INDIANAPOLIS — "Coming from a small school, it's difficult to get your name out there, get the name recognition and get the exposure you need. It's been a long path for me to reach Indianapolis. I spent some time in the UFL and the A2 and Arena Football to prepare myself for the opportunity and get the exposure I needed. It definitely paid off. The hard work continues for sure."
That quote came from Matt Overton in September 2012.
From that moment until his release from the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, Overton never stopped working —
Colts long snapper, Matt Overton, surprised a group of Riley kids with tickets to a Carrie Underwood concert.
on and off the field.
And though his time in Indianapolis as the Colts' long snapper appears over for now, Overton took to Twitter to show he's neither ungrateful nor bitter.
"Forever thankful," Overton wrote in his tweet, followed by a lengthy message to the Colts organization, his teammates and fans. "Blessed to have been a Colt. My heart will always be here in Indy."
Overton didn't start long snapping until high school, but it was in college where he really began to hit his stride. He found a spot on the Western Washington roster — snapping to future NFL punter Michael Koenen — and then definitely paid his dues as he tried to carve out a professional career from there, snapping in the UFL and in Arena Football.
The Seattle Seahawks gave him a shot on a couple occasions, prior to the 2007 and 2010 seasons, but he never caught on.
Then, finally, in the spring of 2012, the Colts came calling, but Overton — at the time collecting unemployment checks and sleeping on couches — had to compete with longtime long snapper Justin Snow for the position.
By final cuts, however, the job was all Overton's.
"I'm really looking forward to helping this team win and helping stabilize the special teams, helping it be one of the best in the league," Overton said at the time. "I want to maintain the standard Justin left here as the long snapper. I'm really excited."
With Overton delivering crisp, accurate snaps, Indianapolis quickly developed into one of the best, if not the best, special teams units in the NFL. With Pat McAfee handling punting and kickoff duties, and future Hall of Famer Adam Vinatieri hitting field goals and extra points, the three eventually became affectionately known as the Colts' "Fourth Down Army."
Overton came into his own as an NFL long snapper, and in January 2014, was named to the Pro Bowl.
"The path that I took to get here is pretty incredible. A lot of, faith and patience," Overton said at the time. "Just a little over two years ago, I was kind of just bouncing around, cut from a UFL team and didn't really think there was a future for me in the NFL.
"To get the Pro Bowl nod, is just a huge honor."
While Overton's on-the-field presence was a major reason for the Colts' success the past few seasons, he has also become one of the team's most dedicated community men, consistently showing up at team charitable functions and taking on his own endeavors; perhaps most notably being a constant presence for patients and their families at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
A son of a 31-year police veteran, Overton also has been a major supporter of local and state law enforcement, and has indicated an interest in looking into a possible career in the field when his playing days are done.
One might imagine, however, that Overton's NFL journey isn't quite over. Quality long snappers — especially those who have earned Pro Bowl honors — aren't exactly a dime a dozen, and as soon as another team gives him a chance, you know Overton will try to take advantage of the situation, just as he did back in 2012.
"Determined as ever to earn another opportunity," he wrote Monday.
What Overton meant to the Colts and the local community was not lost on his head coach.
"In his five seasons with the Colts, Matt evolved into a tremendous professional and a selfless teammate," said Head Coach Chuck Pagano. "He made an enormous impact on this community and touched the lives of many individuals. His dedication to the game on and off the field is an outstanding example for any player in this league. Matt has a bright future and I wish him the best moving forward."
Overton's entire note can be found below:
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