The free agent era in professional sports has made being a fan of a particular player difficult, especially if you show fierce loyalty to a particular team. When a long-time player leaves one team for contract reasons or because the team is moving on, it can be an emotional experience for fans. But from time to time, a player and team will reunite after parting ways, and bring some happy closure to everyone.
Jeff Saturday played for the Indianapolis Colts for 13 years, and was essentially the personal center for Peyton Manning during his Hall of Fame career with the same team. When the Colts parted ways with Manning, they also said goodbye to his long-time center, Saturday.
While Manning went on to do great things with the Denver Broncos in 2012, Saturday traveled north to join the Green Bay Packers, but with much less success. Saturday had an up and down season with the Packers, finally ending with him being benched on Dec. 21, and didn’t start again for the team.
Despite his poor season, Saturday was selected as the back-up center for the NFC in the annual Pro Bowl Game. It was there that Saturday announced his retirement, and was allowed to stand on the AFC side of the ball to give one final snap to his longtime friend and quarterback, Peyton Manning.
A few days ago, the Colts signed Saturday to a one-day contract so that he could retire as an Indianapolis Colt. There are a lot of folks who say that Colts owner Jim Irsay is one of the oddest owners in the NFL, but he has shown time and time again that he’s an owner that truly cares about his players and coaches on a very deep and personal level.
Truth be told, Saturday probably should have retired after the 2011 season, and just let it go. But he wanted to give it one more shot to see what he had left in the tank–which apparently wasn’t much. The Colts didn’t hold this against him or treat him as an outsider once he left. They welcomed him back as a member of the family to be remembered always as a Colt.
During his 14-year NFL career, Saturday played in 211 games, starting 202 of them. He was a tremendous part of the Colts success, including their Super Bowl championship season, and it’s only fitting that he be allowed to retire as a Colt.