He also endeared himself to a fan base with his approachable demeanor and class.
One of the more popular players in the Colts’ Indianapolis history, Saturday will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor during halftime of a Sept. 21 Monday Night Football game against the New York Jets on Sept. 21. The team announced the honor on its Web site Tuesday.
Saturday was with the Colts for 13 seasons from 1999 to 2011, played one season for the Green Bay Packers and then returned to Indianapolis for one day to retire with the team. He then worked for a short time in the Colts’ front office.
He’s tied for fifth in team history in games played (197), is third with 132 wins, trailing Reggie Wayne (143) and Peyton Manning (141). Saturday and Manning set an NFL record for most games by a quarterback-center combo with 170, 120 of them wins.
Saturday was selected to six Pro Bowls (five with the Colts) and was a two-time Associated Press First Team All-Pro (2005, 2007) and three-time Pro Football Writers Association All-Conference choice (2005 to 2007).
“I am very honored and excited,” Saturday said in a team release. “When you start playing this game, you never really envision this occurring in your career. I tell people all the time that my career was much better than I deserved. That’s really the way I feel about it. This is just another thing to add to it.
“I’ve been so blessed to be an Indianapolis Colt. To be there as long as I was and for as successful as it was, not only personally, but for the teams that I had the chance to play for, all the men that I got to suit up beside and run out on the field with, I can’t say enough good things. I’m just humbled by it and really excited about it.”
Saturday anchored an offensive line that won 115 regular-season games from 2000 to 2009, the most victories by an NFL team in a single decade in league history. During his Colts career, the team made the playoffs 11 times with eight division titles and two Super Bowl appearances, including a Super Bowl XLI victory in 2007.
“Jeff represented both the organization and the City of Indianapolis with a tremendous amount of class for 13 seasons,” said Colts Owner & CEO Jim Irsay. “The passion for which he played the game was infectious and he quickly developed into one of this game’s great leaders. His performance on the field matched his dedication and service to the community. Jeff is extremely deserving of this honor and I’m thrilled to add his name with the others who have represented the Horseshoe in extraordinary fashion.”
In seven seasons, the Colts’ O-line ranked first in fewest sacks allowed (1999, 2000, 2004 to 2006, 2009, 2010). He started all 16 games at center in 10 seasons and helped the Colts’ offense amass 5,000-plus net yards in 12 consecutive years from 1999 to 2010.
One of the more memorable images of Saturday is his embrace of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft after they were instrumental in ending the NFL lockout in 2011. Saturday was a vocal leader on the players’ executive committee.
Saturday is currently an NFL analyst for ESPN.
He will become the 12th member in the Ring of Honor. He joins the late owner Robert Irsay (1996), wide receiver Bill Brooks (1998), retired coach Ted Marchibroda (2000), offensive tackle Chris Hinton (2001), quarterback Jim Harbaugh (2005), the 12th Man (2007), retired coach Tony Dungy (2010), wide receiver Marvin Harrison (2011), running back Edgerrin James (2012), running back Eric Dickerson (2013) and running back Marshall Faulk (2013).
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.