As reviews arrive, Saturday is applauded

July, 25, 2011
7/25/11
4:03
PM ET

Few people come out of months of NFL labor discord looking better than the Colts' Jeff Saturday.

The center heading toward his 13th season drew praise from New England owner Robert Kraft as one of two players on the NFLPA’s executive committee, along with Baltimore’s Domonique Foxworth, who worked tirelessly for the long-term interest of the game.

[+] EnlargeJeff Saturday and Robert Kraft
AP Photo/Carolyn KasterPatriots owner Robert Kraft owner, left, is hugged Monday by Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts after the lockout ended.
When Saturday's turn to talk came at the news conference announcing the players had agreed to the new CBA and the deal was officially done, he complimented Kraft’s dedication and thanked Myra Kraft, who recently passed away, for encouraging her husband to be such an important part of the process.

Saturday then embraced Kraft, who was clearly touched. It's a moment that is sure to come to be the picture representing the new peace between the owners and players.

Via text, I asked NFLPA president Kevin Mawae about how crucial Saturday was to the process.

“Both he and Domonique Foxworth were instrumental in that they were the two who were in every meeting since June 28 in Chicago,” Mawae said. “There were times when I couldn’t be there or any other member of the executive committee couldn’t and they were the two who were. I can’t say enough about how they played a major part in all of it.”

Saturday spoke of how happy he will be to trade a negotiating board room for a football meeting room.

Later in a phone interview on ESPN, he was asked about Peyton Manning’s rehabilitation from neck surgery.

“That’s by far my biggest concern now,” Saturday said. “As he goes, the Colts go. We need him to get back as healthy as he can as quick as he can.”

Even with the lockout, it's possible the Colts' top two draft picks win starting jobs on the offensive line during training camp. It's possible Saturday could be surrounded by four new starters as he looks to direct a group charged with offering Manning better protection and creating more space for the run game.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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