The city of Indianapolis was enamored with Indiana Pacers great Reggie Miller from 1987 to 2005.
However, another Reggie made an indelible mark on the Circle City from 2001 to 2014: Reggie Wayne.
Wayne made such an impact on the Indianapolis Colts, the hometown fans routinely chanted “Reg-gie! Reg-gie!” during games at the old RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium.
The New Orleans native never aspired to become a Hall of Famer as a boy growing up in the Big Easy.
More than two decades later, he’s already on the brink of wearing a gold jacket and unveiling his bust in Canton.
It should bolster Wayne’s impressive resume on the gridiron, which includes membership in the Colts Ring of Honor.
Make no mistake about it: Reggie Wayne is one of the best wide receivers not only in Indianapolis Colts franchise history, but NFL history as well.
Reginald Wayne was born to parents Ralph and Euwayne in New Orleans, LA on November 17, 1978.
When Wayne was a child, he was a fan of the DC Comics superhero Batman.
“I was a fan of the cartoon,” he told SI.com’s Lisa Altobelli in November 2007. “And in high school friend’s called me ‘Bruce Wayne.’ (ESPN’s) Chris Berman took it to the next level with Reggie ‘Out of the Batcave’ Wayne.”
He told SI.com he suited up in New Orleans Saints gear whenever he went trick or treating every Halloween.
However, his mom never allowed him to do that. Instead, he snuck out of the house to get his fill of candy. He hated butterscotch, per Altobelli.
Wayne also dealt with racism during his formative years in the Big Easy:
“I’m from the South. Louisiana is one of the worst places you can be to be a Black man. There are numerous places in that state where you don’t wanna get out your car and get gas.” pic.twitter.com/zb6qiDrHzg
— I AM ATHLETE (@IAMATHLETEpod) June 24, 2020
Wayne grew up a baseball fan but eventually chose football when he enrolled at John Ehret High School in New Orleans.
While Wayne grew up a Saints fan, he also supported the New England Patriots.
Back then, the Saints were atrocious. Plus, his high school football team’s nickname was the “Patriots.” New England seemed a logical choice for Wayne as a football fan.
Reggie Wayne was a Jack of all trades for the John Ehret Patriots.
He played wide receiver, kick returner, punter, and free safety for his high school football team.
John Ehret Patriots head football coach Billy North told the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s official website he saw Wayne’s leadership potential when the latter was in middle school.
Even back in the day, Reggie Wayne wasn’t a vocal leader.
However, North noticed Wayne’s teammates warmed up to his leadership. It was obvious Wayne was the guy in charge.
Wayne’s breakout moment came in the 1994 Louisiana high school state playoffs against the highly-touted South Lafourche Big Blue.
Wayne, a sophomore, had three touchdown receptions in the 28-14 upset victory.
#87 DAYS until Louisiana High School Football is back!!
Reggie Wayne is a John Ehret Alum who went on to be a Super Bowl Champion and a 6X Pro-Bowler with the Indianapolis Colts!
— Louisiana Football Report #LAHSFB (@LAFBReport) June 12, 2019
Wayne’s scintillating performance blew North away, per AllStateSugarBowl.org:
“They weren’t just touchdown catches, either. They were phenomenal catches.”
“All I could think was, ‘How the heck did I not have this kid on varsity when he was a freshman? Three years later, he had broken every one of our receiving records.”
Little did North know he had a potential Pro Football Hall of Fame wideout under his care.
Wayne told HorseshoeHeroes.com’s Adam Weinrib in 2021 he never envisioned becoming a Hall of Famer:
“When I was a kid wanting to play football, it was never to be a Hall of Famer. I didn’t know what the Hall of Fame was growing up.”
“For me to be even mentioned with something as luxurious as the Hall of Fame? Bro, I’m good. I’m good. Whenever it happens, it happens. If if doesn’t, I’m good, too.”
Wayne, a two-time All-State honoree, eventually became a highly-touted recruit who committed to the Miami Hurricanes.
To nobody’s surprise, Reggie Wayne found himself on the brink of Canton more than two decades after wrapping up his high school football career in New Orleans.
College Days With The Miami Hurricanes
Reggie Wayne was a Liberal Arts major at the University of Miami.
Wayne was also a member of Miami’s track and field squad. He once ran for a personal best 21.87 seconds in the 200-meter dash.
Wayne was a four-year starter for Miami Hurricanes head football coach Butch Davis from 1997 to 2000.
As a true freshman during the 1997 NCAA season, Wayne broke Michael Irvin’s freshman record for receptions. Wayne’s 48 catches that year surpassed Irvin’s by just two.
