Indianapolis’s greatest center, Jeff Saturday, got to retire as a Colt after playing one year with the Green Bay Packers. Colt’s longtime center and a key figure in the settlement to the 2011 NFL lockout retired with the team that brought him into the league 14 years ago.
”This does not happen for many players, especially many offensive linemen,” Saturday said. ”I’m excited to retire as a Colt. I mean, this is my home. This is what we’ve supported for so many years. I was known, no matter what team I was playing for, as a Colt. So it’s good to put that horseshoe on and go out that way.”
Jeff Saturday will forever be known as the voice of reason during the lockout negotiations. Saturday lobbied on behalf of the players he constantly urged both sides to remember that they would be better off reaching a settlement rather than losing the ”golden goose.” Saturday also acknowledged his appreciation for Colts football and the role it played in the reaching a compromise.
”This organization is what I hope all the NFL teams strive to be. In every negotiation I was involved with the PA (players association) and the NFL, I used us (the Colts) as an example of what you should strive to and I make no bones about it,” he said. ”This organization is the best in the business and it will continue.”
During Saturday’s retirement speech he choked up only once and that was when he thanked his wife, Karen, for allowing him to pursue a football career. He then turned toward reporters and explained he couldn’t look at his wife because he would ”lose it.” Saturday also thanked his three children, seated behind him in No. 63 jerseys, Irsay, his head coaches and position coaches, ex-teammates and even the equipment managers and trainers, some of whom watched from the back of the room.
With Indy, Saturday won two AFC titles, one Super Bowl ring, became a pillar in the community and made 170 starts with Manning behind him, an NFL record for a quarterback-center tandem. Jeff Saturday also ends his career with 6 Pro-Bowl appearances and even NFL Alumni Offensive Player of the Year.
”The relationship between a center and a quarterback is special. We loved each other but we could fight each other as well. We could bump heads and there was always a mutual respect,” Saturday said. ”It never got any further than that. It was always on the field. Off the field, we were friends. He’s taken me to places and given me gifts and allowed me to do things that I would never have the opportunity to do.”