Jeff Saturday: Player profile
Welcome to Titletown Jeff Saturday! It’s not hard to see why the Packers would jump at the opportunity to acquire former Colts center Jeff Saturday after Scott Wells signed with the Rams. The Packers had no obvious replacement for Wells, and this seasoned veteran will likely have a smooth transition into the Packer’s offense. Rodgers should have an even easier transition since Saturday meets the criteria for an ideal center, which according to Rodgers is butt height and lack of butt sweat. However, there is more to Jeff Saturday than a nice hiney.
Saturday attended the University of North Carolina where he became a letterman for the Tar Heels Football Team from 1994- 1997. He acted as team captain during his Junior and Senior years and was also recognized as a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection at center for both years. He also received recognition as an Academic All-ACC selection in 1997. Saturday went undrafted in 1998, but was signed by the Ravens as a free agent for a less than two month stint.
Saturday began his tenure with the Indianapolis Colts in January 1999. He started his rookie season as back up for the starting guard, and when Steve Mckinney went inactive due to an emergency appendectomy, Saturday got his chance to start at left guard against the Eagles in November. Two regular season starts later, he became the starting center for the Colts and thus began what is arguably one of the best quarterback-center pairings to ever play the game.
Saturday spent 12 straight seasons snapping to Peyton Manning, and was the anchor of the Colt’s offensive line. That line that gave up the fewest quarterback sacks in the NFL from 2004- 2006. In 2007, he helped lead the Colts to a Super Bowl XLI victory against the Chicago Bears, and he has (so far) been voted onto a total of 5 Pro Bowl teams.
Super Bowls and Pro Bowls aside, Jeff Saturday’s legacy to the game is likely to be his contribution to the completion of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Instead of stepping back and waiting for the whole thing to blow over, he stepped up and became one of the two team player representatives that saw the grueling negotiations from start to finish. His personality seemed to help bring people together and find common ground for two very disagreeable sides. He was not only a strong advocate for the players, but because of his level of commitment and understanding of the details of the complicated deal, he quickly earned the trust and respect of the owners and league executives. The suits often reached out to him when talks began to reach a boiling point. Saturday was able to diffuse these heated situations. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell developed a great relationship with Saturday and trusted him implicitly. Goodell described him as “the glue who helped keep things together”. As for Jeff, he spent the long months of his offseason in the messy labor battle with one goal in mind- to leave the game better than he found it.
A man can’t live on football alone. Alongside his wife Karen and their three children, Saturday leads a rich and spiritual life off the field. Jeff and Karen Saturday serve as Honorary Board Members on the People’s Burn Foundation. They were also named the Indianapolis Susan G. Komen Individual Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Jeff has been a spokesman for the “Miracle Run” fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children since 2004 and also participates and serves on the board for the Sharon Bassett Foundation. No doubt that the Saturday’s charitable constitution will continue in Green Bay.
Colts owner Jim Irsay wrote on Twitter that Jeff Saturday was, “as good of a man as it gets”. The Colts did not have plans to keep Saturday on the field for this coming season, but Irsay was still hoping to keep Saturday with the team full time. The Colts said they were willing to offer him a position in the front office, but Saturday wanted to hit the field for another season. Speculation quickly ignited when Peyton Manning made the move to Denver, that Saturday would soon follow. Saturday paid a visit to Green Bay and Tennessee before making his decision. In the end, Jeff signed a two year deal with the Pack. According to Saturday, it was because Green Bay made him feel wanted and needed… and he truly is.