Reggie Wayne wasn't an employee of the New England Patriots for very long, but it certainly wasn't a waste of time.
Wayne was a free agent in 2015 after a brilliant 14-year career with the Indianapolis Colts, who drafted the wide receiver in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He signed with the Patriots in the preseason that year, and included in his contract was a $450,000 signing bonus.
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The veteran wideout ultimately decided to retire before Week 1 of the regular season. Wayne offered to give back his signing bonus, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told him that wasn't needed. As you might imagine, Wayne was very appreciative of the gesture.
“I went up to him and I said, ‘Hey, this is what it is. I know got a signing bonus. I’ll give it back, no biggie,” Wayne said on the "Hellipod" podcast with NFL Media's Dan Hellie. ”Bill Belichick told me to keep it, man. Told me to keep it. I’m like, ‘Hey, you ain’t got to bend my arm back twice.’ He told me to keep it. And that was love, man. And I always had respect for him. I’ve heard people and seen stuff that he’s done on camera of his respect for me, and maybe that was just his sign of appreciation. We had a lot of battles against that team, so he told me to keep it. We kept it in the bank. I appreciate it. Hey, the best job ever.”
Earning $450,000-plus for a couple weeks of work is pretty good. That really does sound like the best job ever.
Wayne's also correct when he says the Colts had a ton of battles against the Patriots. Whether it was the many memorable regular season games or the classic playoff matchups in 2003, 2004 and 2006, Wayne had a front row seat to one of the best rivalries in league history.
It didn't work out with the Patriots, but it sounds like Wayne left with plenty of respect for Belichick and the organization.