As week three of the National Football League preseason comes to an end I was looking down the list of the many former North Carolina football players that are now playing at the next level. The one that I kept going back to is a center who has been in the NFL for well over a decade and has snapped the ball for two future Hall of Famers. He came into the league undrafted and might end his journey in Canton, Ohio. For those of you that have not yet figured it out I am talking about Jeff Saturday, the 37 year old lineman who was a long time Indianapolis Colt and this season signed with the Green Bay Packers.
At Carolina Jeff Saturday played under head coach Mack Brown, being a four year letterman from 1994 to 1997 for the coach who is now at the University of Texas. His final two seasons in Chapel Hill Saturday was named captain and was voted to the first team All-ACC selection, while in 1997 he was also on the Academic All-ACC squad. His entrance to the NFL was by way of the Baltimore Ravens, who picked him up after going undrafted in 1998, but in “Charm City” the Athens, Ga native did not find any fortune and the following year he ended up with the Colts. And as they say in the movies… “the rest is history”.
Here is the list of achievements that Saturday has racked up during his stellar career…
- 5 time Pro Bowl (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010)
- 2 time First-team All-Pro (2005, 2007)
- 2 time Second-team All-Pro (2006, 2009)
- 2 time AFC Champion (2006, 2009)
- NFL Alumni Offensive Lineman of the Year (2007)
- In 13 years he has played in 197 games and started 188 of them
- Since 2000 he has missed just six games in 12 seasons
…to be added to this list is the fact that the 6’2″/295 lbs center is also a Super Bowl champion with the Colts, as Indianapolis defeated Chicago 29 to 17 in Super Bowl XLI. While most people will focus on the trio of quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James and wide receiver Marvin Harrison when speaking about the offense, it was in great part thanks to the hard work of Saturday, who guided the line in directing the blocking schemes, that the Colts gunslinger had plenty of time to throw or the running game had the possibility .
While I am not sure if this is going to do anything towards getting him to the Football Hall of Fame, Jeff Saturday has been part of the Executive Committee of the National Football League Players’ Association and many believe he played a big part in completing the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players.
But of all the things that can be listed for why Jeff Saturday should make it into the Hall of Fame, the fact that a team like Green Bay, who has the capacity to win it all, with a future member of the elite group in Canton, Ohio over center, went to get the 14 year veteran to snap the ball to him, something that the Packers do not usually do. And while in the politically correct world we live in Peyton Manning will never say this, I am sure he would have loved for his new squad, the Denver Broncos, to have gone after the veteran free agent in the off season.
For certain both Peyton Manning and, if he keeps up his play Aaron Rodgers, will end their career with a bust in Canton. For the first one as a first ballot and for the second one time will tell. But for the man who has snapped to both of them, one for over a decade and the other for the next two seasons, the road might be harder, but in the end he too should also make it there. And when he does it will be well deserved as he has been one of the best at his position in the first decade of the new century and has been part of the puzzle of why the Colts won 125 games from 2000 to 2010 and came in either first or second in their division 10 out of 11 seasons.
In the end it will be at least seven years before we can see if my theory on the veteran center is right or not. But until then we still have the luxury to watch Saturday play for another couple of years with the Packers. For more information about this former North Carolina football player make sure to come back to isportsweb often.