INDIANAPOLIS – The last time Jim Irsay picked up a pen to sign a paper with Jeff Saturday’s name on it, the price was a little more expensive.
That was in 2009 when the center signed a three-year, 13 million dollar contract with the Colts that included a 7.45 million dollar signing bonus. It wasn’t far from his mind as he once again grabbed a pen to ink another deal with the player who was literally the centerpiece of his offense for 13 years.
But this time, of course, the deal lasted just 24 hours.
“This is not costing me anything,” joked Irsay as he began to but his name on the document. “And that’s rare but Jeff did ask for a new pickup truck so I told him I would consider that.”
Saturday might not hold him to that considering that Saturday’s terms were only for ceremony as the center called it a career after 14 seasons. All but one of those came as a member of the Colts (2012 he was with the Packers) and included six Pro Bowls along with two Associated Press All-Pro first team selections.
His wife Karen and three children joined him for the 15 minute speech in which he thanked everyone in the organization from the equipment managers to the trainers.
“This does not happen for many players, especially many offensive linemen,” said Saturday of the retirement ceremony and his chance to sign a one-day contract with the club. “I’m truly grateful and humbled for this opportunity.”
Yet Saturday can say that in both the past and present tense. His playing career has come to an end but not the one with the Colts, where he will continue on with the club working with community activities.
“An ambassador for the franchise,” said Irsay of Saturday’s title with the club. “We’ll see where it goes from there. He may have an interest eventually in coaching, may have an interest in even becoming a general manager.”
Such an opportunity is one that Saturday could have had a year ago when he was mulling retirement or free agency. According to the center, it was actually the owner who delayed a position like this for another year as he encouraged Saturday to play even if it meant leaving Indianapolis.
“I’ll be very frank, Mr. Irsay even last year when I was debating to keep playing or go on he said, ‘Listen, if it’s still in your heart, you should go somewhere where you feel like you have the best chance.’,” said Saturday. “That’s the kind of owner he is. He was always encouraging, if it wasn’t in his best interest or he may have wanted something different.
“He would always lay himself aside and ask, he’d say, ‘Hey go play, get it done.’”
Saturday followed the advice and played for the Packers in 2012 but didn’t finish the season as the starting center. After being named the backup center for the Pro Bowl Saturday announced his retirement and plans have him rejoin the Colts in some capacity began.
Knowing the franchise in and out having spent over a decade with them as a player, coming back was an easy decision.
“This organization is what I hope all the NFL teams strive to be,” said Saturday of the Colts. “In every negotiation I was involved with the PA (players association) and the NFL, I used us (the Colts) as an example of what you should strive to and I make no bones about it.
“This organization is the best in the business and it will continue.”
Over the next few years time will tell how far Saturday can go in the organization and if he could reach the upper management. One of his former teammates Ryan Diem, who was among those in the audience for the retirement ceremony, won’t rule anything out.
“He’s definitely got the chops for it. He knows the game, he knows what it takes to be a good leader and how to put together a talented group. We’ve been through it, we lived it. The time we had here was an unbelievable run and he saw a well-managed team.
“You never know, it could turn out for him.”For the time being, however, Saturday will keep his eyes on the Colts team that he never really left even while playing in Green Bay.”I watched what they did last year all the time and I’m excited about it,” said Saturday. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet (Andrew) Luck and some of the guys that I have relationships with anyway. It’s incredible.”This train is just starting to get rolling. I’m excited to keep on the journey and keep rolling as a Colt.”