INDIANAPOLIS —Needing a big play after getting down early in Super Bowl XLI, the Indianapolis Colts dialed up a play for big-play wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
Wayne, playing in the same city in which he became his college's all-time leading receiver at the University of Miami, shook Chicago Bears safety Danieal Manning and broke wide open down the left side of the field, where he was delivered a high, wobbly pass from quarterback Peyton Manning, who was able to escape danger, step up in the pocket and get off a throw with a defender draped around his waist.
Sometimes they say the wide-open catches are the most difficult ones to make, but this was the least of Wayne's worries on this particular play, in which a heavy South Florida rain was invading his facemask, making it extremely hard to track the ball and make the catch.
We all know by now how this one ended. Wayne was able to overcome the elements to make the catch at the 15-yard line and sprint into the end zone to complete the 53-yard touchdown play and tie the game just past the midway point in the first quarter, propelling the Colts to their first Super Bowl title in Indy, 29-17, over the Bears.
It was the signature play in what would be an excellent career for Wayne, who will undoubtedly be Hall of Fame-bound within the next decade.
But before Canton comes calling, Wayne will first be inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor at Lucas Oil Stadium, news the team announced on Tuesday. The ceremony will come during a 2018 home game that is yet to be determined.
Wayne talked about that honor, his Super Bowl catch, playing with Manning, being snubbed in the NFL Draft and much, much more this week on The Dave Dameshek Football Program on NFL.com. You can listen to the entire hour-plus-long interview by clicking here, but here are some of the highlights:
On Wayne's reaction to being inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor:"I'm blessed to be in there, man. It's the elite of the elite in Colts history. … You see, I'm finally cemented into Indianapolis — the state of Indiana. I'm in there. No taking me out."
On the Colts hiring Frank Reich to be their next head coach:"I love it. I love everything about it. Frank was my receiver coach one year in my career in 2011. The guy, he's big on details. He is big on details — I repeat that — and that's what they need. They need somebody that's going to make you tune in and stick to the techniques and fundamentals and make you work over and over again. So I know one thing about Coach Frank: you can't get bored. You cannot get bored. Because he's that type of coach that's going to make you go over it … repetitive. Just over and over again, until you maximize that particular situation. So I love everything about it. I'm excited for it, I think he's ready, he knows what Colts is all about, and plus he's played the game; he understands it. So he'll be able to help a healthy Andrew Luck out during that process."
On whether he'd take Andrew Luck's arm strength over Peyton Manning's:"It's kind of hard to tell. Because, you've got Peyton's last four or five years engraved in your head right now. But when I first got to Indianapolis, Peyton could throw 65 yards. … It may not be a spiral — he throws the deepest duck I have ever seen. But it gets there, and it's accurate."
On Wayne's ability to make big plays in the postseason:"To me, that's what mattered. … That's what mattered to me. That's big games. That's what you call pressure. That's what I wanted. Third downs, playoff games — that's when I said, 'Hey, this is when Reggie Wayne's name is going to matter. Not on Week 3, Week 4.' You know, those crucial games, those games that count — and believe it or not, those games that don't count toward your stats, but that's the ones that count."
On the Colts' rivalry with the New England Patriots, and not initially being able to get over that hump:"They were our kryptonite. We just couldn't find a way to beat these guys, and they were a good team — they were good — but it was some kind of way every time we played them, we played our worse ball. … I don't know, whether it was weather and we were in Foxboro — I don't know. It's just we played our worst game and we'd get behind, and I just think we panicked. I think we panicked, I think we try to play to them and not let them play us, you know what I mean? And then when you get behind on the Patriots there's not very many teams that's going to (come back). … For one, it was always the Manning/Brady Bowl, no matter if it was a playoff game or it was a regular season game. So you know those two games, they're going to try to go at it. It may be a soft defense and you're supposed to run the ball, but those guys, they're going to throw it."
On the 2006 AFC Championship game and the big comeback over the Patriots:"We were down 21-3 … and you know what we were saying? 'Here we go again.' … We went into halftime, and Coach Dungy stood up there and said — this is funny — he's clapping his hands, and he says, 'That's alright guys. We got them right where we want them.' What? We're down 21-3. He said, 'We're going to get the ball first in the second half, and we're going to score. We're going to stop them on defense…' I mean, because we've seen this happen so many times, it was like a rerun of all the other years, you know? So we walk into halftime, at home, and we're like, 'Damn. Here we go again, man. Like, these dudes have found a way to come in here,' because normally, between us and New England during those years it was all who got homefield advantage. We finally got them at home and we're laying an egg. But Coach Dungy, he finds a way — in the weirdest ways; it ain't yelling — he just comes in, he says, 'We got them right where we want them. This is our time.' And it's almost like he knew what was going to happen. Everything that he said, happened in the second half. We went out there and scored, we stopped them on defense, we got the ball back, we scored again, and all of a sudden … 21-17. And that's when you say, 'You know what? It's our time.'"
