Mike Wells | ESPN.com
“Nobody knew,” Wayne said after leading the receivers out of the tunnel before Sunday night’s game against the Houston Texans. “Made it in time for the team meeting and gave a little speech at the team meeting.”
Colts coach Chuck Pagano was the only person in the organization who knew Wayne would be attending the game. The two have stayed in constant communication since Wayne tore his ACL in the fourth quarter of the Oct. 20 game against the Denver Broncos.
Wayne, who was just cleared to travel last week, didn’t give his teammates a motivational speech. He simply told them to play like each play is their last.
“‘At any given moment it can be your last one, so don’t matter if it’s your first year or your 13th year. Go out there and give every play all you’ve got,” Wayne said. “That was basically my message. It was [a] get-your-mind-right speech. Told them there’s no way they’re going to come out here and not expect me to show up.”
Wayne, who plans to be a regular at the team’s facility and at games while he rehabs, had played in 189 straight games before getting injured. He said it was weird for him to be in street clothes watching.
“I was cool until the bus ride [to Reliant Stadium],” Wayne said, laughing. “Once we got to the stadium and saw the fans and stuff, that’s when it kind of hit me that I’m not going to play. I’m here to support.”
Wayne has a difficult road ahead of him to get back on the field. He’ll be 35 on Nov. 17.
“I just grind,” he said. “I just go out there and give it everything I’ve got, no matter if it’s rehab, if it’s practice, a game. I do everything I do to be ready. When I hear that, I hear all the fans [saying], ‘I know you’re coming back, I know you’re coming back better.’ … I’ve got no choice. I have to come back. It will be just another chapter in the book. Hopefully it’ll be a good one.”
- Indianapolis Colts reporter for ESPN.com
- Previously worked at Indianapolis Star
- Covered Vikings for St. Paul Pioneer Press