Reggie Wayne created something of a buzz with his comments to the media Wednesday regarding freshly-signed quarterback Kerry Collins. In those comments, Reggie seemed to go overboard in his defense of Curtis Painter. There are specific quotes I want to look at, here they are, from ESPN:
“I don’t care who you are, I mean I’m not going to let anyone just come in here and just push someone (like Painter) aside like you’re that dog now, you know what I mean?” Wayne added.
“I don’t want to make it seem like I’m not welcoming or having open arms to anybody that comes to our organization,” Wayne said to local media. “If they open the doors for Kerry Collins to come, then that’s fine. I can’t do (anything) about that anyways. But I’ll be damned if we’re going to open the doors for someone else, and just drop our heads on who we already have. The Colts are big on protecting their own, so I’m (going to) help protect our own.”
The more I thought of Reggie’s words “protect our own” the more I thought maybe this wasn’t about Curtis Painter at all.
If you follow baseball at all, you are probably aware of the controversy that surrounded the New York Yankees earlier this year with regards to Jorge Posada. Posada has been a lifelong Yankee, helped the ball club win multiple World Series Championships, and has been a beloved figure among fans. Posada, who turned 40 this year, started struggling with his at bats, and was consequently moved down in the batting order before being benched. Posada did not handle the move all that gracefully, as you might expect. But it is not Posada’s actions I want to focus on, it is the actions of a teammate: Derek Jeter.
Jeter, the shortstop and captain of the Yankees, defended Posada. Many fans and media members attributed this somewhat bizarre defense not to a deep love for Posada, but as a self-preservation tactic. Jeter, who himself has had his struggles this year, knew that he would one day be in Posada’s shoes. Perhaps he was letting the organization and fans know how he would like to be treated when he is unable to perform at a high level.
Protect our own.
It is those words that continued to stick with me. Perhaps Reggie Wayne feels that Curtis Painter is good enough to start in the NFL – but honestly, having seen Painter play for more than two seasons, does that seem all that likely? Is it possible that Reggie, who is in the last year of his contract, is talking about himself when he talks about the Colts ”protecting their own?” Is he saying, “See, I stuck up for Painter, now you stick up for me when the time comes?” He is an aging player at a position that demands youth and the athletic ability that youth brings. He wants one more big payday, but he sees the writing on the wall and probably realizes that payday will not come from the Colts, if it comes from any team.
Maybe it was not a defense of a 2nd-string quarterback as much as it was a plea from an aging star: “Protect me, I have earned it.”