Peyton Manning and center Jeff Saturday have started 125 games together. Since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger, only one quarterback-center combination has started more. Buffalo’s Jim Kelly and Kent Hull are the standard of longevity, durability and excellence with 157.
Saturday signed with Baltimore as a free agent from North Carolina in 1998. He was waived six weeks later, three months before his first season would have begun. He was working as an outside sales representative at a Raleigh, N.C., electrical supply store when Polian called in 1999.
Saturday became the starting center the following autumn. He has missed two games in eight years. Manning has started the first 159 regular-season games of his career.
They are centerpieces, staples, stars, world champions, leaders. Manning is the team’s offensive captain. Saturday, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, is its NFL Players Association player representative and a member of the NFL’s inaugural six-man Player Advisory Council.
“Throughout the week, we’ll talk about things we see,” said Saturday, who along with identifying the front and its key defenders, makes the line calls, setting the pass protection and blocking schemes. “I consistently try to ask, ‘What do you like? What makes you comfortable in this protection? Who would you change that we’re assigned to and how we’re going to protect?’ “
I’m grateful to Richards for penning the above bit of puffery because at the very least, it does answer the question “why on earth would Tony Dungy not play Jim Sorgi from start to finish on Sunday?”, as well as providing yet another gratuitous opportunity to link to this.