If Cam Heyward didn’t already feel like the old man on the Pittsburgh Steelers, he does now. When he faces the Indianapolis Colts Monday night, he’ll spot Jeff Saturday on the Colts’ sideline, the team’s interim head coach hired three weeks ago.
When Heyward first met Saturday, they were lining up across from each other. As Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley noted Friday, in Heyward’s rookie 2011 season, he faced Saturday – then the Colts’ starting center – on the field.
“People I’ve played against now coaching,” Heyward said via Varley. “It’s a wild, wild time.”
September 25th, 2011. Colts versus Steelers. A primetime matchup, just like Monday night, though this game was of the Sunday night variety. As Pittsburgh hopes to do this time around, they came out on top 23-20 thanks to a Shaun Suisham game-winning field goal in the final seconds. Some other fast facts to illustrate how long ago that was.
– WR Reggie Wayne was still playing the Colts. Now, he’s a semifinalist for this year’s Hall of Fame.
– QB Kerry Collins started for the Colts that day. He turns 50 next month.
– WR Antonio Brown finished the game with 75 yards. At the time, it was his career-high.
– And QB Ben Roethlisberger still had another decade of football left in him.
We are all so very old.
And Heyward, of course, was in his rookie year. A backup and rotational player behind the likes of Aaron Smith and fellow 1st rounder Ziggy Hood, Heyward did not officially show up on the stat sheet that night. However, he did record a tackle on the goal line that was wiped out by a Colts’ penalty. As you see in the photo at the top of the page, there’s #63 Jeff Saturday manning the middle with a rookie Heyward at RDE. Monday night, Heyward will take his spot on the right side. But this time, Saturday will be along the sideline.
Even for a first round pick, it’s rare to see a player like Heyward play for a decade. Saturday has a similar story, playing for well over a decade, though he took the road less travelled, an undrafted free agent who was managing an electrical store before the Colts signed him. Both are and were great players. Saturday should receive more Hall of Fame consideration than he has while Heyward is inching towards being a borderline candidate. Saturday’s now a coach, a surprising choice to replace the fired Frank Reich, but he’s initially proved doubters wrong with a win over the Las Vegas Raiders in his debut and a near upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend.
In their first meeting in a decade, we’ll see who comes out on top Monday night, Heyward or Saturday. And I can’t wait to see what they’re both doing another ten years from now.