INDIANAPOLIS – It’s anybody’s guess whether this will be the last playoff appearance of Reggie Wayne’s 14-year NFL career.
But know this, if it is, Wayne is going to relish every moment of it.
It started on New Year’s Eve when Wayne thought about whether he should be out partying or getting his rest for practice the next day.
In typical Reggie Wayne fashion, football was his top choice. He’ll play in his 19th career playoff game on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I’d rather practice football,” he said. “This is a time where not everybody can enjoy that luxury of having, and that’s why after the games you want to exhaust yourself in that moment. You want to go out there and you want to give it everything you have to make sure that you’ve done everything you possibly can.”
If Wayne does decide to retire, it won’t come without a fight from one of his close teammates. Fellow receiver T.Y. Hilton said he’ll do everything he can make sure Wayne continues playing.
“I’m not going to let him leave me right now,” Hilton said. “I’ll have a talk with him whenever that time comes. I told him talk to your family, talk to your kids, but when you’re finished with that, make sure you come talk to me. Our relationship has really grown, so I’ll probably have a say-so with that.”
Wayne’s groin is fine after he left last weekend’s game against Tennessee early. He practiced all week with the exception of Friday, when coach Chuck Pagano gave the veteran the day off to rest and let any achy parts of his body get better.
“It’s playoff time, everybody’s playing hurt. I’ve been hurt all year,” Wayne said. “So I’m going to fight through my tricep and then I’m going to let a groin keep me out? Nah, it don’t work like that. This is the time where big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. This is what we live for. This is our second goal, and that second goal is to make the playoffs and you better believe I’m going to be there.”
Wayne’s focus is making sure the Colts are ready for Sunday. The last thing he wants is to have a long drive home on Interstate 465 because the Colts didn’t play to their potential.
They went 3-1 in their final four games and held a players-only meeting after losing by 35 points to Dallas in Week 16. The Colts say they’ve responded well since that meeting.
“Guys understand how serious this is,” Wayne said. “I think guys understand you kind of go into it as one-game seasons each week. We do understand that if you lose, you go home, you pack your locker up. I think guys all week have really been in tune to what we want to do. I think practices have been great, everybody’s enthused. There’s nobody around here that’s tight, that kind of in a panic mode … We know what’s at stake.”