It’s a wrap.
Actually, it was a kickoff (from the JUGS machine) caught by special teams coach Tom McMahon, that signaled the end of training camp for the Indianapolis Colts.
Head coach Chuck Pagano put McMahon and assistant coach Brant Boyer in the end zone and told players if either of them caught the ball, he would release them from the remaining 40 minutes of practice.
It was a lot of pressure, but McMahon made a clean catch, which was followed by raucous celebration. And praise from Pagano, who called him “a gamer.”
90 players. 22 days. 30 practices. 34,000 fans. And (what felt like) four seasons.
From here, Pagano says, they take it one week at a time.
“We’ve got a long way to go. We know that. It’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint. And we’re going to keep working hard to get better every single day.” -Coach Chuck Pagano
After Wednesday morning’s practice, the next step was packing up. And heading back to Indianapolis. I asked players the first thing they were going to do when they got home.
Andrew Luck: “Unpack, laundry, take a nap…I’m in no hurry to leave though. I’ve got loose ends to tie up. It’s been nice here in Anderson.”
Matt Overton: “Probably take the dogs out. Then I’ve got an awesome (ALS) ice bucket challenge to do.”
And then, there are the Colts tight ends. Who are…tight.
Coby Fleener: “Hang out with Dwayne Allen cuz he’s the coolest guy ever.”
Dwayne Allen: “Hang out with Coby Fleener, who’s the second coolest guy ever.”
Weslye Saunders: “The possibilities are endless, but probably just hang out with my girlfriend.”
Jack Doyle: “I’m gonna hang out with Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Wes Saunders, and his girlfriend.”
No matter who they spend time with or what they do, football won’t be far from the players’ minds.
Cory Redding: “Kiss my babies, kiss my wife…have fun with them and take care of my body, just rest and get on my iPad and continue to look. You get away from football, but you are not really away. You have to stay connected somehow, so stay connected mentally. Just get in my book and go over my plays and just relax.”
Because some ends aren’t really an end at all. They’re more of a beginning…the start of something bigger, better, and bolder.
I know months from now, I’ll look back at training camp and feel nostalgic. Because when the season ends, no matter how it ends…the story of the 2014 Indianapolis Colts started right here. In Anderson, Indiana.
And the goal is to finish in Glendale, Arizona.