On his Super Bowl touchdown catch against the Bears:"Well, you mention the rain — it was pouring down rain. I mean, it wasn't just drizzle — I mean, it was raining hard, to the point to where it was almost hard to see the ball in the air. But we're in the huddle — which we hardly huddled — but we're in the huddle, and we call a double-move, we call it in and up, 16-yard in route and up. We wanted to get Daniel Manning to bite on the in route. And I'm looking, I'm like, 'Man, he's calling this for me. OK!' In Miami, I went to the University of Miami — OK, this is perfect. But I'm like: I don't know if I really want this, 'cause it's pouring down raining. And then at the same time, a lot of times when they call those double-moves like that, you practice them in practice all the time and you tell the scout team guy, 'Bite on the in route so we can make this play work.' … It's not going to trick anybody. But we run it, and I'm thinking like, 'He's not going to fall for it, so (Manning's) going to maybe throw a check down to Dominic Rhodes or Joseph Addai.' But Daniel Manning, he bit on it before I even ran it. Like, what are you doing? And I don't even finish my in cut because it was so wide open, I just turn up. And I'm running, running, and I see Peyton — I can actually see him shake off a guy, which ended up, I think, Tank Johnson, and he throws it. And I knew that, in the middle of that, I'm like, 'I think they busted a coverage,' because Peanut Tillman, he didn't run with me. So he's playing Cover 2, and I think Daniel Manning was kind of playing Cover 3 or something, Cover 4, when he bit down … and I'm like, 'Oh lord, here's this ball in the air.' … It was the hardest catch of my career. … It's Peyton Manning, it's never a good ball. … Listen: it's never a good ball. But it's going to be accurate, and it's going to be catchable — it's going to be a duck, but it's going to be catchable. But it was up there forever, in slow motion. And I kind of lost where everybody was at: I didn't know how close Daniel Manning was, I didn't know if Peanut Tillman caught up to me. I was just trying not to drop this ball. I don't care if I got tackled, I don't care if I fell on it and couldn't get up. I just wanted to catch this ball, and I didn't know whether to catch it with my hands, my chest — if you look at it, I actually caught the ball … right on my hip, because it was coming in wobbly, right? It was coming in wobbly, and the rain and all that stuff, and I'm trying to see, I'm trying to focus, and I didn't know how to gauge it, and I just caught it on my hip. I tried to bring everything I could into it, and when I caught it, I just turned around and I just ran as fast as I could. And when I look at it to this day, there's nobody around me."
On falling all the way to the 30th-overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft with the Colts after the Miami Dolphins had already called to say they were picking him, but didn't follow through:"I'm saying to myself, 'I'm not even going to make this first round.' Because during the Combine and the Senior Bowl, I talked to every team — except one. The one team I didn't talk to: Indianapolis Colts. So I'm like, it's the Colts and then it's the Ravens, and I'm like: 'I know the Ravens; they don't need no receiver.' I'm about to have the horse face — the long face — going into the second round. … I got the Horseshoe. The 317 (area code) comes up. But now, mind you, 317 comes up on my cell phone, I'm answering … at first, when the Dolphins called me, I'm like, 'Hello? Hello? Yeah, Yeah!' Now, you know, the Colts call me, and it's Jim Mora, and he's like,'Hey, is this Reggie?' 'Yeah, what? What do you want?' So he was like, 'We're going to draft you. We're going to pick you. We're excited to have you as a Colt. Are you happy about that?' I say, 'Coach, with all due respect, I've been down this road before. I'll be happy when he walks across that stage and gets to that microphone and says my name.' He says, 'Well, fine, we can stay on the phone until he does it.' And he went up there and, 'With the 30th pick in the NFL Draft, the Colts select Reggie Wayne,' and that's when everybody went nuts. … He said, 'I told you.' He said, 'Man, we're excited to have you in and help us score some points. We need the help.' I'm like, 'Coach, I appreciate this opportunity. I promise I won't let you down. I can't wait to get there,' right? He's like, 'OK, well perfect. We're going to send a plane to come and get you.' And I say, 'Wait — can I come tomorrow, coach? … We've got a lot of people here, man.' And he heard the noise, he's like, 'That's no problem. Early in the morning, we'll come and grab you and we'll spend the day together,' and all that stuff. And that's what happened."