End of an Era May be Coming

Reggie Wayne has spent his entire 11-year career inIndianapolis.  He hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year, 2001, when he was drafted in the first round.  He has made the pro bowl 5 times, each of the last 5 years.  He has caught 846 yards, 11,529 yards, and 72 touchdowns, averaging 13.6 yards per catch.  Reggie was a big part in the Colts super bowl win, catching Peyton Manning’s lone touchdown pass of Super Bowl XLI, a 53 yarder. Wayne has 6 straight years of catching 1,000-plus yards, although that streak is in serious jeopardy this year. 

 In an era of show offs, Wayne follows the footsteps of former teammate Marvin Harrison and lets his play do the talking.  

The fans love Wayne.  They frequently celebrate by chanting “Reggie!  Reggie!” 

Tonight may be the last time the fans in Indy serenade Wayne with that chant.  

“I am well aware of that and I’ve come to the conclusion that in every athlete’s career they are going to be faced with this decision at some point in time, whether it is a long career or a short career.” Wayne said.  Of the fans, he said, “I truly appreciate them.  They come out with the Reggie signs, and no matter what the situation is they are always there cheering and it could be a little tough. Everybody said it would be a little emotional for me.”

For all his success in Indy, Wayne is 33 years old.  The Colts will likely have a massive overhaul this offseason in an attempt to get younger.  No one is safe, not even Peyton Manning. Wayne’s contract is up after the season, and the Colts are unlikely to re-sign number 87.  

I have said all year that Reggie Wayne will not be in a Colts uniform next season.  The only way I see him returning is if Manning is kept and if he is adamant that Wayne returns.  But I still don’t see it happening.  Manning would very likely want center Jeff Saturday back first.  

Speaking of Saturday, tonight may be his last home game as a Colt as well.  His contract is up after the year, just like Reggie’s.  The only way I see Saturday (36 years old) returning is on a 1-year deal, either for Manning or to ease the transition to Luck. 

Saturday is a fan favorite and one of my favorite Colts ever.  Saturday is a great guy who is a great player, anchoring a Colts line that was at one time the best unit in the NFL.  In recent years, the line has fallen off greatly, but Saturday has been the one steady force in the middle of the line.  He has developed a great relationship both on and off the field with Manning.  

Saturday was also key to the NFL resolving their labor crisis in the offseason.  Saturday is the Colts NFLPA representative and also on the players’ executive committee.  

Saturday has made 5 pro bowls, making the game in 5 of the last 6 years (Saturday did not make it in 2008, when he struggled through injury).  Since 1999, he has been the Colts center.  And tonight may be his last home game as well. 

And then there are others.  Robert Mathis’ contract is up at the end of the year, although I expect him to be re-signed.  Peyton Manning’s situation is well-documented.  Although he is not playing tonight (sorry, NFL Network), Manning may very well walk into Lucas Oil Stadium on game day as a Colt for the last time.  The Colts have a huge decision to make on Manning, and I don’t know which way they will go.  So I will just say what is fact: tonight has a real chance to be Peyton’s last home game in Indy.  

And then there is Coach Jim Caldwell, his assistants, and the Polians.  Though Bill Polian wants Caldwell back, I’m not so sure that Polian will be back next year.  And if he goes, his son Chris goes.  Bill may just retire at the end of the year, in which case Chris will probably be fired.  But, Jim Irsay may choose to keep both, in which caseCaldwell probably stays too.  Yeah, I know, confusing stuff.  

Bottom line is that tonight may be the last time some of the guys who built the Colts play home in Indy.  It is a sad thought, but it very well may be true.  

Colts fans, we have enjoyed an incredible run of success.  Those Colts may be a thing of the past, however.  There is change in the air in Indianapolis.  And many of the older veterans who built the Colts into winners will be cast aside. 

Let’s give them a win.

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About Josh Wilson
Follow Josh on twitter @jwilsonWL, on Facebook at the Operation: Freedom page, or you can reach him by email at operation.freedom@yahoo.com.

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