Reggie Wayne on Peyton Manning Week: 'Y'all turning this into a circus'

All that’s missing, implied Reggie Wayne, were clowns and parading elephants and the sound of a kaleidoscope in the background as the media encircled his cubicle in the Colts locker room.

“It’s like Ringling Bros., man,” Wayne said. “Y’all turning this into a circus.”

It’s Peyton Manning Week. The return to where it all began in April 1998 — and ended in March 2012 — for the NFL’s only four-time Most Valuable Player and the most decorated and revered player in the Colts’ 30-year history in Indianapolis.

Wayne, not nearly as loquacious as is his norm, shrugged. Often.

“It’ll be just like any other game. No different,” he said of the return of the quarterback who threw the ball on 779 of his 1,001 catches. “I don’t know what you want me to tell you.

“We see it as another game. You guys see it a little bit different. It’s another game, man.”

But it’s a reunion of epic proportions. The team will honor Manning’s return with a ceremony prior to kickoff. Former standouts and Ring of Honor inductees Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James are expected to participate. A videoicon1 tribute has been produced.

The extent of Manning’s involvement, if any considering he always has been adamant about sticking to his pre-game routine, remains to be seen.

“That’s Peyton’s deal,” Wayne said. “I hope I’m in the locker room. I want to be in the locker room.”

Wayne and Manning formed a close bondduring their 11 years together and Wayne said they still talkicon1 and text. “It’s not like I hadn’t spoken to him since he’s left,” Wayne added.

Throughout his 10-minute session with the media, Wayne expressed his appreciation of and affection for his former quarterback. But he refused to dive in headfirst when the line of questioning inevitably found itself back to Manning’s return.

What is the atmosphere going to be like Sunday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium?

“You’ve got to ask people in the stands,’’ Wayne said. “(With) all the pub and the media, yeah, it’s going to be different. I don’t see this many people unless it’s a playoff game.”

Will it be awkward facing your friend and former teammate?

“It’s not awkward for me at all. It doesn’t change my intensity,” Wayne said. “The awkward part is with people in the stands. That’s for them.

“I go through this every week. There’s somebody I play every week that I used to play with. Am I grateful for having him as a teammate? Absolutely. We’ve done a lot together. But I did a lot of stuff with Edgerrin James, and we played against him. I did a lot of stuff with Mike Peterson, and we played against him.”

As unique as the reunion is, it — as Wayne notes — is one tailored more to the Colts as an organization and the city of Indianapolis than the teammates Manning left behind. Only 13 players on the Colts’ 53-man active roster actually were teammates of Manning.

“My first time playing against him and I’ve never met him,” cornerback Vontae Davis said. “It’s a game. That’s how I look at it.”

Greg Toler faced Manning in 2009 while he was a cornerback with the Arizona Cardinals, and met him during a recent offseason.

“At Larry Fitzgerald’s camp or Donald Driver’s camp,” Toler said. “But, no, I don’t have any emotional ties at all. I understand how it might be (more) with Reggie or a few other guys. Over the years they had some ups and down. This week it’s like they’ll be playing against a brother. And Robert (Mathis) as well having a chance to tackle Peyton.

“Maybe it’s an emotional roller coaster for some, but it’s just football.I’ll pay homage. He’s a great player. You can’t take anything away from what he’s done. You pay your respects and move on.”

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