An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
The 14-year veteran center in the NFL put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — when Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
A six-time Pro Bowl selection (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012) and a two-time first-team All-Pro honoree (2005, 2007), the former North Carolina standout signed a one-day contract with the Colts. He then offered an emotional and heartfelt goodbye to old friends, former teammates and coaches and long-time team employees.
“Back in Blue! That’s a good thing to say. First I just want to thank everybody for coming out [for his goodbye press conference]. It does not go unnoticed. This [large of a turnout for a retirement announcement] does not happen for many players, especially many offensive linemen,” Saturday said Thursday afternoon.
“I’m truly grateful and humbled for this opportunity. When [team owner] Mr. [Jim] Irsay and I were talking about [retiring as a member of the franchise], it was something that meant a lot to me and meant a lot to him as well. 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.”
Playing in Indianapolis during the team’s recent glory run, which included a pair of Super Bowl appearances (2006, 2009), has meant a lot to the Tucker, Ga., native and his family.
“First, I just want to say thank you to Mr. Irsay and the Colts organization. I tell you, you could not ask for a more classy organization. You couldn’t ask for a man and an owner who gave more to my wife and I for the endeavors that we do in the community. He was always there, no matter on the field or off the field. That’s rare in this business that he is as interactive as he is with his players, not only giving them his money and his time but helping us with pavilions and places to set things up. That was truly one of the things I admired most about him,” Saturday said.
“Next are the fans and the community. The fans in Indianapolis are the greatest ever. I’ve had my share of going other places, I’ve played on the road a number of times, and there is not a better group of people to support a football team than the Colts fans. Every time I walked out onto that field I knew it was a blessing to be out in front of you. You supported us. You challenged us when we didn’t show up the way we should have. I’m very appreciative of all the support you’ve given us. The community here, you’re my wife and I’s heart.”
Being back in Indiana has meant a lot to the Saturday family. Even though he played with the Packers last season, his wife and children remained in Indianapolis. It’s home.
“That’s the reason we’re back in Indianapolis. We love living here. We love being a part of it. The people in this community, in this area, support each other and give to each other and we’re grateful to be a part of it. Hopefully we’ve given back some of what you’ve given to us because I could not feel more supported,” Saturday said.
“Even coming back from Green Bay, how many people sent me letters and emails and petitions about rejoining the Colts and all kinds of things that are just way above and beyond what people expect and what my expectations have been. Again I really appreciate all of what you’ve given us.”
Thoughts on his coaches in Indianapolis: “I’ve been very fortunate in my NFL career to have some fantastic coaches. The three head coaches I was under here with [Jim] Mora, [Tony] Dungy and [Jim] Caldwell were fantastic, Dungy and Caldwell especially as I got older in my career. Not just great coaches but great mentors for my life. The faith example they set for me, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to be taught. I truly respect those men. Those are some fantastic men above and beyond football and I’m very fortunate to have them.
“The [offensive] coordinator I played for most of my career, Tom Moore, and Clyde Christensen in my last year. I mean, wow, to have the offenses we had for so many years, these guys know what they’re doing. They were a blast to play for and I really enjoyed it. My offensive line coaches being Howard Mudd and Pete Metzelaars and Ron Prince my last years, they made me who I am.”
His personal Colts Hall of Fame: “These are the guys that I played with for the most of my time. I start Marvin Harrison, Tarik Glenn, Peyton Manning, Hunter Smith, Reggie Wayne, Justin Snow, Ryan Diem, Dwight Freeney, Raheem Brock, Dallas Clark, Robert Mathis, Bob Sanders, Ryan Lilja, Jim Sorgi. I mean I think of every one of those guys and I could tell you stories about each and every one of them. Those men had a tremendous impact on my life.”
His children (Jeffrey, Savannah, Joshua): “This is my perspective in life. When I come home every day, this is what I get, win or lose, playing bad, playing good, whatever the press is saying about me, they keep it real with their dad. They keep me the man that I am and they keep me so happy to come home. Part of the reason why I’m really excited about retiring is being able to spend more time with them. I love them and they’re a blast to be around.”
