The Colts have purged their roster of some of the all time greats, with more farewells in the works. This is the first of a recurring series saying farewell to Colts greats. Portions of this essay originally appeared in Blue Blue: Tales of Glory of the Indianapolis Colts.
Joseph Addai’s only flaw is that he has had the misfortune of following three Hall of Fame running backs in Indianapolis. The Colts’ 2006 first round pick started his career with a bang. His rookie season, he became the first back to run for 1,000 yards in a season despite not starting a game. He was a huge factor in the playoffs, scoring the game winning touchdown against the Patriots and combining for 150 yards rushing and receiving in the Super Bowl. He followed up his stellar rookie year with strong season in 2007. He again rushed for over 1,000 yards, scored 15 touchdowns, and was selected to the Pro Bowl
for the first time.
Unfortunately for Addai, the Colts began to suffer injuries and retirements on the offensive line. The instability up front hurt his production, and a lackluster 2008 had fans wondering if Addai was destined for the bench. The Colts drafted Donald Brown in the first round in 2009 to help take the load off Addai who struggled with injuries of his own. Addai handled the situation with grace, openly mentoring Brown and refusing to take his selection as a slight. The result was a gritty, fan-winning performance in 2009. Addai was one of the stories of the year. His rushing numbers were far from spectacular, but it became apparent to everyone that the problem was not with the running back. Addai ran hard all year, posting 13 total touchdowns, 828 yards rushing, and 51 catches. Most
importantly, Addai was a savage blocker for Peyton Manning in the passing game. His ability to pick up blitzers and give Manning time to throw opened the eyes of even his harshest critics.
Addai’s signature moment came against the San Francisco 49ers. Trailing in the fourth quarter, the Colts shocked the world by running a halfback pass play. Addai, a left-handed quarterback in high school, sprinted to his left and threw to a wide open Reggie Wayne in the end zone. Wayne made an incredible diving catch for a 22 yard touchdown to give the Colts the lead for good.
He missed half the 2010 seasons, but ran well he played. His injury against the Redskins helped to herald the beginning of the mid-season swoon that almost sank the team. Addai was surprisingly re-signed just before the 2011 season, but again struggled with injuries. He missed four games, and had a career low 433 yards rushing and averaged just 3.7 yards a carry. Even his receiving numbers fell off. He was unceremoniously released as part of the Great Purge.
Whether running, receiving, blocking, or even passing, Joseph Addai did everything asked of him. Circumstances and injuries prevented him from ever becoming a super-star, but the image of him streaking in for the most important touchdown in Colts history will never be forgotten.
Joseph Addai, thanks for the memories!