Powers knows all about Peyton
Ex-Decatur High star talks Colts, city pride
By Mark Edwards
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Indianapolis Colts defensive back Jerraud Powers, left, signs the jersey of Jake Smallwood during an autograph session at Hibbett Sports in Decatur on Saturday.
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As a rookie defensive back with the Indianapolis Colts, Decatur High graduate Jerraud Powers wasn’t much different from a typical football fan when he first joined the team — he wanted to meet the star player, All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning.
Turns out, Manning wanted to meet Powers, too. As a former All-American at Tennessee, Manning seemed especially interested in Powers, a former Auburn standout who had helped beat the Vols the previous year.
“It was funny because I tried to play it cool and say, ‘What’s up, Pete?’ Everybody there calls him Pete,” said Powers, who will turn 23 on July 19. “He wanted to talk about when we played Tennessee. He was at the game, and it was like he remembered the whole game.”
Powers said the cool demeanor slipped just once during that initial meeting.
“I might’ve slipped a ‘Mister’ in there,” Powers said with a smile.
“I might’ve called him Mr. Manning. He laughed. The thing about Peyton is that he makes everybody feel comfortable. He’s a great guy. He doesn’t act like you think a mega-superstar would act. He was the first one to stand up and welcome the rookies to the team.”
Powers joked that he gets asked so often about Manning these days that “when I’m asked to come appear at some of these events, I wonder if they’re asking me to come talk about Peyton.”
However, on Saturday morning, it was all about Powers as he donated his time to appear at an American Red Cross fundraiser at Hibbett’s Sporting Goods at Decatur Mall. The two-hour autograph and picture session drew about 200 fans. After an initial crowd arrived for the start of the session, a steady trickle of fans flowed in afterward.
Several fans wore Colts jerseys, and while a couple had Manning’s No. 18, a few wore Powers’ No. 25, drawing a smile from the hometown football star.
Powers said he was asked to help by the American Red Cross’ Debbie Heard, whose son attended Decatur High with Powers.
“It’s all for a good cause and helping the community, so I’m glad I could come,” said Powers, who attended the event after helping coach at a free speed camp Saturday morning at Decatur High, which was put together by former Decatur teammate Taye Biddle.
Powers said Decatur High has given him bragging rights recently with his Colts teammate, linebacker Clint Session, who graduated from Blanche Ely High in Pompano Beach, Fla. Session’s alma mater had two players drafted this year, including Auburn defensive back Walt McFadden, who was Powers’ roommate with the Tigers.
“I said, ‘We got the No. 8 pick overall in Rolando (McClain). Taye went to Decatur, and Philip (Rivers) of the Chargers is from Decatur,’ ” Powers said. “It’s great that we have these guys coming up and playing in the NFL. It shows the kids from here that it’s a possibility.”
Powers said he is good friends with McClain, who will be a rookie linebacker with the Oakland Raiders this fall, and Biddle, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings in January after spending time with the Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, New York Giants and a UFL team. However, he hasn’t met Rivers, the Pro Bowl quarterback with San Diego.
“It’s crazy that we’ve never met,” Powers said. “It always seems that when I’m coming into town, he’s leaving, or when he’s coming in, I’m leaving,” Powers said. “He’s close friends with one of my former Decatur teammates, Steven Leach. We play the Chargers this year, and I hope we meet then.
“Maybe I’ll pick one of his passes, hopefully. He’s a hell of a football player, and I’d like to meet him.”
Powers said he has spent time with McClain since the draft and has fielded a few questions from his Decatur friend about life in the NFL.
McFadden also has called upon Powers with questions about professional football.
Powers said that the NFL is a “tough business.”
“You have to pay attention to the business side of it,” he said. “There are no guarantees you’ll be there even the next day. I remember when I went to camp with the Colts, there were 96 players at the start, and at the end, we were down to 53.”
As for the football part, Powers said he has told McClain and McFadden “it’s the same game, but it’s just you’re wearing different colors than you were.”
Even though Powers faces the possibility that he could be out of the league quickly, “it’s the best job in the world.”
As for his personal life, he is making one change there after next season — he will get married March 19 to Leah Smith of Muscle Shoals. He said they met through mutual friends.
Donating to the Red Cross
The Indianapolis Colts’ Jerraud Powers donated his time for an autograph and picture session Saturday to benefit the American Red Cross. If you would like to give to the Red Cross, you can do so by calling 256-353-4891 or through mail at P.O. Box 297, Decatur, AL 35601.
Powers’ top performers
When asked to name some of the best NFL players he faced as an Indianapolis Colts rookie defensive back, Jerraud Powers didn’t have any trouble coming up with some names.
Best running back: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings. “He’s a different breed.”
Best receiver: Derrick Mason, Baltimore Ravens. “He always gave me a hard time.”
Best quarterback: Tom Brady, New England Patriots. “Without a doubt, he was the best.”