By GEORGE BREMER
CNHI NEWS SERVICE
Nearly eight months ago, doctors told Matt Sercer he would never walk again.
On Saturday, the 20-year-old Plainfield farmer stepped off a helicopter on the intramural fields at Anderson University and met the media alongside Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne in one of the most memorable training camp entrances of recent times.
“Guys like Matt and stories like Matt, they’re the real heroes,” Wayne said, wearing an IU Health flight suit in front of the lifeline chopper he arrived in. “It inspires you to go out there and do great and prove people wrong. A lot of people didn’t think Matt would be able to walk again, and he’s out here moonwalking with me.”
While cleaning out an empty silage wagon in December, Sercer accidentally backed into an auger that tore off his right heel and nearly caused his leg to be amputated. He said he owes a great debt to the lifeline helicopter crew that carried him to help.
“I’d have been dead if it wasn’t for them,” Sercer said.
A friend brought Sercer’s story to Wayne’s attention, and tears pooled in Wayne’s eyes Saturday as he recounted it.
As a Louisiana native who has spent much of his adult life in south Florida, Wayne said he’s not familiar with farms. But he saw an important lesson for himself and his teammates in Sercer’s perseverance.
Last year, the Colts used a national power ranking that placed them last among the NFL’s 32 teams as motivation. This year, outside expectations for the team are higher.
But, as Wayne said, “there’s still not a lot of buzz” about Indianapolis.
“We got to prove people wrong, got to show them what we can do and show them what we made of,” he said.
“We got to bite down through hard times and find a way to prevail. Matt is truly an inspiration to that. I’m bringing him to camp with me to show everybody else what we can do.”
That’s not likely to be a hard sell.
Many of Wayne’s teammates reported to AU early Saturday morning. They promised a different look on offense, a more physical style on defense and a goal to become the best in the league.
“That’s the motivation every year,” offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo said. “At the end of the year, you want to say that we accomplished all of our goals, and the only way to do that is to win the Super Bowl.”
The path to New York City and Super Bowl XLVIII began Saturday with a closed walkthrough and a public practice.
The Colts will hold 15 open practices during camp, which ends Aug. 16.
This is the fourth straight summer in which Indianapolis has trained at Anderson University and the 19th time the school has hosted training camp overall. The Colts trained in Anderson from their arrival in Indiana in 1984 until 1998.
After 11 years in Terre Haute, the franchise returned to AU in 2010.
The team is celebrating its 30th season in Indiana this year, and Wayne believes it could be a very special year indeed.
In fact, that was part of the inspiration for his grand entrance.
“I really think our team this year is better than last year,” he said.
“If we don’t hurt ourselves, the sky’s the limit for us. I really sat back and thought, ‘sky’s the limit, sky’s the limit,’ why not come in through the sky?”