Colts Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne Making Fifth Consecutive Pro Bowl Appearance
INDIANAPOLIS – He is proud to be in Honolulu, Hawaii this week.
Part of that is because Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne worked to get there, and part of it is because he waited – five years before he made his first Pro Bowl.
But Wayne, who has followed his five years waiting and working toward one of the NFL's most prestigious post-season honors with five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances – the longest streak among active NFL wide receivers – said he's more proud of something else.
Pro Bowl honors? One-hundred reception seasons?
The admiration of peers?
All of that's nice, Wayne said recently, and without question it matters, but he said what matters to him most isn't as much the honors as what it took to attain them.
Which is why when Wayne was asked recently what mattered most – five Pro Bowls or having played in 150 regular-season consecutive games – the answer came quickly.
He said it also came easily.
"Game streak – without a doubt," Wayne said recently late in the 2010 NFL season, a season in which the Colts won a seventh AFC South title in eight seasons and a season on which Colts.com will continue looking back in the coming weeks.
Wayne said the reason is simple.
The honors are the result, and the reward. But the game streak?
To Wayne, that not only defines what he is about, it is the foundation on which accolades, performance – a career – are built.
"My whole thing with me is consistency," Wayne said. "Yes, there have been consistent Pro Bowls the last five years – and 1,000 yards the last whatever years. But that's all individual stuff. That can get done.
"What's hard to do is to be accountable every week. That is not easy to do."
Easy or not, Wayne has done it – not only the last five years, but practically since joining the Colts a decade ago.
Wayne, a first-round selection by the Colts in the 2001 NFL Draft from the University of Miami, missed three games as a rookie with a high-ankle sprain, but hasn't missed a game since. He said late this past season he spent that season trying to adjust to the Colts, trying to figure just how to make it in the NFL.
He said he spent a lot of time that season, and in subsequent seasons, watching eight-time Pro Bowl selection Marvin Harrison, and what he said he learned was how to work – not just occasionally, and not just for extended stretches, but every day and every play.
"I looked at it and thought, 'This is a future Hall of Famer – for him to do what he's doing on a consistent basis, he has to be doing something right,'' Wayne said. "I had to put all that Miami stuff on the backburner, and I had to do it the way he did it. Not only in the way he carried himself, but also the way he practiced."
Somewhere along the line, he not only practiced and carried himself like Harrison, he started producing like him, too.
Wayne, after catching 27 passes for 345 yards and no touchdowns as a rookie, improved statistically each of the next six seasons, catching 49 passes for 716 yards and four touchdowns in 2002 and 68 passes for 838 yards and seven touchdowns in 2003. He surpassed 1,000 yards for the first time the following season, catching 77 passes for 1,210 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2004, then caught 83 passes for 1,055 yards and five touchdowns in 2005.
The following season, he made the Pro Bowl for the first time after catching 86 passes for 1,310 yards and nine touchdowns, then led the AFC in receiving yards with his first 100-reception season in 2007, finishing with 104 receptions for 1,510 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He caught 82 passes for 1,145 yards and six touchdowns the following season, then followed a 100-reception, 1,264-yard, 10-touchdown season in 2009 by catching a career-high 111 passes for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns.
He became the seventh player in NFL history with three seasons of 100 or more receptions this past season, and the 11th player with 100 or more receptions in back-to-back seasons.
As he has done on several occasions throughout his career, Wayne produced this past season amid multiple injuries to players around him in the offense, a list that included three front-line skill players placed on injured reserve: tight end Dallas Clark and wide receivers Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez.
"I go into it the same no matter what," Wayne said. "(Colts Head) Coach (Jim) Caldwell does a great job of reminding us as a team, 'You don't have to do anything special. Just stay with your signature move, whatever that move is – and just do it a little better.' As soon as you start saying, 'Man, (tight end) Dallas (Clark) is out. Man, (wide receiver Austin) Collie is out. I have to do this or that,' that's when you lose focus on what your best move is.
"I just play with the same intensity, but the main thing is, 'Don't take it down a notch. If anything, take it up even more.' Nothing changes with me on that aspect. I keep it all the same. I just go out there and whenever my number's called, I do whatever I can do to keep the chains moving and keep the crowd cheering."
And the way to do that, Wayne said, hasn't changed – even after 10 NFL seasons, and even after five Pro Bowl appearances.
"I feel like whenever Sunday came or whenever game day is, I'm answering the bell," Wayne said. "Sometimes, freak things happen for guys – knees, shoulders, whatever the case. There's nothing you can do about it. But we're all going to have nicks and bruises. You have to learn how to play with those, play through them. I take pride in being there every week.
"And this is how I look at it: if you're there every week, you have a better chance to make the Pro Bowl, a better chance to get to 1,000 yards. I feel like everything joins being there every week. I look at being there, playing every week, as the nucleus."