INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts long snapper Matt Overton believes sports and law enforcement have parallels between them. The pregame meeting with the coach is like the police sergeant's daily briefing that lays out the plan for the day. Overton and his teammates need to be tied together in order for the Colts to be successful in the same way police officers need to be on the same page to protect and serve.
It is for those reasons -- and many more -- that Overton wants to make the transition to being a reserve on the police force once his NFL career comes to a close.
"Football has worked out so far and I'm lucky to be here, but I'm also looking at life after football," Overton said. "Being a cop is in my family's blood. My dad was a cop and he just retired this year. He did 31 years in law enforcement, so basically my entire life he's been a cop. It's a passion of mine."
Overton already has started preparation to become an officer. He took part in ride-alongs as a kid and did more this offseason with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Indiana State Police. He's also been present when search warrants were served.
Overton is observing and soaking in as much information while also asking as many questions as possible.
"You sit in the car and watch," he said. "You never know what's going to happen, but the information that they have is pretty legit. They do their research on the house and suspects. They're not going to take me in a high-risk situation. Usually it's no guns involved that they know of. Never been any violence. Usually, it's homes that I've gone to before. That's how I've been learning. Every officer I'm with is different. It's critical for me to see how each officer acts."
Overton also has done training exercises with a SWAT team, realizing it's way easier to snap the ball to punter Pat McAfee than it is to hit a target from a distance using a long-range rifle. Overton is so passionate about law enforcement that he attended the funeral in Kokomo, Indiana -- about an hour north of Indianapolis -- of a sheriff's deputy who was shot and killed in the line of duty while serving a search warrant in March.
"It's kind of a natural progression for Matt to follow along," McAfee said. "You're talking about a guy who loves it. Only few people, like the military, will sign up and do it. Overton definitely wants to do it. He won't be a hard-ass when he's a cop, but he'll make sure the laws are followed."
Overton had a "heart-to-heart" talk with his father, Tom, about joining the police academy in 2011, when it looked like his football career wasn't going anywhere. He had been cut by the Seattle Seahawks, among others, and was bouncing around in different leagues. His father worked in SWAT, vice and narcotics; he them moved up the ranks to become a lieutenant and eventually a captain at the San Leandro, California, police department.
For Matt Overton, joining the force took a backseat when he signed with the Colts in 2012. He's teamed with McAfee and veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri the past four seasons to give the Colts one of the league's top special-teams units.
"I totally understand and want Matt to continue his football career, but I'm also very honored that he wants to follow in my footsteps one day," Tom Overton said. "I'm the only cop in my whole family, and Matt and my other son want to be officers, too. It's really heartfelt that they want do that."
Overton wants to continue playing football until he's in his mid-30s. Then he'll pursue his second love of being a law enforcement official in Indianapolis. The age cutoff for being a member of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is 35.
"Football is my job and hopefully one day I can wear that badge when football is over, but for now I will continue to support and back the men and women of our great law enforcement, support local and national law-enforcement programs," the 30-year-old Overton said. "Being a part of the reserves is kind of more fitting for me. The time restraint and the commitment is not as much as a full-time employee. At that time, hopefully I'm raising a family by then. [The NFL] takes a lot of time, so I'm not sure if I can take more time away from family when football is over."