Yesterday, I spoke with Reggie Wayne.
I wanted to let the initial interview stand alone, but do have some thoughts and analysis to share.
It’s a challenge to interview someone like Wayne as both a fan and a professional. I don’t care much for long-standing journalistic tenants. My motto is to tell the truth. Had I tried to interview Wayne as if he was a candidate for city council, it wouldn’t have been authentic. I made a conscious choice to be as warm as possible. Wayne made that easy.
I found him to be thoughtful, engaging, and he worked very hard to connect to the kids. I was impressed with him. He seemed genuine and engaged. However, after watching him do interviews, I noticed how easy it becomes for him to fall into rote answers. My decision to ask him about issues other than Peyton, Pagano and free agency was intentional. I hoped to get answers with more personality if I asked other questions. Had I had an hour to sit and talk with him, there were plenty of things I would have asked, but five minutes goes by quickly. My goal isn’t to break news or get a quote. My goal was to find insight into Reggie Wayne as a person. I think that is more interesting to fans and readers.
In the end, I was thrilled by his answers. I was struck by his answer to the question about Garcon. He legitimately cared about Garcon’s feelings about not leading the team in receiving yards. Frankly, that was astounding. Wide receivers are known for being selfish and petulant, but Wayne came across as neither.
His answers to the Harrison question were frankly more than I could have hope for. Harrison has been reinterpreted by some in recent years, but Wayne squelched those efforts with a heartfelt endorsement. I don’t know if it’s clear on the video, but there was real emotion in his eyes and voice as he talked about Harrison. For him to say that there were things Marv did that he couldn’t do was astounding. People forget just how amazing Harrison was.
In the other interviews, it was clear that he was very excited about Chuck Pagano. His relationship with Ed Reed is well known (former roommates), and the affection the Baltimore players have for Pagano certainly made an impression on Reggie.
Wayne came across as being all in committed to Indianapolis. He’s always been known as a team leader, but that came into sharper focus after listening to him. He actively wants to be back, and the team should consider the intangible value he brings. There are limits to how much you can pay a 34 year old wide out, and they can’t sign Wayne at any cost. However, if he can be brought back reasonably, he should be.
At the end, I thanked Reggie for his years in Indy. I honestly don’t care if that was professional or appropriate or not. It was the right thing to do. Reggie Wayne is one of the pillars of the Colts, and will be remembered as a legend in this town. I personally owed him a handshake and a thank you. There are lines fans who double as journalists shouldn’t cross (autographs being an obvious one), but thanking a great player and servant of the city with a hand shake isn’t one of them. I can’t expect honesty from an interview if I’m not willing to be honest about how I feel about the subject.
I admire Reggie Wayne the football player, and respect Reggie Wayne the person.
I’ll post more footage and stills from the event soon.