As he walked off the field following Sunday's 17-10 victory over the Houston Texans, Reggie Wayne stood all alone in Indianapolis Colts history. No Colt has ever played in more regular season games than the wide receiver (209) and no Colt has ever been a part of more wins than Reggie Wayne (142). Nobody else has done it. Not Marvin Harrison. Not Jeff Saturday. Not Johnny Unitas. Not even Peyton Manning, who previously held both records. No, this evening, Reggie Wayne stands all alone.
He's a man who seems to know he's close to being done. Could today have been the final regular season home game for Wayne? Is this the last season in a Hall of Fame worthy career? Those questions are for later. Those questions, Wayne said, are for after the season, when he makes the sixteen-hour drive home to Florida. That's the time for reflection and decisions about his future. Now is the time to enjoy the AFC South championship, which the Colts clinched today. It's the ninth division title that Reggie Wayne has been a part of in his fourteen seasons with the Colts, but he's not one to just brush it off. It means something to even the player with the most wins in Colts' history.
It wasn't the best day of Wayne's career, but it was a significant one. Wayne caught four passes for 24 yards on five targets, and unlike last week he didn't have a drop. All week long, Colts fans maintained that the team should "rest" Reggie (trying to nicely say to bench him) because he couldn't catch and was hurting the team. Colts fans looked at the worst game of Wayne's illustrious career, in which he dropped three passes, and though that was who Wayne was. Today? Zero dropped passes. He had a fumble, but it's a rare occurrence for Reggie and ended up not hurting the team, as they got the ball right back. It wasn't a great game by Reggie's standards, but he came right back after Colts fans were criticizing him for not being able to catch and didn't drop a pass, catching four. And that's been the story of his career with the Colts.
When former general manager Bill Polian selected Reggie Wayne with the team's first round pick in 2001, the selection was met with doubts and criticisms from a fan base that wanted help on the defensive side of the football. When Marvin Harrison was injured and shortly after quietly retired from the NFL, some fans wondered whether Reggie Wayne would be able to take over as the team's number one wide receiver. When it appeared as if Wayne would leave in free agency, joining the mass exodus of longtime Colts following the 2011 season. When Wayne tore his ACL last year. And to a smaller degree, to the criticisms this week. Ultimately, Reggie Wayne has spent his entire career facing questions.
But now, there is no question about it: Reggie Wayne stands all alone in Colts history. Appearing in his 209th regular season game today, Wayne set a new franchise mark. As the starting offense was announced at Lucas Oil Stadium, Wayne went last and received the loudest ovation. The "Reggie!" chants could be heard, serenading Wayne with the adoration of many Colts fans who list the receiver among their all-time favorite players. The Colts won the coin toss and elected to receive. And as the offense jogged onto the field, Reggie officially became the only player in the history of the Colts franchise to play in 209 games.
It's not a milestone to be taken lightly. It's a testament to his consistency, his longevity, and his great play. But that wasn't the only mark that Wayne reached today. As the Colts held on to win the game over the Texans 17-10, the team notched win number 142 with Reggie Wayne playing - one more than Peyton Manning had with the franchise. Wayne has been a part of just two seasons in which the Colts did not reach double-digit wins - his rookie season (2001) and then the 2011 season that became the bridge between two eras. The one huge link to those two eras? Reggie Wayne, who was a major part of both Peyton Manning's and Andrew Luck's offenses. But 12 double-digit win seasons in 14 years in the league? That's incredible. And that leads to Reggie Wayne now having been a part of more wins than any Colt ever.
Number 87 is nearing the end of his playing career. There's much more than just football to Reggie Wayne, and he's beginning to think about life after football. Maybe this will be his last year. Maybe he'll come back for another year or two. Right now it's too early to tell. Right now isn't the time for that discussion, either. Now is the time to reflect on a huge milestone for one of the all-time great Colts. Reggie Wayne now has played in more games and been a part of more wins than any player in the long history of the Colts franchise. His is a career that should end up in Canton one day, but in reality it's a career that will always be about Indianapolis. He's a Colt for life, and he'll go down as one of the greatest Colts to ever play the game.
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