Let's face it, it must be hard playing in the shadow of Peyton Manning. When you're talking about the Indianapolis Colts, you're talking about their quarterback. Despite having a plethora of talented players on the roster, one man often ends up receiving the majority of the attention.
Stuck within the very clouded fog of Peyton Manning's storm lies the career of one of the most talented wide receivers of our generation.
That man's name is Reggie Wayne.
For years, many people knew Marvin Harrison simply as the man who'd been catching all of those touchdown passes from Peyton Manning. Harrison actually evolved into one of the greatest players in NFL history. He currently is the league's second all-time leading receiver.
Yet, you don't hear much about Marvin Harrison do you?
So if the great Marvin Harrison has been stuck living in Peyton Manning's shadow, just imagine how life must be like for Reggie Wayne.
The story of Reggie Wayne starts at the University of Miami.
Wayne quickly made his name known by breaking the school's single-season record and recording 48 receptions as a freshman. He would go on to become the school's all-time leading receiver with 173 total career receptions.
Such production landed him right on the Indianapolis Colts' radar during the 2001 NFL Draft.
It was there that Reggie Wayne became the 30th selection in the first round of the draft.
Providing a much-needed complement to Marvin Harrison.
Of course, such a hopeful concept proved to be easier said than done.
The Colts had never managed to acquire any receiver of any substantial caliber to compliment Harrison during the entirety of Peyton Manning's career.
Thankfully for the Colts, 2001 wasn't a true sign of things to come.
In his rookie season, Reggie Wayne totaled 27 receptions for 345 yards and no touchdowns. Of course, this production was a result of limited duty as he only started nine games in 2001.
In 2002, Reggie Wayne's production practically doubled as he recorded 49 receptions for 716 yards and four touchdowns. Wayne was finally beginning to take form and this 2002 season was only a small sample of things to come.
In 2003, Wayne continued to elevate his game by recording 68 receptions for 848 yards and seven touchdowns. His continual production on a yearly basis was a true breath of fresh air for the Indianapolis Colts.
In 2004, Wayne became one of the league's true play-makers by catching 77 passes for 1,210 yards and 12 touchdowns. In the first round of the playoffs, Wayne caught 10 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns (would have been a third has he not been tripped up just shy of the goal line).
In 2005, Wayne again improved his career high reception total by catching 83 passes for 1,055 yards and five touchdowns.
After signing a contract extension after the 2005 season, Reggie Wayne would have the best season of his career the following year.
He totaled 86 receptions for 1,310 yards and nine touchdowns in 2006 which earned him his first trip to the Pro Bowl. He also caught a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI, a game that he dedicated to his brother who has passed away.
After Marvin Harrison fell victim to injury in 2007, Reggie Wayne emerged as being a true number one receiver.
He again improved his career high receptions total by catching 104 passes for 1,510 yards (which led the entire league) and ten touchdowns. He thus, earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl.
Reggie Wayne's production continued in 2008. He caught 82 passes for 1,145 yards and six touchdowns, earning him his third consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl.
After posting five consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, one could only imagine what the future has in store for Reggie Wayne.
He's already the franchise's all-time leader in post-season production. His 66 receptions for 963 yards and eight touchdowns are all Colts postseason records.
With the departure of Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne can continue to emerge as being the true number one receiver for the Indianapolis Colts.
He might live in Peyton Manning's shadow a bit, but I don't think Reggie will mind so much as long as he continues to throw him touchdown passes.
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