It’s quite possible the Indianapolis Colts have a new cult hero.
Not that Jack Doyle would do anything but blush at teammate Pat McAfee’s assertion that the tight end is becoming larger than life and soaring to super hero status. Doyle proved he was human by missing Wednesday interviews to get treatment. So McAfee, a Pro Bowl punter and proven stand-up comic, spoke on his teammate’s behalf. And then some.
McAfee showed up in the locker room with a “Jack Does Everything” T-shirt, which had four playing cards featuring images of Doyle, whose 4 touchdown receptions are tied with New England’s Martellus Bennett for the most in the NFL by a tight end.
“Jack of hearts is my favorite,” McAfee said of the fourth-year pro, “because Jack has got a big heart.”
The expressive McAfee couldn’t resist having fun at the expense of the undeniably unassuming Doyle, a 26-year-old local kid who has done quite well in making it to the NFL from Indianapolis Cathedral High School. McAfee is always quick to provide a joke, even if Doyle would be embarrassed by the idea of anyone gushing about him.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a competition with Jack Doyle because, much like Chuck Norris, Jack wins every competition,” McAfee said. “It’s one of those things where Jack Doyle could beat up a tornado. That’s what he’s going to do. We’re not going to have any more tornado issues here in Indiana. My heart went out to Kokomo and other parts of our state (hit by a recent tornado), but with Jack Doyle on the case now we’re not going to have any issues. Jack can really take on anything.”
The promotional pitch is even more amusing when considering Doyle entered this league undrafted and unknown. Guys like that typically don’t last. This past offseason, at about the same time Colts tight end Dwayne Allen was signing a four-year, $29.4 million extension, Doyle was content to receive a one-year, restricted free agent tender of $1.671 million. That’s more money he ever thought he would make playing a game.
The oft-injured Allen is sidelined again, so it’s Doyle to the rescue. Doyle delivered a go-ahead, 7-yard touchdown pass reception in the final minutes of Sunday’s 34-26 win at Tennessee. It’s Doyle, not Allen, who caught a career-high 9 passes for 78 yards. Allen, a former third-round pick who has missed 22 games due to injuries in his five seasons, has never caught more than 6 passes in a NFL game.
In 47 games before this season, Doyle had 35 catches for 209 yards and 3 TDs. This season, the 26-year-old tight end has started 6 of 7 games and contributed 29 receptions for 282 yards and 4 scores.
Forty NFL tight ends have been targeted at least 11 times this season. Guess who has the highest catch percentage? Yep, Doyle at 87.9 percent, 29 receptions out of 33 targets.
A star is born?
“You don’t see Indianapolis natives doing this,” McAfee said. “You’re talking about Jack Doyle blossoming into a superstar. I knew him when he was a special-teamer. Now he’s just this touchdown-scoring guy whose face is all over ESPN and fantasy boards. People are talking about naming their kids Jack. I’m happy to support him and I’m happy to know him.”
As soon as pictures of McAfee’s “Jack Does Everything” T-shirt spread on Twitter, the cult hero creation took on steam in social media.
“I once saw Jack Doyle parallel park a train,” one fan tweeted.
Doyle, the epitome of humility, didn’t even take much credit for his important touchdown catch against the Titans.
“T.Y. (Hilton) probably took five guys out of the way and I was open,” he said.
While it’s true Hilton drew double coverage, Doyle still had to pull off a double move to get behind linebacker Avery Williamson. Titans coach Mike Mularkey gave Doyle credit for being very patient in selling an underneath route before turning toward the back of the end zone.
“It was well designed and well executed,” Mularkey said.
Colts running back Frank Gore, in his 12th season, considers Doyle one of his best teammates ever.
“He is going to continue to do everything right every day,” Gore said. “I am just proud of him. He always tries to do everything right, and when you do that, things happen for you like this. I’m very happy for him.”
McAfee dismissed the need to speak to Doyle this day.
“He’s going to give the most boring interview of all time,” McAfee said. “That’s what Jack Doyle does. I don’t think he thinks at all because everything he does is perfect.”
Doyle has been known to spout his share of cliches and coach speak. His Sunday postgame interview was proof, when asked about the Colts bouncing back from a 26-23 overtime loss at Houston the previous week.
“It shows what kind of guys we have,” Doyle said. “It shows we have the type of guys that will bounce back and be ready to roll and know that it is a new week. Another week is coming next week, so we will have to forget about this one and get ready to roll again.”
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has said in the past that a NFL team can never have enough Jack Doyles, the kind of guy who continually works hard and does anything asked without one word of complaint and appreciates every minute of living the life without ever demanding the spotlight.
Doyle doesn’t need to make any demands, not with McAfee representing him.
“The only real truth at the end of the day is Jack Doyle,” the punter said.