On Wednesday night, it was announced that Colts' legends defensive end Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Reggie Wayne were selected as modern-era finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2024.
With this being his fifth straight year being a finalist, Wayne admitted that while he felt honored, he knew better than to get too excited.
"I thought the first year could have been the year," Wayne said when speaking with the media on Thursday. "But it's already written. It's like my mom used to tell me about Jesus, he may not come when you want him but he's always on time."
In his 14 seasons with the Colts, he amassed 1,070 receptions and 14,345 receiving yards, which both rank 10th all-time. He's also one of only 10 players to have at least 1,000 receptions and 14,000 receiving yards in a career. It also doesn't hurt that he was a major contributor in the Colts' Super Bowl XLI 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears.
"Even when I was playing, I never thought I would be in this situation. I'm just playing ball," Wayne said. "I'm just playing ball. After it was all said and done, you sit back, and I remember driving from Foxborough in my Jeep Cherokee driving 95-South and I'm sitting back and thinking about everything I accomplished. You put everything in perspective, and you say, 'You did some cool stuff,' you know what I'm saying? 'You did some stuff that a lot of people can't even fathom.' You sit back and you smile, you pay your toll at the SunPass, and you keep moving."
He joins Torry Holt and Andre Johnson as the only other wide receivers to make it this far in the process. While Wayne lauded praise for both players and the success they had, he said what sets him apart is what he was able to do in the postseason.
"All those other guys that are in there and finalists like these dudes – everybody is deserving, everybody has put the work in, everybody is good, right," Wayne said. "These dudes are one of the best, but if I had to answer that, I guess you would say playoffs. That matters, right?"
|Number of Postseason Games
To the detractors who try to downplay Wayne's argument due to the fact he had more opportunities to compete in the postseason than his peers, he said he has a message for them too.
"I get it, everybody don't make the playoffs - you're bad," Wayne said. "Playoffs, which is important. I've got a whole season's worth of playoff numbers, over 1,000-something yards in playoff numbers, 80-something catches in playoff numbers. That's a whole season that doesn't count towards my numbers. I just think the games that matter, the games that matter – did that person or player show up? I like to think that I did."
Wayne and the other 14 finalists will have to wait until February to learn whether or not they will be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Modern Era Class of 2024. In the meantime, Wayne will have plenty of things to keep him occupied, namely his job as the Colts' wide receivers coach.
"I'm trying to figure out how we can win this game," Wayne said. "You got a hungry [Las Vegas] Raiders team that's playing for their coach [Antonio Pierce] and they're coming and trying to destroy everything, you know what I'm saying? So, the Hall of Fame stuff it will take care of itself.
"I'm all locked in, man. We got something as a team that we can accomplish. That was the thing, try to find a way to get into the playoffs. Now, the division is not out of our sight. So, we got a lot of stuff to play for."
But he admits that if he does end up getting the call that he's getting into the Hall of Fame, he's going to live it up.
"Oh, it's gonna be a party, Wayne said. "It's gonna be a celebration. I mean, it's gonna be fun times. That's why I keep telling everybody - they're like 'Man, this is your year. You're gonna get in.' And I say, 'Look, you'll know when I get in, it'd be a party.' And if I'm still coaching, best believe I'm gonna be absent for a little while."