INDIANAPOLIS – The last time
Now, Hilton is 12 years older and he calls Wayne a teammate, sitting by him in meeting rooms, constantly in his ear trying to pick the brain of a potential Hall of Famer.
“Whenever I get a chance I just make sure I tell him ‘thank you’ for just being able to have the time to be able to talk to me,” Hilton says of Wayne. “Whenever I have a question to ask him, he always answers so just to be able to have the type of guy means a lot.”
Wayne enters his 13th NFL season 32 catches shy of 1,000 for his career and has piled up 13,063 receiving yards since being drafted in 2001.
At the age of 23, Hilton marvels at those numbers and hopes one day he can be held in the same regard as Wayne.
“Everybody is trying to get to where (Wayne) is at,” Hilton says. “Floyd (Mayweather) is a great boxer and everyone wants to get where he’s at. Reggie is a great receiver and a Hall of Famer so everyone wants to get where he is at so for me to be right there next to him, I just feel blessed.”
Hilton isn’t the only young offensive contributor who shares in the awe of Wayne’s career numbers.
While Wayne would differ,
“(Wayne) is the consummate professional in my mind,” Luck said. “If I were lucky enough to play as long as he’s played, that’s how I would model my behaviors in the locker room.”
There’s a reason Wayne is applauded after nearly every catch, in every drill, at Colts training camp.
There’s a reason the “Reggie” chants will once again commence when Wayne runs over to the east corner of the north end zone at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 8.
For Wayne, the 1,000-catch mark means he’s “been playing a long time” but there’s a reason that at the age of 34, the six-time Pro Bowler is still earning trips to Hawaii.
It’s the consecutive games streak that really resonates with Wayne.
“Me being able to be there each week and answering that bell is bigger than everything else, believe it or not. I take pride in that. I want to be there for the guys. When they go down in the foxhole, I want to be available to go with them.”
Wayne calls himself the “Vice President” of the Colts offense with No. 12 sitting in the Oval Office.
When the Colts 2013 minicamp came to a close in mid-June and Wayne was asked what he was going to do during his “time off”, the 13-year vet rolled his eyes.
At his age, and achieving the numbers that he does, there is no time off.
The hours have gotten longer in preparation for each August and year-after-year, week-after-week, pencil No. 87 into the Colts starting lineup.
“I get up too early to not play. I take pride in it. I want to be there each week,” Wayne says.
“I know if I’m there each week, I have a shot. I’ve got an opportunity to do something. Like I say, you can’t make the club in the tub, so that’s not where I want to be.”