His wife Karen: “[She is] probably is the most selfless person I’ve ever been around. I appreciate [her] letting me live my dream because [she] did. All the tickets, all the organizations, all the things that she does for our family as I’m preparing to play this game. She made my life what it is and she’s so fantastic in the community. She’s so fantastic to her friends and the people she loves. She’s the most loyal person I’ve ever met. It’s just been an incredible marriage. I’ve been around long enough to know they don’t come around that often, a wife this great. She’s my bride, we have so much fun. We’ve got a lot to look forward to and I’m excited about that. She is my true companion and it’s very special to have her in my life and to be able to go through this experience.”
Playing with Peyton Manning: “I like to tell people I rode his coattails for a long time. He is an incredible teammate. He’s probably, not probably, one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever been around. In fact, my experience in Green Bay gave me even more insight to how special he is as a player, and as a teammate. I really enjoyed my time with him. We used to call him ‘coach Manning’ and used to bust him up about how hard he worked. He showed up early. He left late. He led by example. He never expected you to give anything that he wasn’t going to give himself. 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. It never got any further than that. It was always on the field. Off the field, we were friends.”
Favorite memory with the Colts: “The  AFC championship game trumps them all for me. Getting to recover a fumble for a touchdown, get to slay the Patriots, all those things, and the offensive line play in that game was probably the best we had played. We took that game over. So the five of us imposed our will on those guys. There are very few big games where you watch that happen and to be a part of that was super special. That’s the one for me, even above the Super Bowl. That’s the one for me.”
Thoughts on being away from Indianapolis for a year: “Going [to Green Bay], it made me realize what I had here for so long. I don’t think as a player when you’re in it, it really hits you or dons on you how great what we were involved with was. Like you said, being the No. 1 franchise over 10 years or whatever all those things were. Those are just kind of accolades you kind of move through when you’re playing because you are ready to move onto the next and keep going. To see it when you’re outside of it and see how other people viewed us and continue to view us is really special. I don’t think many players get that perspective.”
An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
- Sports Columns
RAMBLIN' RECK: Sunday promises to be big day in Indy
Sunday promises to be a super day in Indianapolis.
It’s the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 followed by Indiana vs. Miami in the third game of the National Basketball Association playoffs.
TRACKSIDE: Local drivers, owners looking to have strong night at Tony Hulman Classic
In its rich 43-year history, the Tony Hulman Sprint Car Classic has long carried on a strong local racing tradition.
From its early beginnings starting in 1971, the U.S. Auto Club-sanctioned event has been the annual centerpiece of the racing calendar at the Terre Haute Action Track as well as a key stop on the USAC sprint schedule and one of the most sought after wins in big league sprint-car racing.
Shooters compete to fight cancer
A team of employees at Taghleef, formally A.E.T, would like to give a personal invite for you to join in on a lot of fun while helping save lives.
Cindy and Mark Wilguess are the inspiration behind the Taghleef Team. Cindy herself fought this battle with cancer and won. Last year she led her team to be the No. 1 fundraisers in the Relay for Life.
TILL IT'S OVER: Terre Haute Triathlon's new race director seeks more events for his hometown
Today is the day for the Thunder in the Valley, and the Terre Haute Triathlon is under new leadership in 2013, the 28th year for the event at Hawthorn Park.
A former Terre Haute North track and cross country standout, Ethan Page is the race director as the race falls under the reign of Page’s new company, Crossroads Events.
TODD GOLDEN: Don't give up on ISU baseball just yet
If you had to pick one word that would describe the 2013 Indiana State baseball season, it would have to be frustration.
TRACKSIDE: Terre Haute's Carmichael enjoying strong spring in modifieds, stocks
It might have been cold and blustery at Charleston Speedway on Saturday night, but for Terre Haute driver Kenny Carmichael the evening couldn’t have been more pleasant.
From Terre Haute to the major leagues: Phegley's play could earn him promotion to Chicago
Josh Phegley's debut in the Major Leagues could be coming to a ballpark near you.
There's an expert at Parker's Archery
As I was driving the winding roadways of southern Indiana, a rustic building caught my attention and the sign on the front revealed it to be an archery shop called Parkers Archery.
