Reggie Wayne exuded maturity when he walked into the St. Regis Resort Ballroom on Saturday night. Accompanied by his family and holding one of his young sons, Wayne didn't look like a receiver who had caught 106 passes for 1,355 yards this past season. He looked like a regular dad.
The Athletes First Classic, a charity event hosted by David Dunn's powerhouse agency Athletes First, honored Wayne, the six-time Pro Bowler, and local philanthropist Stephanie Argyos, raising more than $1 million for the Orangewood Children's Foundation in the process.
With behemoths like Ray Lewis, Clay Matthews, Von Miller, Nate Solder and Terrence Cody in attendance, the thing that stood out most about Wayne was his relatively normal stature at 6-0 and 198 pounds. At 34, he's coming off one of his most prolific seasons, which made it fitting that the young quarterback who helped him bounce back, Andrew Luck, was the one to present Wayne with the award.
When asked to describe Wayne's game, many of his colleagues praised his consistency. Considering he's only had one season below 1,000 receiving yards since 2004 (two years ago when he caught for 960), Wayne's mastery of the wide receiver position continues to set the bar high for young receivers such as Ryan Broyles, Michael Floyd and USC standout Robert Woods, all of whom were in attendance.
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer served as Master of Ceremonies while veterans Matt Schaub and Chris Cooley, up-and-comers Doug Martin and Shane Vereen, as well as prospects Woods, TJ McDonald, and Mike Glennon, attended the gala in support of Irvine-based Athletes First's charity event.
"Our mission with Athletes First is that we put the athletes first," Athletes First president Brian Murphy said. "You're not just helping the athletes on the field, but as people. One way is to give back to the community, using your resources to make a difference in the world. We started the Classic to give back ... Charity is really high on our list and it's important to us. It's part of our joy to help."
The night was a rousing success, not only for the Orangewood Foundation, which will use the seven figures worth of donations to help Orange County-based children in the foster care system, but for Wayne as well.
Consistency often goes overlooked in professional sports, but for Wayne, the night was a toast to reliability. The future Hall-of-Famer won't let that go to his head though, as he's got bigger fish to fry. Like getting his team back to the playoffs and getting his kids to crash after a raucous night.
Here is what some of the attendees had to say when asked for a short and sweet description of Wayne.
Ryan Mallet: "Consistent. He's a playmaker."
Joseph Fauria: "Beast."
Mike Glennon: "I can't think of one word. When I think of Reggie Wayne, I just think of Peyton Manning throwing touchdowns to him."
Chris Cooley: "Dependable."
Robert Woods: "I've been studying him and Marvin Harrison on tape for a long time, and he's just a great route-runner, great hips, and someone I strive to be like in the NFL."
Nate Solder: "Dependable."