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Colts fan Rick Stevens, also known as "Colts Caveman," attends a game with his wife Joanie. (Photo courtesy of Rick Stevens)
Colts fan Rick Stevens, also known as "Colts Caveman," attends a game with his wife Joanie. (Photo courtesy of Rick Stevens)

'People can and do change': 'Colts Caveman' Rick Stevens hopes his story inspires others

The Colts superfan has come a long way, '15 minutes at a time'

Rick Stevens is similar to other Indianapolis Colts fans in many respects. A win breeds excitement and starts his week off on the right foot, while a loss creates the inverse, often leading to questioning the team's gameday decisions on Twitter.

As a season ticket holder, he attends all the team’s home games in Lucas Oil Stadium and catches most away games at his home in Southport. The separation piece between Rick and most other fans is what can only be described as an obsession. Most Colts fans may be surrounded by pieces of memorabilia while sporting their favorite player's jersey on gameday, Rick is surrounded by more.

He refers to the basement of his home as the “Colts Cave” which is fitting for Rick’s alter ego: the “Colts Caveman”. The walls, once orange, are now coated in a Colts-inspired shade of blue. The walls and ceiling are covered in well over 1,000 pieces of memorabilia, many of which have been gifted to him. 

The ceiling is lined with posters of Colts players, signed pictures of cheerleaders, hanging championship banners and his collection of football cards he's collected since he was a child. The walls are engulfed with jerseys, many signed, with three devoted to Eric Dickerson — his favorite player and the reason for Colts fandom. Ninety-six jerseys cover the vanilla-smelling room, either in display cases or thrown in the closet, with 64 representing the Colts and another 31 for each other NFL team.

This is where Rick finds his escape, the place he can be who he truly is. The place that is not just a separation from the rest of his home, but a separation from the stresses of life. 

The “Colts Cave” is just a small part of Rick’s fandom for the Indianapolis Colts. At the beginning of the season, Rick started his campaign for the Colts Fan of the Year award and he hopes his journey can serve two different purposes. 

Winning the Fan of the Year award would be a dream come true for Rick, but he hopes it can also serve as a reminder for other fans that redemption is always a possibility. Throughout his life, Rick has struggled with many bouts of adversity including alcoholism and the loss of his left hand, and believes that winning the award will be the ultimate show of what a second chance can do for someone.

He's seen some of his friends win the award, his dream, and he has now begun the journey of etching his name into history as the Colts Fan of the Year.

“I want to be that guy,” Rick said.


Rick Stevens grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey, the same hometown as Chuck Wepner, the real-life inspiration for the “Rocky” film franchise, who has been a strong motivator throughout Rick’s life. Through the extremely cold winters and comfortable summers of Bayonne, this is where the love for sports began. Street football, wiffle ball and stickball were all avenues to pass time in the late 1960s, in addition to summer afternoon games at Shea Stadium watching Bud Harrelson dominate the infield and help the New York Mets win the 1969 World Series.

At age nine, Rick and his family moved into the quiet Indianapolis suburb of Southport where he immediately immersed himself in the athletics community playing for the Southport Little League. Into high school, he played quarterback for the football team and was a star on the golf team.

His time after high school was spent in Flint, Michigan, where he found himself on semi-pro football and baseball teams in addition to being a scratch golfer.

“The offense was pretty much me getting the ball and then getting killed,” Rick said. “My offensive line was not good. I had to throw within two seconds or else I was buried.”

In his short stint in the Army Rick won two First Calvary golf championships and even upon returning home at least two of his days each week were consumed on the links.

His love for football started back in Bayonne on late Sunday afternoons when his cousin Bobby, someone he greatly looked up to, would roar his support for the Los Angeles Rams. Players such as Merlin Olson and Jack Youngblood enamored Rick, even after his move to Southport. Following a disappointing 1982 season, the Rams selected running back Eric Dickerson with the second overall pick in the 1983 draft.

At 23 years old, Rick had found the football icon that would determine his fandom for years to come.

On Halloween night in 1987, a young and hungry GM by the name of Jim Irsay decided it was time to ramp up the Indianapolis Colts ground game and sent five draft picks and two players to the Rams in exchange for Dickerson’s talents.

