Colts GM Chris Ballard has regularly stated that his philosophy is that you build teams through the draft. That makes this time of year critical to the Colts’ long term success. So in the lead up to this year’s draft, I wanted to do something to honor some of the meaningful draft picks that the Colts have made in their time in Indianapolis. These players have helped to tell the story of the Colts franchise we love. Every day leading up to the draft, we’ll drop a story about a different player from Indianapolis Colts draft history.
Today we’re talking about Colts legend Reggie Wayne. Few Colts are as beloved as Reggie, or have made their mark so strongly upon two different eras of Colts football. Selected 30th overall in the 2001 draft, Reggie Wayne played all 14 of his NFL seasons as a Colt*, and finished behind only Marvin Harrison in receiving yards for the franchise.
The combo of Marvin and Reggie was deadly pretty quickly. In his first season, Reggie struggled to be a major impact, but doubled his production in year two and topped 1,000 yards every season from 2004 to 2010. With Manning under center, Reggie stepped easily into a huge role as a support for Marvin Harrison and then into the top spot when Harrison retired in 2009.
He was named to 6 Pro Bowls, 3 All-Pro teams, and his 53-yard touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLI helped settle a Colts team that had given up a kickoff return for a touchdown and seen Manning throw a pick. It is not a stretch to say that without Wayne’s contributions, the Colts don’t have a Super Bowl win.
Perhaps the best thing about Wayne is that he acted as a veteran bridge between two rosters. When the Colts made their fateful decision to move on from Peyton Manning and start the Andrew Luck Era, Wayne was one of the few veteran holdovers. He held down the role as the top guy at the receiver position, and put up one of his best seasons, while mentoring a young and talented rookie in T.Y. Hilton.
While Luck rightly gets a lot of credit for carrying a poor roster, Wayne’s leadership and relationship with coach Chuck Pagano was a major factor in taking a team that had gone 2-14 the prior year and getting them to 11-5 and a playoff berth. After that first season, he slid into a very effective number two role as Robin to Hilton’s Batman, and kept the team rolling until 2014.
In his time with Indy, Wayne brought a bit more swagger to the wide receiver position, but never came across as a diva. He was notable for his wild training camp arrivals, some of which included driving up in a dump truck, arriving in full fatigues in a military Humvee, showing up in a helicopter, and even in an IndyCar.
If you were to put a fan list together of all-time favorite Colts players, there is no doubt that Reggie would be in serious contention for the top spot.
What’s your best Reggie story?
*Wayne technically signed with the Patriots, but when he arrived at Patriot Place, he reacted like Superman exposed to Kryptonite and promptly asked for his release before retiring.