It's (past) time for Reggie Wayne to enter the Hall of Fame
He's waited five years (Edgerrin James waited seven) but his time is coming, hopefully as soon as this year.
Is the fifth time the charm for Reggie Wayne? It should be, and I don’t say this as some kind of Colts homer (perish the thought) nor am I being swayed by the fact Reggie is one of the best guys I’ve covered in professional sports.
He's waited and waited and waited, and he’s waited long enough. I guess it’s possible Torry Holt, another Hall of Fame finalist, will draw some of those wide receiver votes as will Colt-for-a-minute Andre Johnson – and deservedly so – but for my money, this is Reggie’s time to join Bill Polian, Tony Dungy, Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James in Canton.
Just to compare, Wayne has more receptions than Holt and Johnson, more yards than Holt and Johnson and more touchdowns than Holt and Johnson. Makes it a simple proposition, doesn’t it?
“There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve waited on in my lifetime,” Wayne said this week. “In the same situation, I waited on becoming the No. 1 receiver for the Colts for six, seven years. I don’t have a problem with waiting. I’ve waited on a lot of stuff.
“I didn’t always get that BMX bike when I was a kid. I didn’t always get that Nintendo right when it came out. You got to wait. You’ve got to wait until your number is called…”
Wayne is 10th all time in career receptions with 1,070 and receiving yards (14,345) and is 29th with 82 career touchdowns. But like fellow Indy legend Reggie Miller, who created memorable postseason moments, Wayne did his best work when it mattered most. In 21 playoffs games, he caught 93 passes for 1,254 yards and nine touchdowns. He was, in a word, clutch.
Only Jerry Rice, Julian Edelman, Michael Irvin and Cliff Branch have more playoff yards; only Rice and Edelman have more post-season receptions.
Wayne was asked what he felt set him apart from his fellow receivers and Hall of Fame candidates. He quickly point to his post-season production.
“That’s a whole season that doesn’t count toward my (regular-season) numbers,” he said. “I just think the games that matter, did that person or player show up? I like to think I did.”
I had the good fortune to follow Wayne throughout his career, all the way back when he got off to a somewhat slow start after he was a controversial first-round draft choice. (They already had Harrison and needed defensive help at the time, so his selection was greeted with raised eyebrows).
As his career wore on, I started to get the feeling he was a future Hall of Famer, but there was one game when the issue was settled for me. The date was Oct. 7, 2012, and it was the first game after it was learned that Chuck Pagano had leukemia and might miss the season. It was an emotional day with interim head coach Bruce Arians running the show, keeping the office light on for Pagano, a chance to bring the game ball from a victory to the hospital when Pagano was being treated.
And then they trailed by 18 points at halftime to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.