NFL

Colts to honor former center, current ESPN analyst, Jeff Saturday during MNF

Jeff Saturday (63) played 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (1999-2011). (Photo courtesy Ida Mae Astute)
Jeff Saturday (63) played 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (1999-2011).
(Ida Mae Astute/ABC)

ESPN NFL analyst Jeff Saturday will be on the field for tonight’s New York Jets-Indianapolis Colts Monday Night Football game (ESPN, 8:15 p.m. ET). Rather than getting suited up to play in his No. 63 jersey, the former Colts center will be inducted into the team’s prestigious Ring of Honor at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Jeff Saturday on the set of NFL Live. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Jeff Saturday on the set of NFL Live.
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

“Especially as an undrafted rookie free agent going in, you never have thoughts about that happening. It’s truly a humbling experience,” said Saturday.

During his 13 years with the Colts, Saturday helped anchor an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the league. The Super Bowl champion also started an NFL record 172 games with future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as a center-quarterback duo.

Reflecting on his time in Indianapolis, Saturday is quick to praise his teammates – the guys he said helped elevate his game.

ESPN The Magazine's 2009 NFL Preview Issue featuring Jeff Saturday and Peyton Manning.
ESPN The Magazine’s 2009 NFL Preview Issue featuring Jeff Saturday and Peyton Manning.

“To all of these guys that I had a chance to play beside, it’s just an incredible honor and I hope they understand how much they meant to me. Without them, I’m just another guy who got a chance and played for some years.”

Saturday also smiles at the mention of ESPN colleague Bill Polian, the Hall of Famer and former Colts President and Vice Chairman who brought Saturday to Indianapolis in 1999 as a free agent. Saturday had been working in North Carolina as a manager at an electrical supply store after being waived by the Baltimore Ravens a year earlier.

“I’m forever indebted,” Saturday said. “It didn’t matter where you came from. Once you were part of the team, everybody got an equal and fair shot. I knew if I was good enough I could stay.”

During his time with the team, Saturday said he witnessed the city transform from a racing and basketball town to a premiere NFL town. He described Colts fans as the best in the business, saying: “They were a weapon for us.”

MNF debuted 45 years ago tonight
Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and Don Meredith at the first Monday Night Football game played on Sept. 21, 1970. (Photo courtesy ABC Sports)
Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and Don Meredith at the first Monday Night Football game played on Sept. 21, 1970. (Photo courtesy ABC Sports)

ESPN analyst and former NFL center Jeff Saturday on what it was like to play on MNF: “It’s a different set of nerves. To go out Sunday at 1 p.m. it’s great, but you kind of get accustomed to it and it sounds silly, but you don’t ever get accustomed to the Monday Nighters. You know those always have a bit of a different feel. You can either get embarrassed or you can show the world what you’re about. You want to show the best you got.”

Editor’s Note: The Buffalo Bills presented Bill Polian with his Hall of Fame ring on Sunday in a special ceremony at halftime of the Patriots-Bills game on Sunday. Polian was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. Go behind the scenes of SportsCenter On The Road’s show from Buffalo featuring Polian and several other former Bills standouts.

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