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Jeff Saturday: Indianapolis Colts Star Center

Photo of Jeff SaturdayBorn June 18, 1976 in Georgia, Jeff Saturday was a member of the Indianapolis Colts from 1999 through 2012. He’s was the starting center on the vaunted Colts offensive line, where he started a total of 197 games.

Saturday was a standout football player for Shamrock High School in Atlanta, Georgia. He then went on to play his college ball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The undersized offensive lineman was a three-year starter at center for the Tar Heels, earning All-ACC First-Team honors his junior season.

Saturday was bypassed in the 2008 NFL Draft, but was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent shortly thereafter. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how you look at it — he was cut before the start of the season. Amazingly, he moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he became a manager at an electrical supply store. But former Colts President of Operations,  Bill Polian, saw something in Saturday. With the approval of Jim Irsay he signed Saturday before the 1999 season.

In his initial season in Indy, he served primarily as the backup to starting guard Steve McKinney, but played in 11 games. He was given the full-time  starting center job prior to the next year, a role he’s yet to surrender. Saturday started all 16 games in 2000, and ended up playing in a remarkable 85 consecutive games before an injury forced him to miss games in 2004. His hard-work and dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed by fans or his peers, as Saturday’s made Pro Bowl appearances in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. He was also named First-Team All-Pro in ’07 and ’09.

His crowning achievement however, didn’t come as Peyton Manning‘s personal protector. Trailing 28-21 late in the 2006 AFC Championship game, the Colts found themselves on the New England Patriots one-yard line with a chance to tie the score. Dominic Rhodes took the handoff and plowed into the line, but his handle on the ball wasn’t true, and he fumbled it into the end zone. What could have been a game-altering disaster, turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the always alert Saturday pounced on the ball, leading to his first, and only, touchdown of his career. The Colts went on to win that game, and the next one against the Chicago Bears to secure Indianapolis‘ first Super Bowl title, defeating the Chicago Bears 29-17.

Along with his line-mates, Saturday’s helped the club produce over 5000 net yards in the last 11 seasons, and has yielded only 205 sacks in the last 176 game, the lowest total in the NFL during that span. The Colts led the league by allowing a measly 13 sacks in 2009, marking the seventh time in eight seasons the club has ranked in the top five in the league.

On a personal level, Saturday is very involved in the Indianapolis community. He’s a regular guest on the Bob and Tom Show, heard daily on Q95. He’s also been the spokesman for the Miracle Ride fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children since 2004, and is active with the People’s Burn Foundation of Indiana. Saturday’s contributions to Indy earned him the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 2007.

After 13 years in Indianapolis, he signed as a center for the Greenbay Packers. He retired at the end of the season, signing a 1-day contract with the Indianapolis Colts. He agreed to join ESPN as a football analyst in July, 2013.

 

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