Saturday at the 2013 Pro Bowl
|Born:||June 18, 1975|
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||295 lb (134 kg)|
|High school:||Tucker (GA) Shamrock|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Jeffrey Bryant Saturday (born June 18, 1975) is a former American football center. He played college football for the University of North Carolina. He was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 1998, but was cut by the team without playing a game. Saturday then signed with the Indianapolis Colts, with whom he played 13 seasons, won Super Bowl XLI over the Chicago Bears and was selected to four All-Pro teams and five Pro Bowls. In his final NFL season, he made his sixth Pro Bowl as a member of the Green Bay Packers.
His high school coach Ron Gartrell said in a 2012 Sports Illustrated story on Saturday, "Eighty percent of our offense was behind Jeff. On defense we put Jeff on one side and all our other good players on the other side, because teams ran away from Jeff." However, Gartrell could not sell Southeastern Conference schools on Saturday's abilities; in the same interview, he said that coaches at Georgia and Tennessee considered Saturday too short to play in the conference. He received a scholarship offer from the University of North Carolina partly because of Gartrell's friendship with UNC's then-defensive coordinator Carl Torbush.
Saturday received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a four-year letterman for coach Mack Brown's North Carolina Tar Heels football team from 1994 to 1997. As a junior in 1996 and again as a senior in 1997, he was one of the Tar Heels' team captains. He was recognized as a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) selection at center in 1996 and 1997, and an Academic All-ACC selection in 1997. Saturday's college roommate Nate Hobgood-Chittick, a defensive tackle who would himself play three seasons in the NFL, later said, "Jeff kicked our asses all over the practice field. I could count on one hand the number of times I beat him in a one-on-one drill, and if it happened, I celebrated."
According to Sports Illustrated, Saturday was ranked as the No. 11 center available in the 1998 NFL Draft. He was described as "somewhat an overachiever, has worked to make himself better," but also as "an undersized guy [who] simply has trouble matching up against power NTs that can overwhelm him". He went undrafted, but the Baltimore Ravens signed him as a free agent on April 27, 1998, only to waive him on June 12, 1998. He then returned to Raleigh, North Carolina, and took a job as a manager at an electrical supply store.
Saturday first came to the attention of the Indianapolis Colts during the 1998 season, when Hobgood-Chittick was on the roster. As Hobgood-Chittick would recall in 2012,
I had no footing at all with that franchise, so I stood outside [Bill] Polian's door in my dirty sweats, saying a prayer. I walked in and said, "There's a guy selling electrical supplies in Raleigh right now who whipped all those first-round draft choices at North Carolina every day." Polian looked at me and said, "I love it. Let's get him in here for a workout."
The Colts signed him as a free agent on January 7, 1999. In his rookie season, Saturday backed up starting guard Steve McKinney, and earned his first NFL start at left guard on November 21, 1999, against the Philadelphia Eagles. After only 2 regular season starts in 1999, Saturday started all 16 regular season games of the 2000 season at center for the Colts, and continued to start every game thereafter - for a total of 85 consecutive games - before sitting out 2 games with an injury in December 2004. Saturday finished his time with the Colts as the team's starting center for 12 straight seasons, and was the anchor of the Colts' offensive line, which gave up the fewest quarterback sacks among all NFL teams in the 2004, 2005, and 2006 seasons. Trivially, Saturday attempted a pass once, during a game in 2004, but it fell incomplete.
Though the Colts won at least 10 regular season games for five consecutive years under Head Coach Tony Dungy, the team could not get to the Super Bowl, losing in the AFC Playoffs from 2002 to 2005. In 2006, the Colts went 12-4 in the regular season and earned the 3rd seed in the AFC. On January 21, 2007, Saturday helped the Colts win the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots when he recovered a teammate's fumble in the end zone and scored a touchdown. Saturday also provided the key block on the game-winning touchdown run by Joseph Addai, pancaking Vince Wilfork. Peyton Manning, the Colts Quarterback at the time and a longtime friend, claims that Saturday wants this play to be known as "The Block." Two weeks later, Saturday helped the Colts win Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears.
During his time with the Colts, Saturday started 188 of 197 games. He became a free agent after the 2011 season.
Saturday signed a two-year deal with the Green Bay Packers for $7.75 million on March 23, 2012. After an up-and-down season, Saturday was benched on December 21, 2012. Despite this, Saturday was later announced as the back-up center for the NFC in the 2013 Pro Bowl. In the Pro Bowl, despite being on opposite teams, Saturday and long-time Colts teammate Peyton Manning shared one final snap together.
On January 25, 2013, Saturday announced he would retire following the 2013 Pro Bowl Game. On March 7, 2013, Saturday signed a 1-day contract with the Colts to retire with the team he spent 13 of his 14 seasons with.
Saturday was inducted into the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor during the week 2 game against the New York Jets on September 21, 2015.
Saturday is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Football League Players' Association, where he was the key negotiator in completing the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NFL and NFLPA. He has three children with wife Karen Saturday: Jeffrey Douglas Saturday, Savannah Faith Saturday, and Joshua Bryant Saturday.
Saturday is a Christian. Saturday became a Christian after searching for what defines him as a person. Saturday has talked about his faith saying, "My identity is in Christ and the way that I live my life hopefully glorifies Him and gives Him the credit and the glory."