Jared Veldheer expected to be on the outskirts of East Grand Rapids on Saturday afternoon.
The 11-year-old National Football League veteran retired a year ago after playing two games for Green Bay and had supported coach EGR’s offensive line that season.
The Pioneers will play in a Regional Division 3 playoff game in Muskegon, but Veldheer, a Forest Hills Northern graduate, will play in a separate playoff game with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts, whose offensive line had been decimated by injuries, needed a left attack in last Sunday’s season finale against Jacksonville, a game Indianapolis had to win to advance into the postseason. Then the Colts contacted Veldheer.
After training only Thursday and Friday, Veldheer started the game last weekend and outperformed the Colts in beating the Jaguars between 28 and 14. The 33-year-old Veldheer did not allow a sack and helped the Colts reach a season high of 273 meters.
He’s now looking for another big feat when the Colts visit Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday.
“I helped a little with East Grand Rapids High School and with their O-Line,” Veldheer said during an interview on Tuesday on YouTube. “Their playoffs have been postponed, but they can resume their playoffs this Saturday. So it’s interesting that the Michigan High School playoffs and the NFL coincided that year. “
Veldheer, who starred at Hillsdale College, played his first four seasons in Oakland, followed by four more in Arizona and 2018 in Denver. Green Bay contacted Veldheer last year and played in two postseason games before speaking of a career.
Veldheer stayed in shape, however, just in case his phone rang. Colt’s offensive coach Chris Strausser trained Veldheer in Denver and got in touch a week ago.
“I decided to just remove that word (retirement) from my vocabulary at this point,” said Veldheer. “That’s what I decided then, and later that year I got a call from Coach Strausser, my O-Line coach in Denver, asking if I was interested. It took me a few seconds to think about it and was looking forward to the opportunity to be here in Indy. It’s near home, I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s a good organization, a good team. I enjoy playing for Coach Strausser and have only heard really good things from this organization.
“It seemed like a good fit and I stayed in good enough shape to help a team towards the end of the season.”
The Colts, 11-5, will battle a 13-3 Buffalo team at 1:00 p.m. The lure of a Super Bowl pulled Veldheer out of retirement.
“I made it to a few conference championship games but never past that point,” said Veldheer. “When you sit at home and watch football week after week, it gets really itchy to finally get to the Super Bowl and get a ring. I think something like this made the subconscious mind get in shape and stay ready. “
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