INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 15, 2016) – After 14 seasons, 232 games and one world championship, Reggie Wayne has decided enough is enough.
His final ‘go’ route leads one of the most popular and productive players in Indianapolis Colts history into retirement.
“I think so, bro, yeah,’’ Wayne said Friday in a phone interview. “Yeah, I’m done.”
“It was fun, but it’s time. It’s just time. Whenever you can admit that you’re done, you know you’re done.’’
Wayne, 37, is expected to make an official announcement in the next few weeks, but he was alternately reflective and at peace with his decision during a lengthy conversation.
Any hesitancy he might have had about walking away from the NFL evaporated when he attended the Colts’ 25-12 win over Tampa Bay Nov. 29 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Rather than being on the sideline with his teammates and involved in the game, Wayne sat and watched. It was the first time he experienced an NFL game when he wasn’t under contract since he attended Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa while he still was at the University of Miami.
“I finally turned into a fan, a real fan,’’ Wayne said. “You know me, I’ve got my adult beverage. I’m eating some popcorn. I’m watching fans’ reactions. I’m watching the Jumbotron.”
“I’m literally enjoying the game without having to do all the thinking.’’
“I thought that was the final notch for me,’’ he said. “I felt like I needed that to help get me over that hump. A lot of guys who go to games come away and say, ‘You know what? I can still do that.’ But I needed that to realize, ‘You know what? This ain’t half bad.’’’
Speculation of Wayne’s retirement has swirled since the end of the 2014 season, his last with the Colts. His productivity diminished as he dealt with a torn triceps and groin injury. In 2013, Wayne missed the final nine games after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
On March 6, the team announced it wouldn’t re-sign their No. 2 all-time leading receiver, whose contract was expiring.
Wayne considered free-agent offers from other teams, and even spent a short period of time in training camp with the New England Patriots.
But deep down, he knew it was time.
The transition has been smooth. Wayne has picked up a new hobby – he’s a cyclist who pedals 20-25 miles three times a week – and enjoys being Mr. Mom to his three sons.
“I go to parent-teacher conferences now,’’ he said with a laugh. “I go to karate class, (do) pick ups after school, get to meet other parents, which I’m not too comfortable with.”
“That’s where I am now. I’m enjoying it and my family is enjoying having me home so much.’’
As Wayne settles into a life without the NFL, he isn’t hesitant to look back at the footprints he left after being selected 30th overall in the 2001 draft.
His 1,070 receptions rank No. 7 in NFL history while his 14,345 yards rank No. 8 and his 82 touchdowns No. 23. Only Marvin Harrison was more productive in franchise history (1,102, 14,580 and 128, respectively).
“Marv was the best to do it,’’ Wayne said. “So to be right there underneath him and within reaching distance, that’s when you know you did something right.’’
Wayne was at his best in 21 postseason games. His 93 receptions are No. 2 to Jerry Rice and his 1,254 yards rank No. 4. Wayne piled up 221 yards against Denver in a 2004 wild-card playoff game, the fourth-highest total in league history. One of his nine TDs was a 53-yarder against Chicago that kick-started the Colts’ 29-17 win over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI after the ’06 season.
He established two franchise records that might stand the test of time: 211 regular-season games and 143 wins. It’s only a matter of time before owner Jim Irsay adds Wayne’s name to the Ring of Honor.
Wayne walks away with no regrets, no What ifs?
“When I look at it, what else did I have to prove?’’ he said. “In my mind, I never got as much pub as a lot of other guys, and that’s fine. I don’t care. You know what? Numbers don’t lie. People do, but numbers don’t lie.”
“It’s not been too bad, man. There’s been thousands and thousands and thousands of people who played before me and there’s going to be thousands and thousands and thousands who play after me.”
“For me to be in that mix, man, that’s not too bad. I played against the elite of the elite, the best of the best. I was able to crack the top 10 of this and the top 10 of that, and be one of the best in franchise history.”
“Man, not too many people can say that.’’