Wayne piled up on the accolades early in his college career.
He earned Big East Rookie of the Year and Second Team All-Big East honors after the 1997 NCAA campaign.
Sporting News also named him Freshman All-American.
Despite missing two games with a torn ACL as a sophomore, Wayne’s 42 receptions led all Hurricanes receivers.
Behind Wayne’s exploits, the Hurricanes won nine of twelve games in 1998.
Wayne duplicated his four-touchdown production as a junior a season later.
Twenty-third ranked Miami went 9-4 in 1999 and beat the 17th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellowjackets 28-13 in the 2000 Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Reggie Wayne took his performance to greater heights as a senior in the 2000 NCAA season.
He had 755 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions in eleven games.
Don’t let the coronavirus distract you from remembering that future Hall of Famer Reggie Wayne is a Miami Hurricane pic.twitter.com/gCdrNzuYv0
— Marsh Cristobal🤟🏽 (@hurricanesmarsh) March 29, 2020
Wayne’s 10 touchdown catches are the second-most in the Hurricanes’ football program history. Irvin had 11 touchdown receptions fourteen years earlier.
The Hurricanes won eleven of twelve games in 2000. They beat their in-state rivals, the Florida Gators, in the 2001 Sugar Bowl, 37-20.
Reggie Wayne concluded his college football career with 2,510 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.
His 173 career receptions are the most in Miami football program history.
Wayne also set a school record with a reception in 36 consecutive games.
Reggie Wayne continued setting the bar high at the professional level.
Wayne eventually become one of quarterback Peyton Manning’s favorite targets with the Indianapolis Colts in the National Football League.
Not only that, but Reggie Wayne helped the Colts become a perennial Super Bowl contender during his 14-year pro football career.
Pro Football Career
ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. described the 6’1″, 193-lb. Wayne as a smooth wide receiver with the size and skill set that will help him thrive in the National Football League.
Kiper said Wayne’s exceptional route running abilities, speed, strong hands, and explosiveness made him stand out from the other rookie wideouts in 2001.
The only drawback was Wayne’s less-than-stellar finish in the 40-yard dash in the NFL Scouting Combine.
Kiper predicted Wayne’s time of 4.56 to 4.59 seconds would make him a late first-round or early second-round selection.
His hunch was spot on.
The Indianapolis Colts made Reggie Wayne the 30th overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft.
Shortly after the Colts drafted him, Wayne entrusted his pet Burmese python Law to his college roommate and Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed.
Wayne returned to Coral Gables, FL during the Colts’ bye week and discovered the snake looked sickly.
A few days after Wayne flew back to Indianapolis, Reed texted him saying, “Hey, man, Law dead.”
— Matt Glenesk (@MattGlenesk) July 23, 2014
Reggie Wayne was known for his headline-grabbing entrances at Colts training camp during his 14-year NFL career:
- 2006: Wayne wore a No. 32 Edgerrin James Arizona Cardinals jersey.
- 2007: He reported to training camp wearing hunting gear.
- 2009: Wayne brought a dump truck and wore a hard hat that read “Wayne’s Construction.”
- 2012: Members of the 38th Aviation Brigade from the 38th Indiana Division escorted Wayne.
- 2013: Wayne arrived with IU Health patient Matt Sercer on an IU Health LifeLine chopper.
- 2014: He drove a two-seater IndyCar to Colts training camp in Anderson, IN.
It turned out Wayne’s penchant for speed isn’t just for beating defensive backs on the gridiron.
He considered his 2014 training camp entrance in an IndyCar his all-time favorite.
“I’m a guy that likes speed and this is the one way to get that speed in me,” Wayne told USA TODAY’s Jordan Heck in November 2018. ” I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Another Reggie Wayne trademark was his fist-pump celebration in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.
For instance, Wayne displayed raw emotion after his touchdown reception in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears in Miami, FL on February 4, 2007.
Two of the best to ever do it for the @Colts.
Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne for a big time TD. pic.twitter.com/cuqmp112p2
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) April 22, 2020
The Colts eventually won their first Super Bowl title since moving to Indianapolis in 1984.
Wayne made his second Super Bowl appearance against his hometown New Orleans Saints three years later.
Unfortunately, Drew Brees and the Saints thwarted their title hopes with a resounding 31-17 win in Super Bowl XLIV.
Wayne told USA TODAY’s Chris Strauss in February 2013 his Super Bowl routine consisted of taking a shower, brushing his teeth, and eating chicken noodle soup.
“You want to keep it as normal as possible,” he told Strauss. “You don’t want anything to seem like it’s bigger than the other time. When Sunday hits, it’s another big game like all the other playoff games.”
