INDIANAPOLIS – Colts history was made today when Matt Overton was named to a Pro Bowl squad as a long-snapper.
Colts Pro Bowl special teamers in the past have been punters, kickers and returners, but never someone who performs the task of Overton.
"It's a pretty surreal feeling, quite an honor. When I got word, I couldn't believe it," said Overton. "It's always been a dream of mine to solidify myself as one of the best in the league. To get that recognition from the (Carolina) Panthers' coaching staff was pretty awesome.
"To be able to represent the Colts there is amazing. I really wish we were still playing and working toward the Super Bowl, but this is an awesome honor for me and my family. I'm excited and thankful."
Discovered in 2012 in a free agent kicking camp, Overton was no neophyte. The Western Washington product had 2007 and 2010 free agent tryouts with Seattle. Those were sandwiched around stints in the af2 (2008) and UFL (2009), and Overton played in the UFL in 2010.
Those trails led him to Indianapolis and, after two playoff seasons, onto Honolulu.
"A little more than two years ago, I was cut from a UFL team," said Overton. "I was uncertain if I had a future in football. It still was a dream of mine.
"To be released by a minor league team it was, 'Which NFL team would take a chance on me?' I'm not young either. I came into the NFL at age 27. It was perseverance, faith and hard work.
"Coach (Brant) Boyer saw me in a camp in Arizona and brought me in for a workout. It was an uphill battle from there competing with Justin Snow, who had been here a long time and done such a great job for a decade."
Overton unseated Snow and got two highlights right off the bat. In the 2012 preseason at Pittsburgh, he snapped as Adam Vinatieri booted the longest field goal ever made to the open end of Heinz Field.
In week two, he was a battery mate as Vinatieri hit a 53-yard field goal to beat Minnesota. It was the longest of Vinatieri's 24 game-winning kicks.
A native of California's Bay Area, this game will hold additional meaning.
"The format for the Pro Bowl is Deion Sanders is the coach of one team and Jerry Rice is the other team," said Overton. "I grew up a 49ers fan, and Jerry Rice was my favorite player to watch growing up. Deion Sanders was a 49er during that time, too.
"To be in the locker room with those guys and be selected to one of their teams is pretty cool.
The Pro Bowl is on January 26, one week prior to the Super Bowl.
"To have the recognition is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Overton. To be playing with the best-of-the-best is pretty cool. To be with the Peyton Manning's, the Tom Brady's, whoever, it's cool, and I'm excited to represent the Colts."
MATHIS HONORED TWICE ON WEDNESDAY – Robert Mathis, already a Pro Bowler, the Deacon Jones Award winner and a serious candidate for NFL Defensive Player-of-the-Year honors with a league-high 19.5 sacks, was cited twice more on Wednesday.
Mathis is the recipient of the AFC Defensive Player-of-the-Year for the 101 Awards gala in Kansas City on March 1.
Mathis is a first-time winner who carries on an Indianapolis legacy of award recipients that includes Chuck Pagano, Bruce Arians, Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy and Dwight Freeney. This prestigious award group is in its 44th year.
Also, Mathis was selected to the USA Football All-Fundamentals Team that honors 26 players – 11 offense, 11 defense, four special teamers – who play with exemplary techniques that are ideal for younger players to learn.
A five-person committee selects the team, and Antoine Bethea is among past Indianapolis recipients.