Reggie Wayne has history with Chuck Pagano. Theirs is a well-founded relationship, established at the University of Miami in the mid-1990s, built on trust, respect and deep affection, nurtured through the years. So what happened on an emotional Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium was no surprise.
Wayne went out and played the greatest game Pagano never coached.
"I've been knowing Chuck for a long time, 16 years," the Indianapolis Colts wide receiver said after contributing 13 catches for a career-high 212 yards and the touchdown that made the Colts 30-27 conquerors over the 2010 world champion Green Bay Packers.
"Great human being, great coach, great personality, great husband. He identifies the word great. To be able to come out and just do it for him, I said to myself I was going to lay it all on the line."
Wayne did that. He was spent, and a little emotional, but in a perfect world he would have had one final duty. The game ball the Colts won for Pagano, their stricken coach, Wayne would have been the man to deliver it.
He delivered all day Sunday.
Wayne's 212 yards were the second fattest receiving total in the Colts' 60 seasons of NFL membership. They are exceeded only by Pro Football Hall of Fame member Raymond Berry, who had 224 yards at Washington on Nov. 10, 1957.
Wayne had the 40th 100-yard game of his much-decorated five-Pro Bowl, 12-year career at halftime: six receptions, 104 yards. He also had one of his most spectacular catches.
On third-and-6, "Reggie time," he beat Pro Bowl safety Charles Woodson and stretching to fullest extension, took an Andrew Luck pass on the fingertips, tipped it, grabbed it and pulled it in, all with his left hand, all while crashing to the turf. It was a 30-yard gain and a first down that set up a field goal.
And on the final, dramatic, decisive play, who else would it be?
Luck went to Wayne in a crowd at the goal line. The veteran receiver snatched the football out of the air, turned, stretched and extended the ball across the goal line for the winning touchdown.
The sellout crowd of 67,020 roared, gasped, then chanted: "Reggie, Reggie, Reggie, Reggie."
"I told him after the game he was the best football player I've ever played with," Luck said. "His leadership at halftime, on the field, before the last drive; I think I learned a lot from him from watching him operate.
"I'm very blessed and fortunate to be on a team with him."
Wayne wore pink shoes to salute Breast Cancer Awareness Month and he was the only man in the stadium in orange gloves.
"I found out this week that orange was the color for (leukemia) so I made some phone calls," Wayne said. "I had our equipment guys make some phone calls to try and get some orange gloves. They were able to do that.
"I wasn't sure how it was going to go as far as getting fined (by the NFL for a uniform violation), but I said I would take this one for the team. If they fine me, they fine me."
Wayne would have no trouble recruiting help to pay that fine, should the league be heartless enough to levy it. He was the man Sunday and he was playing for the man. All the Colts were.
"He left it all on the field," Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis said of Wayne. "We had to follow his lead."