is which. They're not that dumb. Now, Auburn-Clemson might be another story, but. . . no! No! Just kidding! Cheap shot!
The Colts would have been my first choice for a team, if we get one. The first choice of entrants in The Baltimore Sun Name-That-Team contest last summer was the Ravens. That nickname got three times as many votes as the second choice (the Bombers). It's a good literary gesture (to Edgar Allan Poe's poem about that black bird), but it's not ornithologically correct.
Ravens are creatures of cliffs and mountains. "They have never nested east of Harper's Ferry," says Chandler Robbins, editor of Maryland Bird Life. "About once every 20 years you get a report of a raven flying over the Baltimore area."
Another very good name for us would have been Huns. For three reasons.
(1) Huns are tough customers, ferocious warriors.
(2) Though the original Huns were Mongolians, the epithet "Hun" was applied to German soldiers in World War I and World II, and Baltimore has a strong German tradition.
However, it is politically incorrect to have such a nickname. The University of Alabama at Birmingham announced last week that its mascot was being withdrawn. The team's nickname is the Blazers. For some reason they chose as a mascot "a Caucasian warrior."
But students protested that he was "too Aryan," as one UAB official put it. Another said, "Our main concern was it was a white male figure who didn't represent women or the ethnic mix on campus."
Now they're in a quandary. "It all goes back to the name Blazer. How do you pick a mascot to represent something that is rather abstract?" asked a UAB official.
Oh, Birmingham, can Baltimore, home of the 2 O'Clock Club, help you? Have a mascot based on the most famous blaze-r of all -- Blaze Starr. She could wear a brass-buttoned navy blue men's jacket -- only that -- and take it off at halftime!
Which brings me to the third reason why Huns is a good name.
(3) The outside world may think of it as too Aryan and not representative of women, but locals would know Hun is also a homophone for Hon, a nickname many here affectionately associate with women waitpersons.
The Hons came in eighth in The Baltimore Sun contest. Here's a thought: We could be the Hons/Huns or Huns/Hons with two sideline mascots, a waitress and a warrior. Let's see the politically correct crowd make something out of that!