INDIANAPOLIS — Mike Jansen walked into Ripley Auctions house Wednesday morning and left behind the rings he used to wear with pride, his Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl ring and AFC Championship ring from the Peyton Manning era. Those tiny, shiny, diamond-studded relics of an incredible time in his life. A time that turned sour.
There weren’t any tears shed at 2764 E. 55th Place, where Ripley Auctions does business, taking the items clients drop off, putting them up for bid and turning them into cold hard cash. But there were definitely memories, Jansen said, and a split second of hesitation. But that quickly dissipated as those rings, in Jansen’s heart, were now forever tarnished.
Jansen was fired by the Colts in September as the preseason played out, after 24 seasons as the stadium announcer, a gig he won in 1998 during an open-call audition against more than 300 competitors. It was a wonderful journey that took him from the RCA Dome to Lucas Oil Stadium, one that took him through the Manning and Andrew Luck eras, two Colts Super Bowl appearances and one ring.
There was no explanation from the team on why Jansen was out of a job. Just that the Colts were “moving on.” They named Colts.com writer JJ Stankevitz as Jansen’s replacement for the remainder of the 2022-23 season.
“As a company policy, we don’t publicly discuss the reasons for a termination,” Colts’ chief operating officer Pete Ward told IndyStar last month. ”We have the utmost respect for Mike and truly appreciate his contributions through the years. But this is the entertainment business and difficult decisions need to be made at times.”
Difficult decisions, Jansen had his own to make about those rings. Having them around just didn’t feel right as the days and weeks passed after his firing. Jansen started thinking about everything he had given to the team and those rings seemed to do nothing but remind him of those times, of those days when he wore them with pride.
There were the nights when Jansen and his wife, Beth, were going out. She would say to him with a smile, “Wear the ring.” Jansen would put on his 2006 Colts Super Bowl ring. It was always a great conversation starter, Jansen said, a big clunky symbol on his finger of what he represented — Colts nation.
In the early years, people would see the ring and ask Jansen if he was a player. Then, as time passed, they would ask if he used to be a player and then, as more years passed, they would ask if he was a coach. No, none of those, Jansen would tell them. But he was the guy fans heard in the stadium with his deep, booming voice and his signature call, “Colts fans, it is thirddddddd down.”
“Often times, I felt like an ambassador for the Colts,” Jansen said. “It was awesome.”
But in September, the Colts decided to part ways with Jansen. And those rings, he said, didn’t feel like symbols of victory anymore, but symbols of loss.
‘I no longer have those feelings of pride with my rings’
The end of Jansen’s illustrious career, one in which he never missed one minute, one hour, one quarter, one half, one game of more than 200 contests in 24 seasons, began the week of Aug. 15.
Jansen always made sure he was at the stadium three hours before kickoff. He made sure he did “liquid management” so he never needed a restroom break. He made sure, he thought, he was the Colts’ irreplaceable announcer.
Jansen was embarking on his 25th season as the Colts’ public address announcer in August but was on the tail end of a sinus infection and had a lingering rattle in his voice. When Jansen got to Lucas Oil for the Lions’ preseason game Aug. 20, the raspy trill was still there. Jansen said he wasn’t overly concerned.
“I had a similar rattle at one time or another in my 24 seasons and got through a game fine,” Jansen said. ”I had no idea my voice would give out in the second quarter.”
But his voice did give out, and Stankevitz was brought in as a second half replacement. Jansen stayed with Stankevitz, coaching him on calls and proper phrasing for the final two quarters.
It would be the last time Jansen was in the booth at Lucas Oil Stadium.
His firing Sept. 6 was brief, Jansen said. “Pete (Ward) said they want to make a change and it is what they want and he has to go with it,” Jansen said. “He thanked me for my time with the Colts and the phone call ended.”
And so ended Jansen’s love of the Colts.
“Since my departure with the Colts was so abrupt and really not for a good reason,” Jansen said, “I no longer have those feelings of pride with my rings.”
But what should he do with them, Jansen asked himself. Then he remembered that former Colts linebacker Gary Brackett had put his Super Bowl ring, AFC Championship ring and other memorabilia up for auction earlier this year with Ripley.
Jansen decided, after peeling the Colts decal off the back of his SUV, he would rid himself of other more valuable Colts memorabilia.
“Many people have tried to talk me out of it, saying, ‘No, don’t do it,’ or, ‘Wait for a year,'” Jansen said. “I appreciate their thoughts but my mind is made up.”
Jansen’s rings will be auctioned Feb. 4, the week before the Super Bowl. Jansen is going to give a portion of the proceeds from the sale to Bishop Chatard’s football program.
“Hopefully a diehard Colts fan,” Jansen said, “can find the value in the rings that I lost.”
Follow IndyStar sports reporter Dana Benbow on Twitter: @DanaBenbow. Reach her via email: [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Super Bowl ring: Fired Colts stadium announcer Mike Jansen auctioning ring