Wayne and fellow Louisiana native Peyton Manning connected on and off the field during their time together in Indianapolis.
Wayne hauling in Manning’s throws for touchdowns was the stuff of legends.
However, they also had their share of disagreements.
Wayne revealed to the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast in May 2020 he shoved Manning on the sidelines during a game in the early 2000s.
Their teammates stepped in and separated them. Wayne and Manning met with Colts head coach Tony Dungy the following day to discuss the matter.
It was the last time the two Colts stalwarts were involved in a sideline altercation.
Wayne got off to a slow start in his rookie year with the Colts in 2001. He had just 345 receiving yards that year.
He had a combined eleven touchdown receptions in his next two seasons.
His 1,510 receiving yards were the most in the 2007 NFL campaign.
Wayne had at least 1,055 yards in eight of his fourteen NFL seasons.
Not only that, but he was also durable: he played in all sixteen games in eleven seasons.
With Reggie Wayne in the fold, the Colts won a Super Bowl Trophy and nine AFC South division titles.
They also won at least 10 games in twelve of Wayne’s 14-year tenure in Indy.
The Indianapolis Colts were a force to be reckoned with during the Reggie Wayne era.
Wayne mourned the death of his 31-year-old brother Rashad in September 2007.
The older Wayne crashed the produce truck he drove into a guardrail along a freeway just outside New Orleans.
Reggie Wayne told SI.com two months later the Colts comforted him during the harrowing ordeal:
“The team embraced me to help me get through it. Especially Coach (Tony) Dungy because he was in a similar situation the before with the death of his son.”
“(Team president) Bill Polian and all the receivers and team captains came to the funeral. it made me realize there’s a level of brotherhood in this team.”
Wayne singled out the regular-season game against the Green Bay Packers on October 7, 2012 as the best in his NFL career.
Week 5 of the 2012 season: Andrew Luck leads his first 4th quarter comeback and another game-winning drive, this time against Aaron Rodgers & the Packers!
Luck finished with 362 yards and threw the game-winning TD to Reggie Wayne! pic.twitter.com/zb8gPX4GBs
— Four Verts 🏈 (@FourVerticals_) August 25, 2019
In Indianapolis’ emotional 30-27 triumph, Wayne had 212 receiving yards and a touchdown on 13 receptions.
Wayne’s heroics helped the Colts complete a stirring comeback from a 21-3 halftime deficit.
Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson always had the better of Wayne until that memorable day.
A fired-up Wayne dug his heels in and went to work.
He finally showed up Woodson, a nine-time Pro Bowler who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021.
Wayne also scored the game-winning touchdown for good measure.
The game against the Packers was the first Colts head coach Chuck Pagano – a man Wayne had known since his college days in Miami – had to sit out because of leukemia.
Pagano was the Miami Hurricanes’ defensive backs and special teams coach from 1995 to 2000.
For his part, Wayne wore orange gloves for the game against Green Bay.
As soon as the final horn went off, Wayne drove to Pagano’s house and gave the gloves to him as keepsakes.
He also told Colts.com he and Pagano sat and conversed “like two kids crying.”
When Pagano told Wayne he would beat cancer, the latter received some much-needed reassurance.
The Indianapolis Colts announced on March 6, 2015 they would not re-sign Reggie Wayne. Consequently, he became a free agent four days later.
Three days into free agency, Wayne wrote a letter to Colts fans that The Indianapolis Star published.
In Wayne’s letter, he thanked the Colts for taking a chance on him when they drafted him 30th overall in 2001.
He also thanked Colts owner Jim Irsay and his family for treating him like one of their own and leaving their door open regardless of the circumstances.
Wayne also thanked his past coaches with the Colts including Jim Mora, Tony Dungy, and Jim Caldwell.
Of course, Wayne made special mention of Chuck Pagano.
Wayne also extended his gratitude to his Colts teammates and the state of Indiana.
When Wayne was in limbo after his release from Indianapolis, the Detroit Lions knocked on his door.
It turned out the Lions wanted to sign Wayne for the 2015 NFL season.
Had that panned out, Wayne would’ve formed a formidable wide receiver combination with Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.
Alas, Wayne spurned the Lions.
“I said, ‘Work out? You the Detroit Lions,” Wayne told NFL Network’s Dan Hellie (via the Detroit Free Press‘ Dave Birkett) in May 2020. “So I was like, ‘Nah, I’m cool.'”
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 24, 2015
Instead, Wayne earned the ire of Colts fans for signing with their long-time nemesis, the New England Patriots.
