INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis gave Jeff Saturday a chance to fulfill his NFL dream.
On Thursday, he came back to thank the town and the team that embraced his improbable journey from undrafted free agent to NFL star.
Moments after signing his final contract with the Colts, Indy's longtime center and a key figure in forging a settlement to the 2011 NFL lockout officially retired with the team that brought him into the league 14 years ago.
"This does not happen for many players, especially many offensive linemen," Saturday said. "I'm excited to retire as a Colt. I mean, this is my home. This is what we've supported for so many years. I was known, no matter what team I was playing for, as a Colt. So it's good to put that horseshoe on and go out that way."
Colts fans will always remember Saturday for his gritty play and down-to-earth attitude. Nationally, he will forever be known as the voice of reason during the contentious lockout negotiations. Saturday lobbied on behalf of the players he represented and constantly urged both sides to remember that they would be best served by reaching a settlement rather than losing the "golden goose."
After the two sides agreed to a 10-year collective bargaining agreement, Saturday's embrace of Patriots owner Robert Kraft became an memorable image of labor peace. Kraft had just finished speaking about his wife, Myra, who died during the negotiations, when Saturday put aside Indy's bitter rivalry with New England, hugged Kraft and then credited him for "saving football."