Six time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro Center Jeff Saturday announced his retirement Friday, and everyone in Indianapolis should be giving him a standing ovation for everything he did for both the Colts, and the NFL in general.
Jeff Saturday was always a guy that worked tirelessly in the background, never asking for the spotlight, and always did his job without calling attention to himself. It makes perfect sense, then, that he announced his retirement from the NFL on the Grady and Big Joe show, heard locally here in Indianapolis on 1070 The Fan.
Jeff Saturday earlier: "That's it...we'll finish it with sunsets in Hawaii and call it a much better career than I would have anticipated."— Michael Grady (@mg_indy) January 25, 2013
You can listen to the audio of the interview here.
Saturday will be best known league-wide for all his work in the labor dispute that occurred in the 2011 Offseason. He was the key negotiator for the Player's Associated, and without Saturday, it really is unclear whether a season would have been played last season without him. The iconic picture came with him and Patriots Owner Bob Kraft hugging at the press conference after they announced we'd be getting back to football.
Saturday was undrafted coming out of North Carolina in 1998, and while the Ravens had the first shot at him, but was cut before Training Camp even started. He didn't have a home during the '98 season, and signed with the Colts right after the 1998 season in January of '99. He only played in 11 games in his first season in Indianapolis, starting twice at Left Guard, but he impressed the Colts so much that me moved returning Center Larry Moore to Right Guard, and then started 185 of the next 191 games through the 2011 season with the Colts, a good portion of that time as the best Center in the NFL.
He was named to six Pro Bowls, and was named a First Team All-Pro twice, in 2005 and 2007. His most memorable game is easily the 2006/07 AFC Championship game, where he had two career-defining moments. The first one was made by his alter ego "Jeff Friday", recovering a Dominic Rhodes fumble in the end zone to tie the game at 28 early in the 4th quarter. That's the play everyone remembers, but was not his best play of that game, and it wasn't even close. We all know that Joseph Addai goes untouched into the end zone to score the winning touchdown, but he got in so easily thanks to the greatest block in Indianapolis Colts history by Jeff Saturday on Vince Wilfork. He demolished him, clearly a two-lane highway for Addai to run through. I rarely watch Addai on that play any more. I only watch Saturday.
Saturday spent 2012 in Green Bay, and despite his Pro Bowl selection this year, was benched after Week 14. Football is a rough sport, and when your body gives out, even when it did it at such a high level for so many years, it's better to step aside and let somebody else play. Acme Packing Company, SB Nation's Packers blog, had some really nice things to say about Saturday as well.
While Saturday was unsure what his future will be, whether it would be television, coaching, a front office job, or just relaxing at home with his family, we all wish Jeff and his family the best in his retirement. It's a given he'll be inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor, and a bust in Canton is certainly a possibility too.