Coincidentally, those three guys played vital roles in Indy’s Super Bowl run in the 2006 NFL season.
For Brackett’s part, he wrote a feel-good story worth reading all over again.
Gary Brackett Became Captain Of The Colts Defense During Their Glory Years
The Colts signed Brackett as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers University in 2003.
Brackett started his NFL career as a backup linebacker and special teams player that year.
His first year of pro football coincided with the beginning of the Colts’ dominance in the 2000s.
Indy averaged a gaudy 12 wins per year from 2002 to 2010.
The Colts won seven division titles and a Super Bowl championship during that time frame.
Colts head coach Tony Dungy‘s renowned Tampa 2 defense was one of the reasons behind Indy’s dominance.
Brackett was an integral part of the defense – he had 144 solo tackles as a middle linebacker from 2003 to 2005.
Brackett’s moment of glory with the Horseshoe came on January 15, 2006.
The Colts squared off against Ben Roethlisberger‘s Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2005 AFC Divisional Round on that day.
The Steelers led 21-3 late in the third quarter – it seemed like a laugher from the opening kickoff.
However, the Colts clawed their way back.
Legendary Steelers running back Jerome “The Bus” Bettis had a chance to put the Colts away when he tried to run the ball into the end zone with 1:17 left in the game.
NEVER FORGET: #Steelers versus #Colts in the playoffs and the Ben Roethlisberger (@_BigBen7) game-saving tackle after the Jerome Bettis fumble on this day 14 years ago. (Jan. 15, 2006) pic.twitter.com/Cxsu1e00Sx
— Steelers Depot 7⃣ (@Steelersdepot) January 15, 2020
Brackett came out of nowhere to jar the ball loose with his helmet.
Bettis fumbled, Colts cornerback Nick Harper scooped up the loose ball at the 8-yard line and began running toward the opposite end zone.
Fortunately for the Steelers, Roethlisberger made a game-saving tackle on Harper near Pittsburgh’s 40-yard line.
Alas, Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt‘s potential game-tying kick sailed wide right toward the end of regulation.
It was one of the most painful losses during the Peyton Manning era in Indy.
However, it was crystal clear Brackett was a force on the defensive end.
No less than Bettis, a six-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Famer, paid homage to Brackett in his autobiography several years later.
He dubbed Brackett’s play “an absolute perfect hit” in his book.
Had Harper scored a touchdown, Bettis’ legendary pro football career would’ve ended at the RCA Dome that day.
It wasn’t surprising when Dungy named Brackett defensive captain the following season.
Brackett also racked up a career-high three forced fumbles that year.
Bashed all season long for their porous run defense, the Colts defense regrouped after Sanders returned from his regular-season injury in the postseason.
Brackett anchored a defense that helped the Colts beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI, 29-17.
He earned his first and only Super Bowl ring.
On tomorrow’s episode we spent a lot of time discussing the Pacers…but we had a very special guest join the show.
— Setting The Pace🏀🎙 (@SettingThePace3) January 31, 2020
He racked up 389 combined tackles over the next four seasons.
Brackett suited up in just one game for the Colts during his injury-ravaged 2011 NFL season.
The Colts eventually released him in the spring of 2012.
Brackett hung up his cleats shortly after his release from Indianapolis.
He had 712 combined tackles, 12 interceptions, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one pick-six, and two fumble recoveries for touchdowns in his nine-year NFL career.
Brackett quietly rose from obscurity and became Colts defensive captain through sheer hard work and determination.
He was the classic example of winning games in the trenches.