That's just one of the reasons second-year quarterback Andrew Luck defers to Wayne as the leader of the offense.
He could have walked away as a free agent after Indianapolis finished 2-14 in 2011. There was a strong offer from at least one other franchise — reportedly the New England Patriots, though Wayne has never confirmed it — and the receiver came close to selling his house in Indiana.
But when Pagano got the Colts head coaching job, one of his first calls was to Wayne. He asked for his long-time friend's trust and said he'd make sure the journey was worth the veteran's investment.
Wayne agreed to return, then went out and helped Indianapolis secure a surprise 11-5 season and an AFC wild card playoff spot last year. This year, the Colts are off to a 4-1 start. And Wayne's right in the middle of it all with a team-high 28 catches for 365 yards and two scores.
"It's in his DNA," Pagano said. "All he wants to do is win. And whatever he has to do to help us win, that's what he's going to do. From day one, we never used the 'R' word (rebuilding) around here. Nobody was allowed to use it. So he was just another one of those guys that led the charge. He's the guy with the sword and shield running up the hill. And guys followed him."
They still do.
Second-year wide receiver T.Y. Hilton grinned like a schoolboy during training camp when he was asked how it felt to have his locker moved next to Wayne's at Lucas Oil Stadium. Free-agent addition Darrius Heyward-Bey attached himself to Wayne almost as soon as he entered the team's facility and has shadowed the veteran's every move.