“That’s it, I’m a Colts fan,” Rick said.

The obsession was born.

The word obsession fails to do justice to the fan that Rick is. Hats, footballs, football cards, pictures, cozies, banners, clothing, bobbleheads, stockings, a fireplace, two televisions, a covered window and even an anvil fill the “Colts Cave” to the brim. It’s seemingly impossible to find a speck of the blue wall not covered. It’s described by his wife Joanie — or as Rick calls her, “the boss of me” — as “sensory overload.” Toward the top of the list of his proudest points of the house sits in the toilet bowl of the “Quarterback Room”: The AFC South division rival Tennessee Titans’ logo.

“It used to be the Patriot, but it was time to move on,” Rick said.

During the week, he will escape to the Cave with Elmo (his 10-month-old pit bull named after his wife Joanie's favorite restaurant, St. Elmo's), Arthur the Corgi and Goliath the Shih Tzu to catch up on TV or test his GM skills in Madden franchise mode.

This is where Rick fantasizes, no, where he dreams, of representing the Indianapolis Colts as the 2023 Fan of the Year. He threw his name into the hat last year after his good friend, Elias Otero, better known as “Luchablue”, won in 2021.

“Everybody had me convinced I was going to win…and it was somebody that nobody had ever freaking heard of, um, and I was crushed,” Rick said.

The pain in his voice could be felt in those pauses, while not trying to show the emotional effects of not winning, he painted an even larger picture of his undying and unwavering support of the Colts and their organization.

He was asked by a friend if he believed the award winner was pre-determined.

“I did last year…I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but if I don’t win, I’m going to handle it a little better than I did last year,” Rick said.


The process of representing the Colts as their NFL Fan of the Year begins with the registration process where the nominee sends in their answers to three essay questions as well as a video showcasing their fandom. Once the two-month voting stage ends, the club supplies a panel of judges who award a set of points based on three categories.

  • Community Service (33%)
  • Fandom/“Original Spice” (33%)
  • Inspirational Story (33%)

Rick has committed plenty of his time to being a servant leader in the community. Versiti Blood Center, an organization he donates blood to between five and six times a year, uses his photo for their blood drive flyers. He also attends every “Bleed Blue Blood Drive” that the Colts host, an event he will stay at for many hours following his donation to take pictures and meet with other fans. 

Rick Stevens and his wife Joanie attend the Indianapolis Colts' Kicking the Stigma event. (Photo courtesy of Rick Stevens)

In August, Rick hosted his own blood drive in which he was able to get kNot Today, a foundation attempting to eradicate child solicitation, to co-sponsor. He reached out to Kicking the Stigma, the Colts' mental health foundation for support, but never got a response.

Mental health support is a cause that is close to Rick’s heart as he has struggled with mental health issues throughout his life.

Spending most of his young adult years working in various bars, alcohol became a dependency. What started as playing pop-a-shot and watching Monday Night Football in the Safari Bar in Castleton with his friends Jeff George, former Colts quarterback, and Indiana Pacer Vern Fleming, became an addition.

While consuming, on average, 28 beers a day, he recalled a friend telling him he didn’t believe he had ever seen Rick drunk.

“You’ve never seen me sober,” Rick replied.

It wasn’t until waking up on his son’s 11th birthday that he decided that was enough. Rick expressed that he was “sick and tired of being sick and tired” which led him to quit drinking.

The phrase “one day at a time” never made sense to Rick. He saw it more as a “15 minutes at a time” battle.

“I didn’t do anything without a beer, man,” Rick said. “Any meal I had was with a beer, playing golf was with a beer, or just sitting around the house was with a beer.”

On top of his recovery from alcoholism, Rick suffered a tragic accident while working in a plastic mill in 2011. When Rick was working as a supervisor, one of the plastic mills had a malfunction and he insisted on being the man to fix it. It was a process he knew wasn’t safe. The 650-degree mill began churning with his left hand still in the machine, permanently frying the hand to the point of amputation. He remembers the chaos seconds after the accident as clearly now as he did when it occurred.

