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Wide receiver Wayne has game for the ages


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INDIANAPOLIS — Somebody get on the horn to Reggie Wayne’s family and closest friends. Get them to town in time for the Oct. 21 home game against Cleveland because a ceremony is going to break out.

At least one should.

Following Wayne’s performance Sunday, a 13-grab, career-best 212-yard work of art, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay should have grabbed a microphone, motioned Wayne to midfield, told fans to remain in their seats and verbally welcomed the 12th-year receiver to the team’s Ring of Honor.

Yeah. Just like that. Even though there’s a better chance of Irsay scrapping his Twitter account or misplacing Stephen Stills’ phone number than breaking the longstanding policy of waiting until a player is retired, no one present for Sunday’s 30-27 victory over Green Bay would argue the move.

That includes Packers fans.

Wayne, who turns 34 next month, is proving to be ageless. The arrival of Andrew Luck, the team’s missile-armed quarterback who is nearly 11 years Wayne’s junior, has the five-time Pro Bowl selection playing some of the most inspired football of his career through these first four games.

My stance has long been that Wayne, despite his unbelievable skills, has been somewhat taken for granted. After all, this is a franchise that while in Baltimore had the great Raymond Berry hauling anything John Unitas would send airborne. Moreover, during his first eight seasons in Indianapolis, Wayne played alongside Marvin Harrison, another surefire Hall of Famer.

Oh, and there was that Manning guy. And Dallas Clark. And Edgerrin James. And others. Yet all Wayne has done is deliver. Practice after practice, game after game, season after season.

“I think everyone knows what this game meant to Reggie, and he brought his ‘A’ game,” Colts’ interim head coach Bruce Arians said. “On Wednesday, I challenged our five-star players and our five-star players showed up. (Wayne) led the way.”

No argument from Luck.

“I told him after the game he was the best football player I’ve ever played with,” Luck said. “His leadership at halftime, on the field, before the last drive. I think I learned a lot from him watching him operate.

“I’m very fortunate and blessed to be on a team with him.”

Some of Wayne’s catches against the Pack bordered on defying description. There were the ones that at first looked as though they might have been incomplete, only to have Wayne bounce up from the turf and toss the ball to an official.

As for the one-hander he hauled in before hitting the turf while being shadowed by Green Bay’s Charles Woodson in the second quarter ... just YouTube it. You won’t be sorry.

Wayne now ranks 17th all-time on the NFL’s receiving yardage list with 12,214 yards, having just passed the great Charlie Joiner. His 75 receiving touchdowns have Wayne tied with two other players (Larry Fitzgerald and James Lofton) for 27th all-time, and he’s second on the Colts’ career yardage list.

Oh, and Wayne has now caught at least one pass in 100 consecutive games, a streak dating back to September 2006.

These days, Manning is in Denver, Clark in Tampa and James and Harrison savoring the fruits of retirement. But Reggie Wayne is still present and accounted for. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Packers.

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