On Sunday, the Colts kicked off their first game of the season at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The next morning, they went back to school to kick off their first Community Monday of the year.
“Whether we win, lose, play awesome, don’t play great individually, I think it puts everything in perspective every week,” said safety Matthias Farley.
PHOTOS: Community Monday - Colts Day In Schools
The Colts partnered with local elementary schools to present Colts Day in Schools, sponsored by Vincennes University. Advocating the importance of literacy is a core initiative of the team’s community outreach. During Colts Day in Schools, Colts players visited students grades K through 3, to read a story and distribute a free book to each child.
“Whatever happens to us on a Sunday, life is going to go on and there are people that need us out there supporting them and showing them that outside of football, we have lives and everything is important,” said long snapper Luke Rhodes.
What was important on Monday was spending time reading to kids. And that’s what the Colts did at schools across the city.
“How many of you all brushed your teeth this morning?” safety Matthias Farley asked third graders at James Whitcomb Riley School 43 in Indianapolis.
“We came and we read to a couple of classes, Luke and I did,” he said. “We read Blue’s book, which is awesome. We got to love on some kids and just spread how important reading is.”
This week, Farley had a special guest – his older brother, Nathan, who learned a lot about Indiana listening to Matthias read “Blue’s Road Trip Through Indiana A to Z.”
He enjoyed seeing his brother in a different, but equally important role with the Colts.
“Just as proud as when he forced that fumble on Sunday,” he said. “I was just as proud seeing how those kids reacted to him being there and what he had to say.”
What the players said was significant. But just as significant was what they didn’t say.
“It definitely sends a message that, ‘Hey, I play football every day, but I’m still regular enough to come into a school and read a book and I had to read too and I had to read to even get to the point I’m in in the NFL,” said Bakari Posey, Principal at School 43.
Across town, wide receiver Ryan Grant and tight end Eric Ebron were huddled up with kids at William Penn School 49.
“We were out there reading and kicking it a little bit. It was pretty fun. They asked interesting questions. So, that made us laugh a lot,” said Grant.
It’s a nice change of pace he said, to focus on something other than football – if only for an hour.
“You just want to get away, clear your mind, go laugh and hang out with the kids – just bring some joy to their day.”
On the East Side, tight end Mo Alie-Cox read to students at Anna Brochhausen School 88.
And on the West Side, Phillip Walker read “Goodnight Moon” to the entire third grade class at Clarence Farrington School 61.
“There were 300 kids there. I was surprised at first, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “Once I got in the gym, they were all loud and yelling and happy.”
As a quarterback, Walker is used to commanding attention and leading young men. And those skills paid off when he went back to school.
“I got some crazy questions,” he said. “I got a lot of, ‘What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite chip?’ It was nothing about the book. It was nothing about school.”
Like all the players, he made sure to leave them with some life advice.
“At the end, I just told them to enjoy the rest of the school year and be great students. Be in school and enjoy it while you can.”
For the Colts, being the face of the team is what they do.
Showing their face in the community is who they are.
And that’s what Community Monday is all about.
“You start the week fresh, you start it with something that’s bigger than you,” Farley said, “and I think that enables you to go out that following week and put your best forward knowing that you’re going to hit that reset button the next week.”