ATLANTA – When Allison Melangton passes the torch tomorrow afternoon to close out the presentation for Indianapolis’ bid of Super Bowl LII, it will be going to very steady hands.
Colts fans have fond memories of one Jeff Saturday pouncing on a loose football for a touchdown during the team’s eventual march to Super Bowl XLI.
On Tuesday, Saturday will once again be center stage, this time in a far different stadium, but still fighting for a place he proudly calls home.
Saturday will stand in front of the NFL Owners and speak from the heart in why he believes Indianapolis deserves to host another Super bowl.
“Jeff has an incredible of level of respect and integrity in the league and with the owners,” Melangton said on Monday. “He loves our city. He loves our community, and he loves the Colts.
“He is a man who has a lot of business experience, but he has a lot of heart. I think that our bid is full of a lot of heart and the best way to tell that story was through someone like Jeff that loves the community, has a big heart, but also has the respect and relationship with the owners.”
That relationship with the NFL owners is something that should not be taken lightly heading into Tuesday’s presentations.
Back in 2011, Saturday was serving on the Executive Committee of the NFL Players Association.
Owners around the league raved about how Saturday conducted himself through labor negotiations and said he was a vital factor in ultimately coming to a deal.
The indelible photo of Saturday embracing Patriots Owner Robert Kraft spoke volumes of what the former All-Pro center did for the immediate future of the NFL.
“The NFL and the NFL players and owners are lucky that there was a guy like Jeff Saturday in the league,” Kraft said back in 2011. “Players are passing through, but he took the role of a principal and he made every negotiating session. He represented the interests of the players. The reason we don’t have double practices, he put so much time and effort. Without Jeff Saturday, there wouldn’t have been a deal.”
Come tomorrow afternoon, Saturday will once again have the attention of every NFL Owner.
“I hope they see a man who cares about the game, the NFL, the brand, all the things that helped me in my life. I feel fortunate to be able to play as long as a I did and I care about the future of it, not just specifically Super Bowl LII, but the game itself,” Saturday says.
“I think we just offer a fantastic experience and I believe that. That’s an easy sell to me. That was very similar in negotiations. I knew what I believed in. I knew what we were fighting for so I was going to be real. I feel like I’m coming from that same angle so I hope that goes a long way.”
And proud to have JEFF SATURDAY present Indy's bid with Allison!— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) May 19, 2014
A focus of Saturday’s presentation will be towards the legacy program of the Indianapolis Super Bowl bid.
With USA Football located in the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana has ideal resources for trying to make the game of football better and safer through Heads Up Football.
Saturday has spoken to his former coach Tony Dungy, who was Indianapolis’ closer during the 2011 bid process, and knows that he will be nervous tomorrow.
While Saturday doesn’t have it pinned down to what he will exactly say to the owners, there’s no doubt that the message will be filled with passion.
“Honestly, I travel all over the United States and every national media, local media, everybody talks about how this was the greatest Super Bowl experience they had. The fit, the town, walking, staying inside if you needed to, the community, the volunteers, the hospitality that we had, people sharing stories of I got lost and somebody walked me to my restaurant…that’s Hoosier hospitality,” Saturday says.
“That’s what we do and I think it’s good that the nation got to experience that finally. You just look at the synergy in our city with the basketball, and football and racing. I just think this is a great opportunity to bring more exposure to Indianapolis.”
For Colts Owner Jim Irsay, having a closer like Saturday is a comforting feeling with the presentation nearing.
“He’s just as special as it gets in representing the horseshoe,” Irsay says of Saturday. “Whether it was going to get that fumbled ball in the end zone against the Patriots, in that incredible year that led us to the rain in Florida to get that championship, Jeff is that type of guy. If the ball is on the ground, he’s going to get it. We want him symbolically to get that football and bring it home for us.
“He has so much respect of our league, our other owners, we are really fortunate to have an ambassador who is really seen as a man with so much integrity. In talking with him, he’s behind this effort 100 percent because he knows and he feels, like I do and all of us do, that Indianapolis really has a unique opportunity to duplicate an even better Super Bowl and prove how we are the best city to host a Super Bowl.”