In one of the neatest things you may ever see in the joke that has become the Pro Bowl, former UNC standout Jeff Saturday, who recently announced his retirement, switched teams and snapped the ball to his 11-year quarterback Peyton Manning one last time.
All-Pro center Jeff Saturday, who was an All-ACC player for the Tar Heels under Mack Brown in the mid-90s, played for the Indianapolis Colts for 13 seasons and was Peyton Manning's center for over 200 games. With the Andrew Luck era beginning in Indy and Manning famously taking off for Denver, Saturday quietly went to Green Bay to anchor the offensive line for another MVP quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.
Saturday was named to his 6th Pro Bowl this season and just this week announced his retirement from football at age 37. Manning was also named to the Pro Bowl, but as a Denver Bronco, Manning would be playing for the AFC while Saturday the Packer would be playing for the NFC. That's when one of the coolest things in Pro Bowl history happened.
Late in the first quarter with the AFC in possession of the ball and Manning in at QB, Saturday jogged out to the AFC huddle and lined up at center with the AFC line to make one final snap to his old quarterback. Afterwards, Saturday and Manning exchanged hugs and Manning gave Saturday the ball.
As a former center, I can tell you there is a special bond between a center and a quarterback, much less a pair like that who played over 200 games together. It turned out to be a special moment in a game that has become a laughingstock in the past few years.
Best wishes to Jeff Saturday in his retirement.