INDIANAPOLIS – Ben Utt came to the Colts in 1982 as a free agent after being signed by Dallas in 1981 as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech. Utt established himself as a sturdy and versatile presence on the club’s line. After opening games at both left tackle and left guard in 1982, he started at both guard positions in 1983, while serving as third tight end. From 1984-86, he was entrenched as the starting left guard before starting 32 games at right guard in his last two seasons (1987-88). Utt played with stalwarts Ray Donaldson and Chris Hinton and blocked for Eric Dickerson, Randy McMillan, Albert Bentley and Curtis Dickey. The years he played were some of the best rushing seasons the team has had in Indianapolis. Colts fans appreciated his workman efforts, and he was one of the best personalities in the team’s early seasons in Indianapolis. Utt looks back on his career:
What was your most memorable Colts game and why?
Beating the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football on Halloween Night at the Hoosier Dome in 1988 (55-23). Eric Dickerson and our offense had an incredible night! It was one of those nights we executed very well, and it showed on the scoreboard.
Who was the toughest teammate you had and why was he the toughest?
I thought it was Ray “Bulldog” Donaldson. He played 18 years and could still play today if he wanted. He once started about 170 straight games. You can’t do that without being a special player.
What was your favorite road win?
It was finally beating the Miami Dolphins in Miami in 1987. I never was a part of a team that beat them in the Orange Bowl, but we won the first time in the new stadium. It was a great day in a season where we won the AFC East.
What did your jersey number mean to you?
Jersey number 64 was worn by the Packers great guard Jerry Kramer (click here) and also by my high school teammate, Mike Reiner, who died when we were still in high school. As you can see, it had meaning for me.
What advice would you give to players heading into the NFL?
Making it in the NFL doesn’t mean you got better looking and smarter. Protect yourself and think about your future after football. God willing, you will be a retired player much longer than you will be an active player. Be smart, be humble and respect the game. It doesn’t last long.
If you could pick three people to share a meal with, who would they be and why would you include them?
I would pick Duane Bickett, Matt Bouza and Chris Hinton – because they all owe me a dinner. They were great teammates, too, and we had some memorable seasons together.
When was the loudest you heard the RCA Dome or Lucas Oil Stadium and what was the circumstance?
It was the Colts’ first Monday Night Football game on Halloween Night in the Hoosier Dome. The city really got behind it because it was the first time on national TV. Halloween night played a part in the crowd dressing up and having a good time. We scored 45 points in a near-flawless first half and it was a big win. It was a big night on national television, the first of many times as later seasons played out.
Do you have a favorite quote? If so, what is it and why does it mean something to you?
I like, “It’s now how smart you sound – it’s how easily you are understood.” It’s pretty self-explanatory.
What is the best college uniform and why?
With David Cutcliffe as head coach of the Duke Blue Devils, who of course coached Peyton Manning in college, the Blue Devils look just like the Colts uniforms, plus they have the new college rotation of multi-looks/colors.
What is the best NFL uniform (other than the Colts) and why?
It’s hard to beat the tradition of the Washington Redskins and my high school team, the Vidalia Indians, had the same uniforms.
Who is the opposing head coach(s) you find always had his team prepared the most thoroughly?
It was Don Shula of Miami (click here), in my opinion. They always seemed so well-prepared. They executed well and were not penalized often. To win, you had to beat them.
What do you remember the most about Colts fans?
In Indianapolis, like in Baltimore, the fans loved the Colts and the Colts loved the fans. I can remember seeing Colts fans Denny and Sandi Norman and Dick Lacy before every home game. To a point where it was a superstition, I made sure I spoke with them before each game started. Very possibly, they were the most loyal and dedicated fans.
Please describe what you currently are doing and where you live as well as any family information you wish to include.
I am a lifelong resident of Atlanta, Georgia. I am going into my 26th year in the investment management business and my 17th year as a Managing Director for Invesco. My wife, Liz, and I have just celebrated 31st wedding anniversary. My daughter, Olivia, is a sophomore honors student at Tulane University in New Orleans and plays indoor and sand volleyball. My son, Garrett, graduated from Duke, where he played football and now lives in Baltimore where he is building and running a football recruiting website and social network called SigingDay.com. After Duke, he played professional poker and lived in Las Vegas for two years.