Reggie Wayne won't let himself start thinking about it until Nashville. Up to that point in the ride, it's only music. A lot of very loud music.
The Colts veteran receiver will soon pack his car and make the same 16-hour drive he makes after every season finishes. He'll head home to Miami. On the way, after he blasts music the first four hours, he'll begin to think about whether or not he wants to return for a 15th season with the Indianapolis Colts.
"Once I hit Nashville, I'll figure out the rest," Wayne said Monday, a day after Indianapolis fell 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game to New England. "I'll make my outline and go from there. I don't have a plan. I've never had one. I just gotta make a couple phone calls, say a couple of prayers and see what route the good Lord sends me."
Wayne is a free agent come March. Retire or return? It's the decision he'll weigh while he drives home to his wife and three sons in South Beach and ponders if he's played his last game in the NFL.
While it's uncertain whether the Colts want the aging wideout back, Wayne reiterated on several occasions late in the season that he can't imagine himself suiting up for any other team. It appears he'll either play for the Colts or he won't play at all.
"I haven't talked to Reggie yet," owner Jim Irsay said before the divisional round of the playoffs. "We haven't started to really have any deep conversations with Chuck (Pagano) and Ryan (Grigson) and I in terms of how the roster's going to shape up after this.
"He's had an unbelievable career," Irsay continued. "For the future, we haven't decided yet."
But would Pagano – a friend of Wayne's dating back to their Miami days in the late 1990s – really be surprised if he saw No. 87 come the opening day of training camp in late July?
"Would I be shocked? No," said the Colts coach. "You guys know how Reggie's wired, you know his work ethic."
If Wayne does elect to return with the Colts, he may be in line for a pay cut. His production waned significantly down the stretch – the 36-year-old was never the same after he hurt his elbow in a Week 7 win over Cincinnati. Wayne just completed the third and final year of a $17.5 million deal he signed before the 2012 campaign.
His body of work through 14 seasons remains one of the most prolific by a wide receiver in NFL history: He's seventh all-time in catches (1,070), eighth in yards (14,345) and 22nd in touchdowns (82). Since 2001, no receiver in the league has caught more passes or hauled in more yards.
"I do have family (to call)," Wayne said of the impending decision. "I'll call them, sit down with them and we'll talk. A lot of times I make calls to them just to make sure I stay up on the road."
He's coming off his least-productive full season since 2002 – his second year in the league – and was nearly invisible down the stretch while the Colts advanced one game shy of Super Bowl XLIX. Wayne finished with 64 catches for 779 yards and two touchdowns but had just one catch on five targets in three playoff games.
His season started strong. Wayne was Wayne again, it appeared, after his 2013 campaign was lost seven weeks in last October when he crumpled to the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium one night with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
He worked his way back and resembled the Reggie of old early on in 2014: Nine catches for 98 yards in Week 1, seven catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in Week 4. He was back.
When it soured, though, it soured quickly. Wayne injured his left elbow in a Week 7 win over Cincinnati. After missing one game, he returned to play in every one the rest of the way. Problem was: He wasn't the same player. He caught just 17 balls over the final six weeks of the regular season and didn't score a single touchdown.
That elbow injury turned out to be a partially-torn triceps – he'll undergo surgery soon – and he aggravated his groin in a Week 17 win in Tennessee. On Monday, a day after his fourth postseason loss to New England, he showed up at the team's 56th Street facility to clean out his locker and enter the unknown of the offseason.
Wayne was asked if Sunday's loss might've been the last time he steps foot on an NFL field.
"The last thing on my mind," he said. "The first thing on my mind (this morning) was, 'Who the hell is going to help me clean out my locker?' I haven't even thought of it. That's not something I go out of my way to even worry about. It's already written, man. There's nothing I can do about that."
Late this season, Wayne moved past longtime teammate Peyton Manning and became the franchise's all-time leader in games played. He's made the playoffs in 12 of 14 seasons. He's earned six Pro Bowl nods. He's played in two Super Bowls and helped the Colts to the 2006 world championship.
On Monday, as the team gathered to close the book on the 2014 season, he addressed his offensive teammates about how the little things always seem to catch up to teams in the playoffs. None could say for sure if Wayne's played his final game as a Colt.
"I'm not going to think about that right now, so I won't opine on that," quarterback Andrew Luck said.
"He already knows he's got to talk to me about it before he makes a decision," his understudy at receiver, T.Y. Hilton, said late in the season.
Wayne's in no rush – "I'll be somewhere warm thinking about it and I'll go from there," he said – while he swallows the reality of another season falling short of the Colts' ultimate goal. Regardless, his legacy is secure, his place in franchise lore undisputed.
He was one of the best ever to wear the horseshoe. Now he has a decision to make.
"The game will fade for all of us," Pagano said. "But the relationships will last forever."