INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Think back to your favorite Colts' memory and chances are, Gary Brackett was part of it.
Brackett became a fan favorite with the Colts over a nine year career that included a Super Bowl victory and a Super Bowl defeat. But his story is about more than football.
"I never wanted football to be my identity. Every conversation I had was football, football, football. Guys I played with, 'you remember that game, dude?' I got three kids, I got other stuff I'm involved with, it can't be all about football,” said Brackett.
Gary Brackett took a drive recently to talk about the Colts and life after the NFL.
"I said when I got in I wanted to play 10 years and have 10 surgeries. I played nine years and had eight surgeries,” said Brackett.
Brackett’s injury history informed his views on the biggest story surrounding the Colts this year. He understood better than most when Andrew Luck decided to retire so suddenly.
"I was just amazed but I said, 'Man, I get it, it's a violent game.' Saw the list of injuries he had in a short career and to be honest, that's the list of many players. Your head has to be in there and if your head is not there, it’s not going to be beneficial for you or the team. He did what was good for him, the timing wasn't great, but look at us now."
If Andrew Luck’s career came to an unlikely end, Gary Brackett’s had an unlikely beginning. A walk-on at Rutgers who became team captain, he was a hard working undrafted free agent who quickly became the captain of the defense.
"Everyone says it. ‘Oh, I work hard.’ Extra sprints? ‘ Nah, I'm not an early person.’ I just think for me demonstrating the fact that I work hard on a consistent basis, I think that had guys believe in me and made me the captain,” said Brackett.
But tragedy shaped Brackett’s life as much as persistence. He lost his father, his mother and his brother to illness in less than two years at the start of his career. It gave him a perspective few can know.
“But the fact that I was able to work every day it just makes feel invincible, not that I can get away with anything, but that anything can happen and I can survive,” said Brackett.
Brackett used his perspective to become an entrepreneur. He got his MBA after he retired and now runs 10 Stacked Pickle restaurants with hopes of franchising even more. In business, just like in football, Brackett has experienced defeat along with victory. He even closed some of his restaurants early on. He’s overcome adversity on every playing field he’s appear on.
"I'm thankful for the career I had, but I'm thankful I was able to walk away from the game and now make an impact with what I'm doing."