TRACKSIDE: Rain still a pain for Wabash Valley racing organizers
Soggy weather conditions, which have rightfully drawn the ire of Wabash Valley race fans and crews in recent days, continue to plague promoters where it hurts the most — their pocketbooks.
RAMBLIN’ RECK: Pacers having a ‘Garden Party’
The Indiana Pacers are back in form and looking good.
KENNY BAYLESS: Sponsors sought for 'Ladies Only' event at Terre Haute Sporting Clays
Sponsors are being sought at the Ladies Only event at Terre Haute Sporting Clays on Saturday at 10 a.m. Sponsors should be willing to donate $1 or more for every broken bird. Each lady is allowed 25 shots. Flat donations are gladly accepted. Also, organizers are looking for more ladies to participate. Ammo, clay birds, and guns (if needed) will be furnished.
College Report: Lively earned collegiate upgrade with strong play
Hillary Lively signed to play Division II basketball at Maryville (Mo.) during her senior year at North Vermillion, but those plans changed and she would up at nearby Danville Area Community College — where she recently concluded an outstanding two-year career.
Lively was impressive enough to earn a Division I scholarship to Southeast Missouri State of the Ohio Valley Conference, and both her future and past college coaches think she will continue to succeed there.
“She fits what we need,” SEMO coach Ty Margenthaler said. “She has college experience, she is strong and physical and plays well around the basket and moves well.
“Her strength, rebounding and touch around the basket will be a big help. On the defensive end, she’ll be able to guard a true center.”
RAMBLIN' RECK: It’s May … a time for horses and horsepower
It’s the first day of May, a great month for sports.
It begins with the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. My Old Kentucky Home is played before the start of the race on which hundreds of bets will be placed by folks who ordinarily don’t bet on thoroughbred horse racing.
A week later, practice begins for the Indianapolis 500.
Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston
Having competed in the Boston Marathon once before in 2003, 35-year-old Majel Wells of Terre Haute thought she should give it another try in 2013.
“My goal was just to finish and enjoy Boston,” she reflected this week. “I had an injury [runner’s knee] beforehand, so I wasn’t too worried about beating my time from 2003 [4 hours, 10.20 seconds].
“But nobody cares about what your time is at Boston anyway.”
From what I’ve heard over the years, she’s right. Unless you’re a super-serious runner, the Boston Marathon has been more about taking in the atmosphere and having fun than placing in the top 50, although Wells was pleased that she beat her previous time by finishing in 3:55.19 on April 15.
Obviously, her race time wasn’t the most vivid memory that Wells took away from her 2013 Boston experience.
Amey Takes Aim: NHL playoffs to put TVs to good use
If Jenny had known, she probably wouldn’t have bought that TV.
But four or five years ago, my Fathers Day present — for those unfamiliar with Amey family traditions, the Fathers Day one is “let’s get something we all really want and pretend it’s a gift for Dad” — was a 42-inch Vizio. It’s been used even more than the cell phone I never would have bought for myself, or the TomTom that disappeared since Jenny’s smartphone arrived.
And it came with high-def.
I’m not going to insult you by telling you how great high-def is, because to do so would be to imply that you are even farther behind the technological curve than I am. I’m guessing, however, that not all of you have yet discovered what it does for hockey.
Foot Notes: ISU track athletes looking to keep improving at Drake Relays
Indiana State’s track schedule has helped its men’s and women’s teams escape the glacial Wabash Valley weather and enjoy warm days in Auburn, Ala., and Knoxville, Tenn.
With the Sycamores’ track facility basically laid to rest for competition and construction on a new one planned near the Wabash River to begin in 2014, major kudos go to everyone involved for continuing to produce athletes that are NCAA contenders who race with some of the world’s best.
Some of ISU’s current athletes are hoping for season-best performances this weekend against strong competition in the Drake Relays.
Former Sycamore NCAA pole-vault champion Kylie Hutson, who competes professionally for Nike and trains in her hometown of Terre Haute, also has been in Des Moines, Iowa, to compete in the Pole Vault in the Mall on Wednesday night.
REDNECK QUAKER: Variety of birds to search for in turkey hunting
My father-in-law, Donnell Dunn of Jacksonville, Fla., is a retired engineer from J.I. Case and an avid reader and loves information on anything he takes interest in. He has five patents under his belt during his career.
