Corporations have the worst type of bad reputation: the boring kind. They get accused of the same crimes as the drug dealers and mob bosses in our favorite movies, but their tactics are dry and methodical. When you get to the level of Fortune 500 corporations with recognizable name brands, we tend to assume that everything has been thoroughly vetted by legal, and subsequently wiped for prints just to be safe. There's just too much money at stake to risk getting sued for some minor misstep.
Except some of our most recognizable corporations are sitting on more machine gunnings and convoluted criminal conspiracies than you can throw at the last 30 minutes of a Die Hard movie. It turns out that owning a fantastic assortment of golf shirts doesn't preclude you from committing the sort of crimes that even the cool table in the prison cafeteria has to admit are pretty ballsy.
5An NFL Team Is Smuggled Across State Borders Like a Shipment of Cocaine
Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
In 1984, Baltimore Colts owner Robert Irsay was considering the unthinkable: voluntarily moving to Indianapolis. For years, Baltimore had refused to build a new stadium, and Indianapolis had pre-emptively built an entire freaking dome in the hopes of attracting an NFL team that wasn't turned off by the stench of desperation. Add in a growing economy and one of the nation's largest populations of bored white people, and the move seemed like a can't-miss business proposition. But it was still Indianapolis, so Irsay decided to field offers from other, warmer, less Indianapol-ish cities, such as Phoenix.
Like an inattentive boyfriend who finds himself on the verge of being dumped, Baltimore saw Irsay making eyes across state lines and promised to think about changing for him. When that didn't work, the city promptly switched into "you can't leave me, bitch, I won't let you" mode.
Foreshadowing the grit and shameless corruption that would one day make The Wire politicians like Clay Davis such compelling TV characters, the Maryland state legislature and the city of Baltimore decided to take control of the Colts by force, using an obscure law called eminent domain (which roughly translates to "Finders keepers, but we're the government so you can't laugh at us for saying that"). As the state legislature prepared to transfer ownership of the Colts to the city, Irsay could only call a press conference to futilely exclaim, "It's my damn team." And then he remembered who the rich white guy was around here and put a plan into action that the con men from The Sting would call "a little much."
NFL Photos / Getty Images / Stringer
It's amazing he had time for any scheming, what with the daily airbrushing sessions.
First he called Phoenix and told them they could have the Colts if they agreed to his terms immediately because he was planning to move his entire company out of Baltimore that night. Phoenix withdrew from consideration, presumably under the rationale that they didn't make split-second decisions like that, as they weren't cocaine dealers. Indianapolis might have had similar reservations had they not been so focused on not shooting in their pants when they heard Irsay's voice on the other end of the phone.
It was a good thing Indianapolis was so eager, because it turned out Irsay hadn't totally thought through the various contingencies of smuggling an entire NFL team hundreds of miles in a single night. That's when Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut called his friend, the wealthily named John B. Smith, the head of Mayflower moving company. Mayflower moving trucks up and down the East Coast were suddenly converging on the Baltimore Colts practice facility. Within a matter of hours, the movers were quietly making an entire NFL franchise disappear. The drivers of the 15 trucks were given different routes to the state border so the cops couldn't stop them all.
Lloyd Pearson/Baltimore Sun
Two decoy trucks were filled with rabid jackals, just to keep the Highway Patrol on their toes.
The next morning, every physical piece of the Colts franchise was in the state of Indiana, the Indianapolis Star had a photo of Irsay and Hudnut cheering, while the Baltimore Sun had Baltimore mayor William Schaefer weeping. Fortunately, the city of Baltimore would eventually go on to get a Super Bowl-winning franchise, and no one ever committed a crime in their city ever again.