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Friendo
04-30-2008, 06:44 AM
I love these stories:


Print Close The News & Observer
Published: Apr 30, 2008 12:30 AM
Modified: Apr 30, 2008 03:05 AM
Jeff Saturday, pointing out the Raiders' defense, didn't give up his NFL hopes, and he got his chance when the Colts called.
Getty Images File Photo
Saturday shows patience pays
A.J. Carr, Staff Writer
RALEIGH - There was a time when it appeared Indianapolis Colts All-Pro center Jeff Saturday would never get a chance to play football on Sunday.

Though an All-ACC lineman at North Carolina who was projected as a pro prospect, he wasn't picked in the 1998 NFL draft.

His arms were "too short." He was "too little." So said the skeptics. He later signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens but soon was cut for failing to "reach expectations."

So he returned to the Triangle and worked a year for a Raleigh electrical supply company owned by a Duke alumnus, a situation that Saturday jokingly said was "further humbling" for a Tar Heel.

Today, a few days after the NFL draft, other players who weren't picked know that empty, left-out feeling. But Saturday, who spoke before about 300 at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast at the RBC Center on Tuesday, offered encouragement for those with broken dreams.

"You don't give up,'' he said after his talk. "The whole year I was working at the electrical supply company, I was working out at night, hoping for a chance. The biggest thing is to be prepared."

In 1999, he got that chance.

It came when a former teammate, Nate Hobgood-Chittick, told Colts president Bill Polian that Saturday was better than several centers he had faced in the NFL. Polian, who knew about Saturday as general manager of the Carolina Panthers, arranged a tryout, liked what he saw and signed the forlorn lineman.

Arms too short? Too little? Forget it.

Saturday became a Sunday regular. He has started 128 of his 137 career games at several positions but carved his niche at center.

Five times the bearded Colt has been selected to a first or second All-Pro team. He also has played in three consecutive Pro Bowls and owns a Super Bowl ring.

Among his key assignments is protecting quarterback Peyton Manning, a star who Saturday says shows up early every day to work, watch film, be prepared.

"He isn't a prima donna at all,'' Saturday said.

Talking football wasn't the veteran's primary purpose for coming to Raleigh, however. Saturday, married with three children, came to share his journey of faith that started during an Atlanta boyhood and flickered for several years but now is strong.

Along with his wife, Karen, Saturday is involved with charities and helped start a Bible study that includes Colts players, wives and neighbors. From that small group, a church, now with more than 400 members, was born.

Colts coach Tony Dungy sets a spiritual tone, which Saturday says creates a comfortable environment.

"He has a set of values he lives by according to his faith,'' Saturday said. "I've watched him go through the highs of winning a Super Bowl to the very depths of his son's death. He's the same man, leans on his faith in good times and bad times. That's the maturity I hope to walk in."

Saturday, 32 and preparing for his 10th NFL season, isn't sure how much longer he'll snap, crackle and block.

"This is the last year of my contract, and they drafted [two] centers,'' he said, referring to Wake Forest's Steve Justice and Buffalo's Jamey Richard. "But we play interchangeable positions [on the line]. I've started at left guard and right guard. I hope to sign another contract and play another four years or so."

Meanwhile, Saturday's path to the NFL gives low-round picks and the overlooked reason to keep working.

aj.carr@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-8948

Copyright 2008, The News & Observer Publishing Company



fwiw--I think the Packers got one in Durell Mapp this year.

58-4ever
04-30-2008, 08:34 AM
Yay for short-armed Jeff and the Dolts! :rolleyes:

Demonpenz
04-30-2008, 08:44 AM
saturday was helped that manning gets rid of the ball faster than a EMU on fire

Friendo
04-30-2008, 08:50 AM
saturday was helped that manning gets rid of the ball faster than a EMU on fire


or by Chittick's help w/Polian, but never let it be said that some on CP find a way to piss on inspiration/optimism. :rolleyes:

vailpass
04-30-2008, 08:53 AM
This story is teh ghey. If it aint bitch-slappin, ridin' dirty, makin rain at da club or pooping in a laundry hamper I don't want to hear it.

Mr. Laz
04-30-2008, 09:04 AM
saturday was helped that manning gets rid of the ball faster than a EMU on fire
it's true ..... a good offensive system and good players around them make the offense lineman's job so much easier.

our offensive abomination last year did our lineman no favors.

CosmicPal
04-30-2008, 09:11 AM
Nice story, even if he is a Dolt.