During the week of the Pro Bowl, center Jeff Saturday announced he would retire from the NFL, leading to a very cool moment in the game when Pro Bowl opponent and longtime former teammate, Peyton Manning, took one last snap from Saturday. The 14-year veteran officially will retire as a member of the Colts.
As such, Saturday talked with Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz to look back at his time in Indianapolis. And when Kravitz asked him if he had any regrets, Saturday thought back to the 2009 season.
You'll recall that version of the Colts were 14-0. But instead of going for a perfect season, the team rested its top personnel in the final two games, lost both of them and ended up falling in the Super Bowl to the Saints. Saturday wished the decision-making progress would have led to another conclusion.
“That's the only thing I wish we would have done differently,” Saturday told Kravitz. “I was in favor of [playing] but, obviously, I got out-voted [by management]. When we pulled everybody and just let it go by the wayside and ended up losing [to the Jets], that was a great opportunity we had. As a player, perfection is the highest goal you can reach. And we were so close.”
At the time, then-coach Jim Caldwell took his fair share of the blame for deciding to shut down the effort with two games left in the season. But the Terre Haute Tribune Star's Tom James gives us some perspective.
Interesting fans continue to blame Jim Caldwell for sitting players during undefeated season. It was Bill Polian's decision. He ran show.— Tom James (@TribStarTJames) March 7, 2013
Caldwell went along. Didn't mean that he agreed. But it was Polian's decision. And if JIrsay wanted team to go for it, they would have.— Tom James (@TribStarTJames) March 7, 2013
Regardless of who is to blame -- and who knows, maybe it helped the team; the Colts, after all, reached the Super Bowl that year -- Saturday can look back fondly at his career. But he also knows it was time to end it.
“I just didn't enjoy it as much, and that's when I knew,” Saturday said. “I always told my wife, ‘Look, when it's not fun, that's when I'm going to know it's time.' I just wasn't as energetic about it.
“And my toe was hurting. Other parts of my body were hurting. I've been so fortunate in my career with my body and injuries, I didn't want to end up hurting myself further and end up leaving the game broken down and hurting more than you might hurt naturally from playing a long time in the league. I'm totally at peace with the decision. I think it's the perfect time. I never would have foreseen going out in this great a fashion. For a center, it just doesn't happen like this.”
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