INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis' victory celebration turned
The usually boisterous locker room noise was replaced by
emotional, thoughtful reflection as Colts players offered support
to their grieving receiver, Reggie Wayne.
Wayne's older brother, Rashad, was killed in an automobile
accident Sunday -- something Colts players didn't learn until well
after Sunday's game ended. After hearing the news, Wayne flew back
to his home state of Louisiana so he could help the family make
"I was at dinner and I was in a big state of shock, I almost
started crying," said Aaron Moorehead, another Indy receiver and
one of Wayne's closest friends. "I'm really almost in tears right
now. He said he wanted us to pray for him and that's what we're
going to do."
Sunday's 21-14 victory over Jacksonville gave Indy the early
edge in its quest to win a fourth consecutive AFC South title. But
almost before the Colts could savor their 11th straight win over a
division foe came word about Wayne's brother.
Rashad Wayne, 32, was killed when the delivery truck he was
driving crashed into a highway guardrail in Kenner, La. James
Gallagher, a spokesman for the Kenner police department, said
Rashad Wayne was pronounced dead at the scene.
The news instantly changed the Colts' perspective.
"That put a damper on a big win for us," coach Tony Dungy
said. "Reggie called me right after the game and said he didn't
know what happened but that he had to go home. Obviously, that's
not a call you want to get."
It's not the first time tragedy has struck the Colts (3-0).
In December, Dungy's oldest son, 18-year-old James, committed
suicide in a Florida apartment. In the week leading up to the 2003
AFC championship game, receiver Brandon Stokley missed most of the
team's practices when his infant son was diagnosed with bacterial
Linebacker Gary Brackett, whose mother, father and brother all
died in a 16-month span beginning in 2003, acknowledged he
understood what Wayne was now dealing with and offered to help the
27-year-old receiver however he could.
"I'm definitely here for him when he gets back here because I
personally know what he's going through," Brackett said. "There's
a lot of memories and good times you have with a loved one. Knowing
they're gone, I think the best way you can honor the dead is by the
way you live."
Dungy said the team was still awaiting details about Rashad
Wayne's funeral, and that the Colts hoped to send team members to
Louisiana for the service.
Reggie Wayne played well in Sunday's 21-14 victory over
Jacksonville, catching four passes for 82 yards despite having a
spectacular diving 51-yard catch ruled incomplete after
Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio challenged the call.
It wasn't until after the game that he -- and his teammates --
knew of the accident.
At Monday's light workout, it was clear his teammates were
thinking about him.
"The guys in this locker room, we're like brothers," Stokley said. "We're all playing for Reggie and we're
keeping him in our prayers."
When Wayne might return isn't clear.
Indy makes its second trip to The Meadowlands on Sunday, where
it faces the New York Jets. The Colts beat the Giants 26-21 in the
same venue Sept. 10 in the highly anticipated Manning Bowl.
"I have no idea, we don't even know what the arrangements are,
so this is in the very early stages," team president Bill Polian
said on his weekly radio show Monday. "Obviously, whether Reggie
plays or not is up to him, and, obviously, he has to be ready to
Wayne is second on the team behind Marvin Harrison with 14
catches for 284 yards. In 2005, Wayne dethroned Harrison as the
club's receiving leader by catching a career-high 83 passes for
1,055 yards and five touchdowns.
In 2004, he was part of the NFL's first receiving trio to each
have 1,000-yard seasons and at least 10 TD catches and was rewarded
during the offseason with a six-year, $39 million contract.
Although Wayne has become a key to the Colts' high-scoring
offense, Dungy will not rush him back.
"I know everybody on this team and in this organization will
rally around his family like they did for my family, and we'll make
arrangements to get as much of our organization as we can down
there," Dungy said. "Reggie will be back when he can."