Welcome home Reggie Wayne.
The Indianapolis Colts veteran Pro Bowl wide receiver had a chance Wednesday evening to tell his side of the story, to explain why he decided to return to the team that had made him a firs-round draft pick in 2001.
Wayne surprised a lot of people Tuesday night when he decided to take less money and come back to Indianapolis to be a “Colt for life.”
In fact, the general consensus among many of the national media who cover the National Football League was that he was headed to whatever team former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning ended up at. Most figured he would either be part of a package deal or be signed as a device to help lure Manning.
“Why would they be surprised? This is where I’ve always played at. What’s the surprising part?
“That’s what you get when you believe all the Reggie Wayne and Peyton Manning hype,” Wayne voiced. “It was a surprise to me because I didn’t know that I was following him. They asked me a question about it and I said, ‘Yeah, of course I would follow him if the situation was right.’ But I always saw myself as a Colt, you know?
“Don’t get me wrong. I came here to win. I came here to win games. I didn’t come here to fall off. The intensity is still the same. Everything that you get is still the same. And we’re going to do everything we have to do to get to that point. As far as what the national media was thinking, I mean that was their opinion. And that’s cool. That was their theory. As you can see, they are dead wrong. So I am here in the 317, which is Indianapolis. I am here for the rest of my career. So let’s go ahead and win while we can.”
Wayne inked a three-year deal late Tuesday evening for $17.5 million with $7.5 million guaranteed. He will receive $13.5 million over the first two years of the contract.
“There were a lot of things that were more important. I could have made a couple dollars more, a couple more pennies. But I was fine with this situation that I was in. There was a lot of stuff that I had to think about and sit down. Right before I made my decision, I took 30 minutes. I just closed myself in my office [in his Miami home] and told my little three-year old, ‘Don’t come in here. Daddy’s about to negotiate your future,” Wayne explained.
“I just thought it all made sense. It just put everything into perspective. I Googled myself and just looked at my career stats [with the Colts] and just looked at everything and put everything into a small little bottle and shook it up. The first thing that came into my mind, that popped out, was just staying here with the Colts. I feel like that was the best thing to do to help build this [rebuilding] process and just keep it going.”
How close did he really come to leaving the Colts? Wayne very nearly sold his Indianapolis home this past weekend.
“I had somebody actually looking at my house Saturday. I almost sold my house. Do you believe that? Almost sold my house. Had a guy that was real interested in buying my house,” he said.
“I’m glad I didn’t sell it. So I’m glad that I’m still here, glad that I still get to meet with you guys [the media] on Fridays [during the season]. That won’t change. This is what it is. I’m excited to be here and we’re going to make it work.”
His reasoning for coming back to Indianapolis: “I got plenty of interest [from other NFL teams]. Quite a bit. I kept calling Two Guys and a Truck to help me move, but the line kept being busy. I was stuck here. This is home and this is where I wanted to be. It came down to the wire with a couple of teams. I really just took my time, thought about everything, sat with my family, put everything together and this was the right choice. ‘Colt for life.’ I’m going to get that tattoo put on my back.”
On being a part of the Colts’ rebuilding process: “I do want to be part of it just like I’m part of the city. I just want to help build that foundation. It’s not set in stone that we’re going to suck. Who knows, we might shock the world. This time next year, you might be writing that these Colts are some bad boys. I guess we’ll be in tune to find out what happens. Until then, I’m just going to sit here with the guys we have and keep working at it. Hopefully we can get something going real soon.”
Being part of the foundation of the franchise with defensive end Robert Mathis: “I’ll be part of this team. If that’s the title that I’m given, that’s fine. I consider myself a leader as well as Robert does. We are going to do the things that we have to do to lead the team. We still have guys on this team that know what to do and know how to go out there and play to the final whistle. We’re going to need that from everybody. I do whatever I can to help the team get better or help a player get better. Whatever my two cents does for them, hopefully it will carry them a long way.”
• Redding, Justice sign with Colts – Former Baltimore Ravens defensive end Cory Redding was added to the Indianapolis roster Wednesday as was ex-Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Winston Justice.
Redding was an unrestricted free agent in Baltimore who is expected to help Indianapolis’ defense transition to a 3-4 alignment. Justice, meanwhile, was obtained in a trade with the Eagles. He is expected to start at right offensive tackle. Philadelphia and the Colts exchanged sixth-round picks for the 2012 draft to complete the deal.
“It’s always a great opportunity when someone wants you and you can continue playing your childhood dream. And that’s in the NFL. I believe my time was up in Baltimore and [Colts coach] Chuck [Pagano] came calling,” Redding said Wednesday about his decision to sign with Indianapolis. He agreed to a three-year, $10.5 million contract.
“My relationship up there with Chuck over the last two years [in Baltimore] made this decision very easy. [The Colts] stepped up to the plate and showed how serious they want me. That’s why I’m here. It’s mostly on Chuck, my relationship with him and wanting to come here and do something special with the Colts.”
Pagano was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator in 2011 and had been Baltimore’s defensive backfield coach prior to that.