Donnell took great interest in the Turkey World Slam display at Gander Mountain and thought each bird needed some info to help people understand more about them.
TRACKSIDE: USAC racing picking up, including Sunday's stop in Terre Haute
With a break in the weather, U.S. Auto Club-sanctioned racing will kick into high gear on the area motorsports scene this weekend with events scheduled at three Indiana ovals.
Ramblin’ Reck: Sato first Foyt winner since 2002
Takuma Sato made Izod IndyCar Series history Sunday when he won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Former South players to play in Saylor benefit game
I had my first phone conversation with Mike Saylor since mid-February on Thursday and he sounded good.
The former Terre Haute South High School boys basketball coach, who’s been battling cancer this year, has been traveling back and forth to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for chemotherapy treatments.
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley prep athletes getting ready for next level
The NCAA “regular” signing period begins Wednesday for all sports except football, field hockey, soccer, track and field, cross country and men’s water polo.
RAMBLIN’ RECK: Pacers closing out a nice season
In case you hadn’t noticed, the final games of the regular season will be played this week in the National Basketball Association.
Amey Takes Aim: Can’t bottle the joy of Amey vacations
The first bad sign was the Gatorade bottle.
In the Bataan-Death-March drive to Orlando that got the Amey family spring break vacation off to a bad start, seeing it between lanes of I-24 — as we zipped along at a 100-miles-in-five-hours clip — filled with an ominous yellow liquid was a little bit scary. And although we didn't stop to check for sure, I'm fairly certain I knew about its contents.
And the person stuck in the same traffic jam with us, the one with the existential license plate YMIHR4, couldn’t have asked a more pertinent question.
But, after seeing a lot more of Oak Grove, Ky., than we’d planned, and after enduring more traffic slowdowns in Nashville, we were on our way. Even some rain in the dark in the Smokies didn’t slow us down much, so you would think our first-day troubles were over.
You would be wrong.
Redneck Quaker: Mascari gets thrills from turkey hunting
Annie Mascari is a beautiful, vibrant, 26-year-old lady that loves the outdoors.
She comes from a large family of four brothers and a sister and lives the teachings of good family values.
Olivia Rightly let me know that I “should talk to my teacher at St. Pats School, Ms. Mascari, because she’s taken a turkey.”
As I shook Annie’s hand, I could feel the energy she has for life. As proof, the first time she went up in an airplane, she jumped out of it!
She’s also quite the hunter. Mascari picked up a used PSE bow for $30, one for a left-hander because her left eye is dominate for shooting. The Page Arrows are her choice for broadheads.
RAMBLIN’ RECK: Louisville gets two shots at NCAA title
Louisville met Michigan in the championship game of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Monday. Louisville faces Connecticut in the title tilt of the women’s tournament tonight.
REDNECK QUAKER: Learning to shoot clays a great experience
Tom Mitchell from Burnett is an all-around outdoor enthusiast. His passions are motorcycles, cars, and most of all, shooting sports. When he sights in on metal target shooting with a hand gun or rifle you will hear a lot of “clang” noises, he can shoot very quiet also, because he is licensed to own suppressers.
TRACKSIDE: Racing season picking up speed
With several tracks already open and others scheduled to get underway this weekend it’s a sure sign the area motorsports campaign has taken the green flag for the 2013 season.
RAMBLIN’ RECK: Out with the hoops, in with the bats
It’s a super week for sports fans — college basketball comes to a close and the first baseball games are played in the major leagues.
COLLEGE REPORT: Conferences honor Valley softball players
Several Wabash Valley area college softball players have been honored by their respective conferences for outstanding play this spring.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Content McKenna has enjoyed seeing ISU's progress
It all happened so fast in June 2010.
One minute, Kevin McKenna was head coach of the Indiana State men’s basketball program. Then — poof! — he was gone.
McKenna resigned from his head coaching position at ISU on June 13, 2010 to take an assistant coach position on Dana Altman’s then-burgeoning University of Oregon staff.
- More Sports Columns Headlines
- RAMBLIN' RECK: Sunday promises to be big day in Indy