Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Sports

March 7, 2013

Back in blue — for a day

Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt

The 14-year veteran center in the National Football League 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 — that Saturday earned his greatest   rewards.

A six-time Pro Bowl selection (2005, ‘06, ‘07, ‘09, ‘10 and ‘12) and a two-time first-team All-Pro honoree (2005, ‘07), the former North Carolina standout signed a one-day contract with the Colts. He then offered an emotional and heartfelt good-bye to old friends, former teammates and coaches, and long-time team employees.

“Back in Blue! That’s a good thing to say,” Saturday said. “First, I just want to thank everybody for coming out [for his good-bye 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.

“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, ‘09), has meant a lot to the Tucker, Ga., native and his family.

“I just want to say thank you to Mr. Irsay and the Colts organization,” Saturday said. “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.

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