Joe Reitz is Colts' Nominee for 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year

On Wednesday afternoon, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano introduced offensive lineman Joe Reitz as the team’s nominee for the NFL’s 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

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On Wednesday afternoon, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano introduced offensive lineman Joe Reitz as the team's nominee for the NFL's 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

Calling him "the epitome of a great teammate and person," Pagano said he couldn't think of anyone more deserving of the league's highest honor.

"He's got a family of his own, but he gives a tremendous amount of his time and efforts, just everything that he has and is about is giving back to his community," he said.

For Reitz, Indianapolis is home. He grew up in Fishers and played high school football at Hamilton Southeastern.

"I love this city. I love this state. I love this organization. I grew up a huge Colts fan," he said.

It's a dream come true for any kid to play for the team he grew up cheering for. But Reitz didn't exactly have a dream start to his NFL career. His path went through Baltimore and Miami before it led him back home to Indiana.

The Indianapolis Colts have named tackle/guard Joe Reitz the Colts Man of the Year for his outstanding efforts in the community. He will serve as the team's nominee for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

"I think humbling is the biggest word," he said. "I was a guy that was on and off the practice squad and on the practice squad for three years. I've been cut five times throughout my career and I've been fortunate to stick here in Indy."

He said he's also been fortunate to play with some great guys – like Matt Birk in Baltimore and Jeff Saturday and Ryan Diem in Indy – guys who taught him how to be a professional on and off the field.

"They always talked about, 'When you leave this game, your impact shouldn't just be on this field between the lines. It should be in the community in giving back and serving.' And that's something that those three men taught me that I've tried to emulate throughout my career."

One of the organizations he's active in, All Pro Dad, was started by former Colts head coach Tony Dungy and assistant coach Clyde Christensen.

As a family guy, Reitz credits his wife, Jill, for supporting him and their family so that he can support others.

"We've got three kids at home under five and a fourth on the way," he said. "So, it's chaos all the time at home and she does an unbelievable job of holding the fort down so that I can go out and serve and give back to the community."

An inspiration to his teammates, the guy who struggled to find a team and a place on it found a home with his hometown team – and is now being honored with its most prestigious award.   

"I came here in 2010 and I've been very fortunate and blessed to be able to stay with this team the last seven years. It's a first class organization," he said. "It really makes it fun to come to work every day knowing the type of environment and culture you're in."

Today, it's Joe Reitz who's showing the younger players how to be a horseshoe guy.

"Being from here, I know that it's important for all of the men in that locker room to go out and serve this great community. But for me, growing up here, every time I get the chance to go out and talk to kids or go visit a school or help somebody out, it's even more special for me."

And it's a little more special for them too.

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