A Question-Answer Session with Colts Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, the Colts' first-round selection in the 2001 NFL Draft, long has been one of the NFL's top players at his position, having played in the last two Pro Bowls and having made the game as a starter last season. An eight-year veteran from the University of Miami, he has had 1,000 yards receiving each of the last four seasons, and has set career-highs in receptions in each of his first seven seasons, helping the Colts to six consecutive playoff appearances, the last five AFC South titles, and a Super Bowl victory following the 2006 season. Wayne, who played collegiately at the University of Miami, not only is one of the Colts' top players, he has developed in recent seasons into one of the Colts' most popular players as well as one of their most durable. He has not missed a game since 2001, his rookie season, and until this season he had not missed a practice since that season. This season, he is again among the NFL leaders with 62 receptions for 870 yards and five touchdowns through 12 games. Wayne this week sat down and spoke with Colts.com about several topics, including his relationship with the fans, his durability and what the Colts have meant to his career.
Question: One thing that's very noticeable to anyone who follows the team is you have developed a very close relationship with the fans over the years. How much has that come to mean to you?
Answer: It means a lot. We come here to play a game and that's our job. That's what we're getting paid to do. But we're also out there to put on a good show for the fans. Me personally, I feel like the fans are underrated. They're out there screaming at the top of their lungs. They're making it hard for the opposing teams to make their calls. That helps us. That's kind of my way of thanking them, kind of getting them involved and letting them know I appreciate them.
Q: Have you seen that grow over the years? It seems it has . . .
A: It's getting bigger. When I got here, it was already there with the Reggie Miller stuff, so it was already here as far as the first name, but it definitely has grown because now I get the Reggie chants at the away games, so that's pretty cool. But once again, that's just my way of showing my gratitude and appreciating it.
Q: You make it a point to go over to the corner when you score, or even before the games. It's not something you take for granted. Some guys might give what you just said lip service, but it's imant to you . . .
A: There's the one particular corner – whenever we run from the tunnel, everyone runs to the corner where our sideline is. The other corners, it seems like they're always forgotten. I just go over there to get them involved and let them know, 'Hey, you're not forgotten. We've still got love for you over there, too.' All of a sudden it has grown to whenever I'm out in the city or whatever, people will come up to me and say, 'Hey, nice to meet you, I'm so and so and I'm in your corner. I'm in Reggie's corner.' It's grown to be my corner, so I definitely have to go over there.
Q: You haven't missed a game since – knock on wood – 2001, your rookie season. You've played in more consecutive games than any Colts player except quarterback Peyton Manning. How much pride do you take in that aspect of your game?
A: Knock on wood. That's right. It crushed me this year just to miss my first practice. It really wasn't brought to my attention, but then I went home and thought about and was like, 'Man, that was my first practice I missed since my rookie year' – seven years. I feel like practice is the hard part. If you're able to go out there and practice every day and conquer that, Sundays – that's the easy part, you know? Yeah, you're out there and it's tackle and it's live, but Sundays are always the fun time. I feel if I'm not out there practicing, then I can't do what I want to do in the game. I feel like I'm going to miss something. So, the time I did miss that first practice, I had people like (middle linebacker) Gary Brackett and a couple of other guys – it seemed like I had some extra energy, so they were telling me to relax. They were saying, 'Be cool, man. It's going to be all right. We need you out there on Sundays.' I just feel like all the hard work is done through the week. All the preparation, that's when everything is in the mixture. I love to practice. That's when I feel like I get better. That comes with my work ethic and things of that nature. I just like to go out and help my teammates get good looks. I try to emulate the game in practice and I go out there and feel like, 'OK, this is what I'm going to do,' so if you don't practice doing that, you have a visual, but you don't have a set where you've actually done it. You don't know how it's going to look or how it's going to work or whatever the case may be. So, I love practice.
Q: In that sense, how would you define this season? Because it has been a tougher season than you're used to in terms of having to gut some things out . . .
A: It has been. If you look at it numbers-wise, everybody on this team's numbers are down, but in a way, it is good. We have had to tough some things out and that shows the character of this team. You're going to need those games to try to move on and try to conquer that goal and that's to win the Super Bowl. If you think about it, if you think back to our Super Bowl year (in 2006), when we won, the whole time through the playoffs, there was nobody worried about numbers. Everybody was worried about doing their job, helping your buddy, doing whatever it takes. I wasn't worried about balls. (Wide receiver) Marvin (Harrison) wasn't worried about balls. (Tight end) Dallas (Clark) wasn't worried about balls. There was nobody worried about anything. We just wanted to get our job done. I feel like that's what we need to do now. We're not where we normally would be, which is in first place in our division, so we don't have room for error. Now, we have to get what we can. Whenever the opportunity comes, we have to conquer that moment. I think with these close games it's going to push us and let us know what we're capable of doing in tight situations, so in the long run, I think it will help us out.
Q: You've talked a lot over the years about how you've always improved that number. You've always gotten at least one more catch each season. That will be a tough thing to do this year, but you seem OK with that . . .
A: I am. I am. Going into the season, I knew with a healthy Marvin and a healthy Dallas and everybody in the equation healthy, those numbers were going to be tough. That's fine. You have goals set, but for you to have a successful season doesn't necessarily mean you're going to have to conquer all of your goals. It's strange, because normally I'm sitting pretty and everything, but who cares?
Q: Final question. You're in your eighth season and obviously firmly established as not only one of the NFL's top receivers, but as a core player on one of the most successful teams of this era. You're forever linked with this franchise. Do you ever imagine what your career would have been like with another team? It's been a very, very good fit for you here . . .
A: It's kind of hard to picture that. I really don't see myself anywhere else. Even when it was time for my contract – and you always kind of sit back at that time and you're thinking, 'Man, what if they don't want me. Where do I see myself?' I can't see myself anywhere else. This is where I started. This is where I want to finish. You see people go out there, and they go to different teams, and it may be for different issues – money, or whatever the case may be. But the grass is not always greener. I can't see that. Every time you see me and you think of football and the National Football League, I see me in blue and white. I see me as a Colt. I can't picture me anywhere else.