Wayne signed a one-year contract worth up to $3 million with New England, per Pro Football Talk.
Less than two weeks later, Wayne requested the Patriots to release him.
Several months after Wayne requested his release from the Patriots, he realized his time on the gridiron was up.
The turning point occurred during a game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 29, 2015.
On that day, Wayne attended the game as a fan. It was the first time he had watched an NFL game from the stands since his college days with the Miami Hurricanes – a time frame of almost 15 years.
He soaked in the football fan experience to the hilt – munching on popcorn, watching the game from the Jumbotron, and looking at fans’ reactions.
Wayne told WTTV CBS-4’s Mike Chappell in January 2016 he realized it was time to hang up his cleats:
“I thought that was the final notch for me. I felt like I needed that to help me get over that hump.”
“A lot of guys who go to games come away and say, ‘You know what? I can still do that.’ But I needed to realize, ‘You know what? This ain’t half bad.”
Speculation of Wayne’s impending retirement began at the end of the 2014 NFL campaign.
Wayne’s torn triceps and groin injuries hampered his productivity. He had just two touchdown passes in fifteen games that year.
Wayne’s ACL injury forced him to sit out the Colts’ final nine games the season before. He also had just two touchdown receptions in 2013.
Reggie Wayne had made his retirement from the National Football League official more than two years later.
He made the announcement two months after his thirty-seventh birthday.
Reggie Wayne concluded his legendary NFL career with 14,345 receiving yards and 82 touchdowns on 1,070 receptions.
The six-time Pro Bowler currently ranks 10th all-time in both career receiving yardage and career reception totals.
He is also the Colts’ franchise leader in regular-season games played (211) and victories (143).
Wayne’s 93 postseason receptions ranks him second all-time. His 1,254 postseason receiving yards ranks him fourth in NFL history.
Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning spoke highly of Wayne, a fellow New Orleans native, per the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s official website:
“Reggie Wayne was a great teammate, and he was a tough receiver, fearless across the middle, great catcher of the ball with his hands; it was a privilege to play with him.”
“I always felt that we had that Louisiana bond and that translated to our on-the-field connection. He was an extremely hard worker and that work ethic paid great dividends for him and for me because of the timing were were able to develop.”
“He was just a guy that you wanted in the huddle with you and I’m always proud to be able to call Reggie Wayne a teammate and a friend.”
Reggie Wayne currently resides in the Miami, FL area with his wife and his four children whose ages range from eight to eighteen.
He told NOLA.com’s Josh Katzenstein in February 2017 his four kids are “all different personalities.”
When Katzenstein asked him if he missed playing football, he replied in the negative.
“Not at all,” Wayne said. “I gave them everything I had. I got nothing left in the tank. I’m enjoying life now.”
During Reggie Wayne’s post-retirement years, he has been enjoying his life as a soccer dad. He loves dropping his kids off at school and attending parent-teacher conferences.
The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame inducted Wayne in 2011.
Shortly after Wayne retired from the National Football League in January 2016, he began working as an analyst for NFL Network.
He spent parts of the summer and spring of 2018 as a volunteer assistant with the Colts. In that role, he helped Colts assistant wide receivers coach Kevin Patullo.
Could that be a sign Wayne will coach the Colts someday?
“Too early to tell, ” Wayne told The Indianapolis Star’s Joel A. Erickson in January 2019. “I enjoyed it. I think coaching is in my blood, I think it’s something that I would want to do. It’s just got to be the right time.”
Wayne was inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor on November 18, 2018.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame inducted Reggie Wayne in July 2021.
Five months later, Wayne became a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022.
— Reggie Wayne (@ReggieWayne_17) December 30, 2021
Reggie Wayne has appeared twice in the television series “Parks and Recreation.”
Wayne even saved those two shows in his DVR for good measure, per Weinrib:
“It became one of my go-to shows. Started watching it, got some laughs. Then I got the phone call asking if I wanted to be in it, and who didn’t want to be in ‘Parks and Rec?'”
“When I got that phone call, I told them, ‘Absolutely.’ Those two shows are the two shows that I know for sure are saved on my DVR.”
Wayne was instrumental in bringing back Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton to Indianapolis.
Hilton turned down more money from the Baltimore Ravens and re-signed with the Colts in March 2021.
Hilton, who was Wayne’s protege from 2012 to 2014, considers the Colts Ring of Honor member a big brother.
“He was a big help all the way through this whole thing,” Hilton told Pat McAfee in March 2021 (via HorseshoeHeroes.com’s Jerry Trotta). “I’d give anything for him. He’s a real big brother to me. I love him to death.”