THANKS, MOM

On Mother's Day, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell and Colts players discuss the importance of moms and their day.

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Caldwell, Colts Players Discuss Imance of Moms and Their Day

INDIANAPOLIS – Jacques McClendon is on the cusp of a dream.

And it's not as if being there is the first thing he has accomplished in a relatively short period of time. A rookie guard for the Colts, McClendon arrived at Colts 2010 rookie camp last weekend having earned his undergraduate degree and Master's in sports management from the University of Tennessee.

This, he attained in four years.

An impressive resume, without question, and it's pertinent this weekend of all weekends because McClendon said there's one person without whom it couldn't have happened.

His mother.

"My mother and I are real close," McClendon, a Tennessee graduate and a fourth-round selection by the Colts in the April 22-24 NFL Draft, said during last weekend's 2010 Colts rookie camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

"She's done a lot for me. I want to succeed but I also want to see the fruits of my labor of what she's done for me. We're real close. She's a great person."

McClendon's far from the only Colts players or coach who credits their mother with their success, and as Mother's Day – Sunday, May 9 – approached, some discussed the influence of their mother on their careers, and as importantly, their lives.

Among those people:

Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell, who after a collegiate playing career at Iowa and more than three decades in professional and college coaching, said the influence of his mother, Mary, remains strong.

"It's a great thing, first of all, that I can say, 'She is,' because she's still living," Caldwell said. "She's exactly the same as I remember her growing up. She's very steady – a hard worker. She pushed us to make sure we understood the value of an education. She's a strong Christian, and she set an unbelievable example for us in every single way."

Caldwell said in his mother's case, love meant being strong.

"Certainly, she loved us and sometimes, that included tough love," he said, smiling. "My older sister, younger brother – all of us certainly benefited from it."

Caldwell said while his mother didn't mind her son playing a physical, violent sport, she didn't often attend games once he left for Iowa. He said it wasn't that she didn't like the games, but with alcohol often being consumed at college games, she preferred a different atmosphere.

"She didn't mind me playing," Caldwell said. "She didn't watch many games. In high school she would, and in college, she'd come sometime, but they served beer in the stands. She didn't like to be in a place where they might be spilling beer. I've never seen her in anything but a dress that came down to mid-calves – no pants, no shorts. The Pentecostal religion is very fundamental.

"She would come, but she would stay at the hotel in the room until we finished, and then we would go out to dinner. She was very, very supportive in terms of athletics. Track and field, basketball – she loved that, but the atmosphere once I went to college wasn't for her."

Caldwell said there are lessons learned from his mother that still guide him.

"No question about it," Caldwell said, adding that one such lesson came from singing with his sister and brother in a trio at a young age.

"I remember standing there at home," he said. "She made us stand tall and project with our voices – sing not from our throat, but from our diaphragm. They were all things that I didn't appreciate at the time, because sometimes it ended up being fairly late at night that we were practicing.

"But they were things that certainly things that made a huge difference in terms of having some sense of stage presence or some sense of posture for public speaking and things of that nature. After I grew up and had to do a few more of these things in terms of public speaking, I certainly feel that that was a great lesson.

"Sometimes, there are unintended consequences that are positive, and that was one."

That's the sort of lesson a younger generation of Colts say helped their mothers guide them as well.

"My mother means everything tome," Colts tight end Brody Eldridge, a fifth-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, said. "She was always there. Not one thing I do where she's not there for me."

So, how important is Mother's Day?

"It's a very important day," Eldridge said. "I don't know what we'll do for her, but every day she does something for us kids, so she definitely deserves something."

McClendon, like the rest of the Colts' rookie class, was scheduled to leave Indianapolis after the rookie camp, not to return until mid-May for organized training activities. During that time, he said he will attend graduation ceremonies, but he said Sunday will be for his mother, Stephanie, the person who helped him achieve what he has achieved thus far.

"She definitely stays on my butt and makes sure I'm on top of everything," McClendon said. "Without her pushing me, I probably wouldn't be out here today. That's for sure."

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