Very few people, and that group really didn’t even include the man himself, believed that Reggie Wayne would be back with the Indianapolis Colts this season. When free agency began and it took a while to hear from his longtime franchise, Wayne — who watched plenty of his teammates get sent packing — figured he was on the move.
Instead, the Colts finally dialed him up and Wayne is back in Indianapolis. And he’s with a brand new quarterback in No. 1 pick Andrew Luck. Wayne certainly isn’t alone in his opinions, but in the time he’s gotten to know Luck and play with him, he believes the Colts are in for something special.
Reggie Wayne joined WNDE in Indianapolis with Query and Schultz to discuss how he wound up back in Indianapolis, the free agency process, coming back to a Colts team in rebuilding mode, what has struck him early on about Andrew Luck, if he’s had to change parts of his game and early comparisons between Luck and Peyton Manning.
How did it all unfold to the point where you wound up back in Indianapolis?:
“I didn’t know what to expect, just from the history of the way that whole situation goes, you expect the worst. You think you’re not going to be back. I’ve had some good friends, Edgerrin James … was in that same situation and he didn’t come back and he was part of this whole foundation. I kind of just expected the worst and if something good happens, then great. If I was moving on, then I was already expecting it.”
Take us through the situation where so many veterans of the team are let go and shortly thereafter you re-sign:
“It caught me by surprise, also. From the whole free-agent situation, it started at 4 p.m. My phone was just going nuts from about 4 p.m. until about 10 p.m. To be honest with you, I didn’t hear from the Colts until probably 9:50. It was weird. By that time, I basically counted the Colts out. I didn’t think anything was going to happen, but I got that phone call and that’s all I wanted to hear. … Everybody [else] got crossed off. I will say I took a lot less money. I will say that, but this is where my heart was, this is where I wanted to be.”
On watching his jersey up for sale online during free agency:
“Right when free agency started, at that 4 p.m., I was just online messing around, and my jersey went from 50 bucks to on sale for $12.95. I didn’t know what that meant, either. I was like, ‘I guess this is a sign.’”
Why decide to come back to a rebuilding program? Was it because you became the veteran leader of the whole deal?:
“Yeah, it was definitely a humbling experience. Me, being where I’ve been part of this organization and there’s always been a guy — a Peyton Manning, Jeff Saturday, someone that was in more years than I was so it was less for me to do. As I signed that contract, I talked to Mr. Irsay and talked to Chuck Pagano and everybody and they told me they wanted me to be myself. I didn’t have to do anything different. But when you’re around a locker room of so many young guys, you just feel like you have to say something, you have to lead the way. And it’s more than just leading by example. You have to be vocal; they have to hear your voice. So I just took that upon it and took that challenge and it’s keeping me young.”
What’s it like playing with Andrew Luck and what do you notice about him most that we wouldn’t?:
“First of all, I tell you what, I think the Colts picked the right guy. He is a great student of the game. He knows what he’s doing; he’s an excellent learner. He understands the way everything flows. I’ll tell you what I’m excited about, every time I watch him … he’s poised. Nothing seems to rattle him, no matter if he’s sacked, if he throws an interception, something goes wrong, he’s on that sideline and worrying about the next play. … He comes in, takes control of the huddle, understands what’s going on around him, and I really think he’s going to be very, very good one day.”
Have you had to change yourself as a receiving in terms of timing and things of that nature?:
“You do. It starts off just with we run a whole new offense, so I have to retool myself all over again. In the old system, we had to run a lot of square routes. Now it’s a lot of speed turns, so I had to challenge my body all over again. I had run routes like I’m running now since high school. … It all takes time and it’s all going to work together.”
If there’s one comparison you’re willing to make between Luck and Peyton Manning is it their cerebral style of playing the game?:
“Yeah, it is. I don’t think anybody can be as, I won’t say prepared, as Peyton, because Peyton lives and dies football every day. I don’t know too many times where we had a conversation where we didn’t talk about football. That’s just who he is. But you can tell Andrew, he loves the game, loves football, but also wants to have a life after football. That, there, is the difference. “