Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had a close relationship with receiver Reggie Wayne since Pagano was a University of Miami assistant and Wayne was a Hurricanes player, and Pagano got a little emotional when describing his feeling about losing Wayne to a severe knee injury.
Pagano reflected on the way Wayne wore orange gloves to show his support during Pagano’s battle with leukemia last year, and now Pagano said he’s going to be the one supporting Wayne as he tries to get back to health.
“I think everybody has heard by now and knows that Reggie suffered an ACL tear. He’ll be lost for the season,” Pagano said. “We hate to lose anybody, but this one stings. See, you just don’t replace guys like 87. Again, we hate to lose anybody, but he’ll be back. I know how he’s wired. I know what his DNA is. I know how he is as a man. Everybody is going to say no way, but after the conversation I just had with him, just wait and see. So, we’ll all put on the gloves for Reggie and we’ll help him get through this and get him back.”
Although Wayne won’t play until 2014, Pagano said he wants Wayne to continue to be a team leader.
“He’s going to be there. He’ll miss, he’s going to have to go have something done surgically but I told him whether it’s on a stretcher, wheelchair, if we have to carry him in and out, he’ll be there every step of the way,” Pagano said.
Pagano said he tells young players that if they want to have a long career, Wayne is the man they should emulate.
“He’s a pro through and through,” Pagano said. “It’s easy for those young guys because I told them just get in his hip pocket and follow and do exactly what he does on a daily basis. You want to stick around for a long time? You want to be productive? You want to write your own legacy? You want to be a guy in the National Football League and not an also-ran, not just a guy that collects a paycheck and stuck around for a couple years. You want to be a guy? Then just do exactly what Reggie does. From a leadership standpoint, mentoring standpoint, all those kind of things, it’s off the charts. He’s not the only one. We got a locker room full of guys like that. So, that’s why it’s so important. In talking to him, he’ll be away and have to get that thing fixed, but he’s going to be with us every step of the way and he’s got to be right next to us.”
A torn ACL is a tough injury to rehabilitate from, and Wayne, who will turn 35 next month, may never get back the same kind of speed and explosiveness he once had. But Pagano says he’s certain that he’ll be coaching Wayne again next season.