COLTS CENTER TRADES SUIT FOR UNIFORM
INDIANAPOLIS – Colts center Jeff Saturday was quite visible over the past four months in labor negotiations. He was quite viable as well, playing one of the key roles in helping bring a resolution to the lockout.
Now with the talks concluded, it is back to football for the 13-year pro, something he has been looking forward to, along with his teammates and counterparts around the NFL.
As he returns to the field, Saturday looked back one more time at the work that was concluded this past Monday.
"It was a lot of long and tedious moments, but overall (I'm) just glad it's done," said Saturday. "(I'm) glad to get football back where it belongs on the field in front of our fans. I think it goes a long way that we didn't have to miss anything. We missed some off-season but no preseason games or anything else, so I am excited about the way it all shook out."
As the talks ensued, Saturday became a very prominent face of the process. It was something in which he took pride.
"I am very glad that I was part of it. I worked as hard as I could for the men I represent," he said. "I believe it is a fair deal, and one that both players and owners will prosper under. Fans will get to see what they want, and that is labor peace for 10 years. There's a lot to be said for that. I am glad where it is, and I am glad to get back to playing football."
Being a key figure representing the 1,900 players around the league was a big role, and it was one Saturday tackled from the outset and pondered along the way.
"I learned a lot. There were a lot of things I went through," he said. "One of the main things I realized is when you are advocating for other people, how much of that comes back to your mind. When you lay awake at night, you think of things that are important – lifestyle and protecting guys' health for the future. That is what I really cared about. I want guys to be able to have longer careers and be able to be healthy when they walk away from this game. I feel like we are giving players that opportunity."
The work came at personal expense for Saturday. There were many hours and days that were tied to the cause. Saturday recognizes some very important support he got at home.
"I would do it again," he said. My wife (Karen), she was awesome during this whole thing. I have three kids who can be quite rambunctious during the summer time. For her to manage our house the way it was, (it) gave me a lot of ability to be focused when I got there."
The negotiations took Saturday to more boardrooms than weight rooms, still he did not neglect his approach to the game.
"I trained. Jon Torine and Rich Howell (the Colts' strength coaches) do a great job of giving us our workouts and what we need to do each and every week, so I was fully prepared. I worked out on a regular schedule wherever we did stay," said Saturday. "No matter what obscure hotel, I made sure it had facilities that I could work out in. I got it all in. I have done what I would normally do during the off-season. I am fully prepared, ready to get back and excited to get back to it."
Earlier this week, Saturday came in for praise for his contributions and comportment from Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay.
"In truth, I think this process really worked well," said Irsay. "Certainly, I think all Colts fans can be especially proud of Jeff Saturday. I know he and I had long talks before the (2010) season had ended and we really talked about going through and having tough negotiations, but really focusing. Me saying to him, 'You'll be working at it. I'll be working at it, but let's get something done and not miss any games. Let's be aware of the fans and our game. What a great job he did, obviously, in representing all players, but certainly the Colts and Indianapolis, Indiana."
Head coach Jim Caldwell was an interested spectator during the negotiations, too. He was proud of how Saturday conducted himself as a representative of the Colts.
"He's a quality guy, one of the absolute finest gentlemen in the business," said Caldwell. "He is a hard worker, great leader, and very intelligent guy. We appreciate the way he represented the players, but also our organization and our league. All the reports we got, he did a tremendous job and we are certainly happy to have him on our team."