While the Indianapolis Colts‘ training camp has been something of a cavalcade of sad injuries, veteran Reggie Wayne (and his surgically repaired knee) have been the star of the show. His performance has fans giddy to the point that, assuming things stay their current course, by October it will be easy to forget that his career was ever in doubt.
But the next four weeks will be telling. Four preseason games. Four opportunities for coach Chuck Pagano to decide whether or not to put Wayne in a position to take hits. Wayne has already said that he doesn’t want to take his first hit in the season opener against the Denver Broncos, and that seems like a reasonable request. But with the injury luck the team has had so far in camp, Wayne’s health seems like an unnecessary risk.
About six weeks ago, Wayne said, “I plan on bringing some extra boxing gloves for me and Chuck, so whenever he tells me I can’t go, we’re going to lace them up.” Thus far there’s been no evidence of any intra-Colt boxing. Wayne’s been doing so well that people seem to have forgotten he ever mentioned it. But knowing Reggie, he probably literally has gloves ready to bring out at the first sign of resistance. He loves symbolism. He rode to camp in a race car to demonstrate his desire to “start fast” this season. He knows the power of these images, both for himself and for those watching.
This marks the third straight season involving symbolic gloves in the Wayne/Pagano relationship. Season one, Wayne very publicly wore orange gloves to show his support when Pagano was battling leukemia. Season two, and there wasn’t much made of this unless you read Pagano’s book Sidelined, Pagano gave those orange gloves back to Wayne after he tore his ACL as a reciprocal show of support.
Now they’re entering season three with boxing gloves in the back of their minds, and it makes for a potentially interesting shift. Pagano’s going to have to trust Wayne to know his limits, but there comes a point when a guy can want something too much. I wouldn’t mind seeing those boxing gloves come out once or twice in the next few weeks. Let rookie Donte Moncrief take a few of those hits instead.