INDIANAPOLIS – As the national anthem played on Monday night and an ESPN camera panned to Reggie Wayne, the picture spoke a thousand words.
The tears were beginning to run down the right cheek of Wayne.
After a week away from the game he adores, Wayne was back doing something that soon to be 36-yard olds think about in only Hollywood type, fantasy worlds.
"It's an emotional game. When you give it everything you've got, sometimes it comes out," Wayne said of his pre-game emotions.
"I'm truly blessed, 14 years and still here, playing a kids game. I've dreamed of playing in the NFL since I was seven years old and I'm still playing. It gets emotional. It's a prime-time game, the bright lights, great teammates, great coaching staff and great organization. It couldn't get any better than this. Each game it hits me. You never know when it's going to be your last one. Your life expectancy is 3 1/2 years (in the NFL). Fourteen years for me. I've beat that up. I'm just blessed to be out there each game giving everything you've got. I just want to lay it on the field."
Reggie Wayne was emotional during that beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. #MNF pic.twitter.com/IFRAQey1vS — ESPN Monday Night (@ESPNMondayNight) November 4, 2014
Before Wayne's 2013 season ended due to an ACL injury, he had started 189 consecutive games, a number that seems unfathomable to skill players.
If Wayne stays healthy the rest of the season, he will break Peyton Manning's franchise record of 208 games played.
Listening to Wayne constantly talk about playing into his mid 30s, it quickly becomes apparent what longevity means to the 14-year pro.
On Monday night, the whole nation saw.
"I've been fighting some injuries and I've been busting my hump to get out there," says Wayne. "Just being able to defeat some odds, whatever those odds were, to be out there with my teammates, you get emotional.
"An old wise guy told me you shouldn't hold back your tears. If you have tears coming, let them out. (Monday) was the night with the tears."
The tears from Wayne didn't last for long.
He returned to the lineup with a wrapped left elbow that didn't hinder him from catching four passes for 70 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown.
Wayne moved into eighth place on the league's all-time receiving list with 14,070 yards and has Marvin Harrison next up at 14,580 yards.
Last week, it was the other Colts wideouts who received a ton of attention but when the pads were put on Monday night, there was old faithful once again leading the group.
"There are so many guys with what he's got and what he's dealing with, (and) there's no way they could do it, especially at his age," Chuck Pagano said of Wayne after the win.
"The catches he made over the middle---going down on that arm, pulling that one down and running down the sideline for a touchdown. It was awesome to see. The guy is just incredible."