Marvin Harrison looked on from a Lucas Oil Stadium press box concerned for a former teammate.
Lucas Oil Stadium went from an electric primetime environment to a library quiet, eerie feeling in the matter of seconds.
The reason was
Facing a third-and-one with 7:21 to go in the fourth quarter, the Colts had a chance to put the nail in the Broncos’ coffin.
Pep Hamilton went for the gusto, calling a pass that Denver never saw coming.
Instead of a “walk-in touchdown”, Luck’s pass forced Wayne to bend awkwardly, and as the 14-year veteran fell to the Lucas Oil turf, his teammates knew.
“With Reg, you don’t see him off the field at all,”
Trent Richardsonsays. “He’s an all-purpose player. You know it’s kind of serious when you see him on the ground. The stadium got quiet. You could hear a drop of a penny in that stadium."
“Let alone practices and games, (Wayne) doesn’t even come out for series of plays in practice,” Da’Rick Rogers says looking back on the injury. “When he went down, you could tell what it was. The stadium was completely dead.”
“Anytime you see a teammate go down, you hold your breath for a minute,”
Adam Vinatierisays. “He’s a guy…(knocks on his locker wood panel) you hate to say he never gets hurt, but he fights through stuff, too. He finds a way. When he couldn’t get back up and get going, it kind of deflated us a bit. Everybody in the whole building felt it. It was a hard, humbling time when you see Reggie Wayne get taken off.”
Wayne knew it too.
He slammed the bench, before tears filled his eyes. Wayne then walked (refused to be helped off) towards the tunnel he had run out of for more than 100 straight games.
With emotions running rampant on the Colts sidelines, a game needed to be finished against the undefeated Broncos.
The Colts were about to punt the football and give the ball back to Peyton Manning, with a chance to see their lead disappear for the first time since early in the second quarter.
With one veteran voice gone to the locker room, it was time for another to step up and make sure the Colts would preserve the victory for Wayne.
“Immediately, I tried to get our sideline to take whatever emotions they had about Reggie and their feelings towards him and put them aside,”
“Just trust the medical staff and get us to try and refocus on finishing off that game and getting a win.”
The Colts returned to the locker room and delivered a 39-33 win to their injured leader.
On Sunday night, Wayne won’t be in a sweat suit standing next to Chuck Pagano during the National Anthem.
Full pads will be back on Wayne, a remarkable feat considering the timetable, but not when you know who was behind the rehab.
“You hear things about Reggie, but once you actually get to see it, it’s a blessing for me because it’s something I want to work towards,” a young Richardson says.
“He’s someone that I look up to. I’m not amazed that it’s Reggie. I’m amazed by the injury.”