NFL news: Jeff Saturday retires with Indianapolis Colts after signing one-day deal
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: March 8, 2013 9:57pm
Jeff Saturday completed the fairytale ending all NFL players would love to have as he re-signed with the Indianapolis Colts just for the day to enable him to retire with the team he loved.
The veteran centre spent 13 seasons with the Colts before playing a season with the Green Bay Packers to end his illustrious career - during which he was a role model both on and off the field.
Saturday became Peyton Manning's centre in Indianapolis and the duo started 170 games together - a record for the quarterback and centre partnership - and he was delighted to retire in familiar surroundings.
"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.
Saturday and his QB partner Peyton Manning
"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."
The 37-year-old was also a hugely respected figure amongst his fellow players due to his role in their union, and he was credited with playing a huge part in ending the 2011 lockout when the new CBA was finally settled.
"On behalf of all players, I want to congratulate Jeff Saturday on his 14-year NFL career. Since 2002, Jeff served players as a Player Representative and on the Executive Committee," said NFLAPA boss DeMaurice Smith.
"He fought tirelessly for players past, present and future throughout his career, but never more fiercely than during the NFL Lockout. We are fortunate to have Jeff on board for another year of service as an NFLPA Vice President but will miss watching him play the game he loves."
Saturday won one Super Bowl and two AFC titles alongside Manning, and during an emotional media conference at times he paid tribute to his old quarterback and the team he loves.
"The relationship between a centre and a quarterback is special. We loved each other but we could fight each other as well. We could bump heads and there was always a mutual respect," Saturday said.
"It never got any further than that. It was always on the field. Off the field, we were friends. He's taken me to places and given me gifts and allowed me to do things that I would never have the opportunity to do.
"This organization is what I hope all the NFL teams strive to be. In every negotiation I was involved with the PA and the NFL, I used us as an example of what you should strive to and I make no bones about it. This organisation is the best in the business and it will continue."
Saturday was an undrafted rookie who was working as a salesman when the Colts took a gamble on a player who turned out to become one of the best centres around.
"Here's a man who came into the league, no one thought he was going to do much," Colts owner Jim Irsay said. "He wasn't a first-round draft pick and is an individual who literally took this town and this state over with his integrity, with his love for the community, with this performance on the field, just an absolutely incredible individual.
"Going through the lockout, how he played a huge role in getting that settled. It was just absolutely incredible how Jeff has made his mark in this league and for this franchise."