“I knew I was going to lose my hand, but something kept going through my mind that I was going to be OK,” Rick said. “But I don’t regret my decision. I think it happened to me so that it wouldn’t happen to someone else.”

The incident occurred on a Tuesday, his hand was amputated on a Wednesday, and he returned home on a Thursday. Upon arriving back home, his purpose was to make everyone else comfortable with the situation because he had already come to peace with it. He still had responsibilities as a son, husband and father, so he thought what better way to help others process the event than to throw a football in the front yard with his son.

“I needed my son to know that just because I was missing a hand it doesn’t make me a different person,” Rick said.


Rick and Joanie met online on Yahoo! Personals and had their first date at The Willard restaurant in Franklin. Rick had originally asked her to join him at the Indy 500, but Joanie was not receptive to the idea of meeting him until six months after they had started chatting online. Eight months following the amputation of his hand, Rick and Joanie were married.

The couple now does everything together. They are Indiana Fever, Indianapolis Indians and Indianapolis Colts season ticket holders as well as frequent Indy 500 attendees and concertgoers. They saw Luke Combs, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Journey and others in concert this past year.

The couple always attends Touchdown Town, located just blocks away from Lucas Oil Stadium, before each home game.

“He always just goes off with Michael Hopson, known as Superfan Colts, and Luchablue and they just go do their photo-ops,” Joanie said.

Rick has detailed outfits for all home games and any road games they attend. He will sport a blue Colts jersey at home, last year wearing his No. 91 Yannick Ngakoue for every game after Ngakoue showed up unannounced at Rick and Joanie’s Colts nation cookout last summer, an event that raised over $1,200 for kNot Today and Kicking the Stigma. The jersey is accompanied by a Colts visor cap covering his blue wig, white fur-covered leg warmers and an occasional Colts blanket covering the rest of his body.

Away games are spent in a much different way.

Rick and Joanie will be seated together in the Cave joined by Elmo, sporting his custom-made “Indy St. Elmo” Colt’s jersey, as well as occasional visits from Arthur and Goliath.

Colts fan Rick Stevens' dog Elmo wears his custom jersey on a Colts gameday. (Photo courtesy of Rick Stevens)

Week 10 was different, however, for both Rick and for the Colts. Rick and Joanie attended a Colts watch at The Rathskeller restaurant in Indianapolis as the Colts defeated the Patriots 10-6 in Germany. 

This was also Rick’s first time watching the team since learning he had not won the Fan of the Year award.

He said he received a call from the Colts a day prior to the announcement that he would have won but did not pass the necessary background check for a crime he committed over 20 years ago. He declined to go into detail about the crime, and said he isn’t eligible for the award in the future.

“Absolutely,” Rick said in response to whether he would continue the Colts Caveman persona. “The Colts called me yesterday to let me know the details. Thanked me for everything I do.”

It was a painful week for Rick in more ways than one. The call from the Colts was a kind gesture as he described it but failed to shelter him from any of the pain. It crushed him — months of his life spent recording videos, doing promotions, and building up a strong community of voters had been for nothing. On top of this, Goliath, his 15-year-old Shih Tzu, his oldest dog, his best friend as Rick thought of him, passed away while Rick was at work. This was apropos of Rick’s life which has seen consistent bouts of adversity, but he continues to push on.

The journey to be the Colts’ Fan of the Year was never about the award, he said. It would have been a “relief with the promise to serve my year with integrity” had he won, but more importantly an acknowledgment of Rick’s redemption story, of all the adversity he had faced in his life and the scratching and clawing that was needed to overcome it — 15 minutes at a time.

“I wanted validation and to let others know that people can and do change,” Rick said.


Several months back, Rick and Joanie sat together in the Colt's Cave as Rick admired his work.

“What are you thinking about?” Joanie asked.

“I think I’m done,” Rick said. “I finally have it where I want it.”

Joanie laughed, knowing her husband’s love for the Colts, his borderline obsession, and his devotion to making his Colts fandom meaningful and worth something bigger than football and himself.

“No, you’re not,” she said.

This now rings true for Rick Stevens more than he ever could’ve imagined.

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