Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

March 7, 2013

NFL: Saturday retires as a Colt

Center played 13 seasons in Indianapolis before finishing in Green Bay

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis gave Jeff Saturday a chance to fulfill his NFL dream.

On Thursday, he came back to thank the town and the team that embraced his improbable journey from undrafted free agent to NFL star.

Moments after signing his final contract with the Colts, Indy’s longtime center and a key figure in forging a settlement to the 2011 NFL lockout officially 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.”

Colts fans will always remember Saturday for his gritty play and down-to-earth attitude. Nationally, he will forever be known as the voice of reason during the contentious lockout negotiations. Saturday lobbied on behalf of the players he represented and constantly urged both sides to remember that they would be best served by reaching a settlement rather than losing the “golden goose.”

After the two sides agreed to a 10-year collective bargaining agreement, Saturday’s embrace of Patriots owner Robert Kraft became an endearing image of labor peace. Kraft had just finished speaking about his wife, Myra, who died during the negotiations, when Saturday put aside Indy’s bitter rivalry with New England, hugged Kraft and then credited him for “saving football.”

On Thursday, Saturday also acknowledged his appreciation for Colts football also played a big role in 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.”

Before playing in his sixth and final Pro Bowl last month, Saturday had already said he was retiring. He even made a cameo appearance with the AFC so he could snap the ball one more time to his close friend, former Colt and current Bronco Peyton Manning. Green Bay cut Saturday last month, a procedural move that made Thursday’s festivities possible.

Ironically, though, the move came exactly one year to the day after team owner Jim Irsay and Manning, the four-time MVP, appeared in the same room to announce Manning’s release. Both men spoke then in halting tones as they fought back tears.

This time, it was more celebratory. Saturday and Irsay smiled and even joked about the formality of the one-day deal.

“I’m going to sign this contract and let Jeff come up and sign his portion so we can make it official that Jeff is a Colt today, and this is not costing me anything,” Irsay said, drawing laughter. “And that’s rare, but Jeff did ask for a new pickup truck so I told him I would consider that. “

When Saturday stepped to the podium, he responded in kind.

“Like he said, it cost him a lot more the last time than it did this time,” Saturday said.

The only time Saturday choked up 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.” She wiped her eyes, too.

Saturday also thanked his three children, seated behind him in blue 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.

His improbable journey actually started in Baltimore in 1998. The Ravens signed him as an undrafted rookie but cut him before training camp opened.

One year later, the Colts took a low-risk gamble on someone who had spent the previous year selling electrical supplies in North Carolina and he wound up making the roster. By 2000, he had won the starting center’s job, which he kept until leaving for Green Bay as a free agent last year.

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.

“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.”

Asked for his favorite football moment, Saturday didn’t offer up the Super Bowl win.

“The AFC Championship game trumps them all for me,” he said, referring to the Colts’ second-half comeback against the Patriots in the 2006 playoffs. “Getting to recover a fumble for a touchdown, getting to slay the Patriots, all those things. That’s the one for me, even above the Super Bowl.”

Saturday said he will continue to make Indy his home and Irsay said Saturday will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor. Irsay also has hired Saturday to work in the Colts’ community relations and marketing department and said there could be a future for Saturday on the coaching staff or in the front office.

“Here’s a man who came into the league, no one thought he was going to do much,” Irsay said. “He wasn’t a first-round draft pick and is an individual who literally took this town and this state over with his integrity, with his love for the community, with this performance on the field, just an absolutely incredible individual. Going through the lockout, how he played a huge role in getting that settled. It was just absolutely incredible how Jeff has made his mark in this league and for this franchise.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • GN140418 bulls playoff push NBA: Bulls ready to start playoff push against Wizards CHICAGO -- Lose a franchise player, trade away another star. Snag home-court advantage for at least one round in the playoffs? It's not the way the Chicago Bulls mapped it out at the start of the season. But here they are, holding the fourth seed and

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140418 ghs wawa nr btrk 01 PREP BOYS TRACK AND FIELD: Warriors triumph GOSHEN -- The Wawasee Warriors showcased a couple of very talented athletes in an NLC meet with the Goshen Redskins and the Northridge Raiders Thursday night at Foreman Field. Juniors Clayton Cook and JJ Gilmer were involved in six first places finis

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140418 bglf goshen hartsough PREP BOYS GOLF: Goshen easily downs Central in 2014 opener ELKHART -- Sometimes, the third time really is the charm. After the first two scheduled meets of the season were postponed due to inclement weather earlier this week, the Goshen High School boys golf team was finally able to start the 2014 season Th

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

    The Masters lumbered on last week without two of pro golf's biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and fans changed the channel. The PGA needs someone with star power if it's going to lure people back to the game.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • TGN Sports Roundtable, Ep. 26

    April 17, 2014

  • Pacers Magic Basketball -3 [Duplicate] NBA: Pacers rest 3 starters, cruise past Magic ORLANDO, Fla. -- Rasual Butler and Chris Copeland each scored 19 points as the Indiana Pacers rested their key players and cruised to a 101-86 victory over the Orlando Magic in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Eastern Conference's top se

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140417 soft ghs jim 11 Hot start by Jimtown dooms Goshen, 12-7 GOSHEN -- The Jimtown Jimmies had one of those starts that about all Goshen High School baseball coach Josh Keister could do was shrug his shoulders. Jimtown scored six runs in the top of the first inning with only two of their six hits leaving the i

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140417 soft ghs ec 03 PREP SOFTBALL: Goshen struggling GOSHEN -- For the first four innings of Wednesday's nonconference softball contest, things were looking pretty good for the Goshen Redskins. On a chilly, windy spring day at Shanklin Park, Goshen led Elkhart Central, 2-0 heading into the top of the f

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hammons says he'll stay at Purdue

    A.J. Hammons says he'll return for another season with Purdue

    April 16, 2014

  • GN140416 gc baseball practice COLLEGE BASEBALL: Leaf nine battle injuries, seek consistency GOSHEN -- The 2014 season so far has been one of struggles for the Goshen College baseball team. With a few weeks left in the season, the Maple Leafs are 6-28. Goshen snapped an eight-game losing streak last Sunday with an 18-14 win at home over Wr

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Poll

Goshen City Council member Dixie Robinson is asking residents to make an effort to clean up their yards this spring. The city’s Dial-A-Truck program is available to haul trash away. Do you think there are more unsightly properties in Goshen this year than five years ago?

Yes, I have noticed more problem properties
No, I have not noticed more problems
I think the problems are about the same as always
     View Results