INDIANAPOLIS — There is a secret to Reggie Wayne's success.
The veteran wide receiver's natural talent is readily apparent to anyone who has seen an Indianapolis Colts game in the past 13 seasons. And everyone who has shown up a little early for training camp practices at Anderson University the past four summers knows about Wayne's unparalleled work ethic.
But there's another — far less public — factor that keeps the 34-year-old's engines running. Fear.
Well, maybe that's not the correct word exactly. But it's certainly something close to that.
Wayne always talks about the cold truth of business in the NFL. Every player is expendable. Each year dozens of younger guys are brought into practice facilities around the league with one goal in mind — stealing sombody else's job.
Wayne combats that the only way he knows how — by approaching each season as though its his rookie year and attempting to impress his teammates and coaches all over again.
Former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson said a similar mentality was one of the reasons his teams remained hungry throughout their six NBA championship runs. Wayne has been selected to six Pro Bowls, and he enters tonight's game against the San Diego Chargers needing just four receptions to become the ninth player ever with 1,000 in his career.
But his approach hasn't changed since the day he was drafted.
"Every year he comes in, it's like starting over," said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, whose relationship with Wayne dates back to their mutual days at the University of Miami. "He's got his iPad out, he's got his notepad and he treats it like his rookie year. He takes no days for granted, and he takes no practices for granted."