In the moments following the Indianapolis Colts’ upset of Green Bay in October, Samson Satele went looking for the player he idolizes.
It’s what centers do.
Just as quarterbacks greet opposing signal-callers and receivers seek out other receivers in order to shake hands, bump fists or briefly embrace, oft-overlooked snappers of the football have their own fraternity.
After all, who understands the many complexities associated with what appears to be the simplest of game-day procedures better than another center?
The exchange between Satele and another bearded warrior, the Packers’ Jeff Saturday, was cordial but brief. And whether anyone realized it at the time, the meeting symbolized the closest thing to a passing of the torch within the confines of the NFL.
THE SATELE FILE
Name: Samson Satele
Job: Indianapolis Colts center
Jersey number: 64
Weight: 299 pounds
Born: Kailua, Hawaii
High school: Kailua High School, 2002
College: University of Hawaii, 2007
Drafted: By the Miami Dolphins in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft
Did you know: Satele majored in sociology in college ... was named first-team All-Western Athletic Conference following his junior and senior seasons ... was Hawaii’s starting center in 2006 when record-setting QB Colt Brennan led the team to an 11-3 record.
Where Satele is, Saturday was. From 1999-2011, with two Super Bowl appearances and five trips to the Pro Bowl, Saturday achieved icon status within the franchise. He’s a surefire Ring of Honor recipient after he retires and might even join the short list of centers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“The man is a legend. I’ve watched a lot of film of him. Jeff is a craftsman, a technician,” said the 6-foot-3, 299-pound Satele, who signed with the Colts in March exactly two days before Saturday inked a two-year deal with Green Bay.
“I just try to work my craft. I watch a lot of tape of Jeff and Nick Hardwick of San Diego,” Satele said. “Nick is a tough guy who puts himself in the right spot all of the time.”
Satele refers to Hardwick, an Indianapolis native who graduated from Lawrence North High School and Purdue University, as one of his closest friends. Hardwick, 31, who at one point played in the Center Grove Bantam League, has been to one Pro Bowl (2006), a plateau the ponytailed Satele continues to work toward.
Maybe this is his time.
After two years with Miami and another three as part of the Oakland Raiders, Satele’s presence has been vital in the Colts’ 7-4 record.
Statistical rankings aside — the team is fifth in the NFL in total offense (386.0 yards) and seventh in passing yardage (277.7) — Satele with 11 starts this season is instrumental in the development of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.
Just as Saturday and Peyton Manning had a language all their own, both verbal and body, so do Satele and Luck.
Satele came to training camp at Anderson University in the summer having previously worked with Carson Palmer in Oakland and Chad Henne, Trent Green and Josh McCown in Miami. Satele had a five-year head start on Luck, which helped pave the way for immediate chemistry between the two.
“I told everyone the first day Andrew came into the huddle, ‘This kid is going to be good,’” Satele said. “He can read my mind. He’s a very smart kid. It’s just about being on the same page.”
As a native of Hawaii, Satele, who is of Samoan ancestry, would love nothing more than to fly home in late-January to play in the NFL Pro Bowl. If Luck is one of the AFC quarterbacks invited to retrieve his snaps, all the better.