INDIANAPOLIS – The passion of playing football was never in question for Anthony Castonzo.
When Castonzo was pondering retirement at the end of the 2019 season, he needed to see how his body reacted to the 16-game season he had just played at the age of 31.
Castonzo wants to keep playing, and not just for one more season, hence the reason for signing a new two-year deal with the Colts.
“Having been healthy and got through the season and I’m kind of looking at it like, ‘Do I think I can play better than that or is that the best I think I can play?’” Castonzo explains of his decision to keep playing. “If I had come away from that saying, ‘I think that’s the best that I can play and it’s downhill from here,’ then I probably would have decided to retire. But after doing some offseason training, kind of getting going and thinking about things, I think that I’ve got a lot of better football and a lot more in me.
“So I decided that I want to keep playing. I love the Colts and I love football. So it ended up being a definite decision with absolutely nothing kind of swaying me in the other direction.”
The work ethic of Castonzo has never been a question, but he did alter his training last offseason, following a trio of hamstring injuries, which forced hm to miss the first five games of 2018.
Under new strength coach Rusty Jones, Castonzo found that he had some imbalances in his body that caused him to not move as efficiently.
This past January was huge for Castonzo to gauge his body moving into the 2020s.
“I didn’t want to delay my training, no matter what, so I kind of got right back to the training, saw how my body felt and was getting it going on things,” Castonzo shares. “I kind of had a little epiphany almost when I was training doing some of the things that I had done last year around this time and just how much better and how smoother my movements were, how much more in tune with my body I was than I was last year at this time. I was seeing it as potential for being able to go out on that field and put forth my best football coming up in Year 10. I’m like it would be silly for me to not do it now. Once I really got into my training was kind of when it hit me. I really love the offseason, I love the structure of it. I love the structure of playing football and being able to kind of work year round and kind of just all those things kind of hit me and I’m like, ‘You know what I’m not ready to hang it up yet.’”
And don’t forget about that two-year commitment.
“I talked to Chris (Ballard), talked to my agent and talked with everybody about how good I am feeling and the fact that if I’m playing football it’s going to be for the Colts,” Castonzo, who will turn 33 in August says. “I wanted to commit to the Colts and that is why the two-year (deal) kind of made sense because at the end of the day after this year I was going to be a free agent again, I would end up signing with the Colts again.
“So it’s just kind of like why do it year-to-year when you can just do a two-year and kind of take it from there?”
Castonzo loves the makeup of Frank Reich, Chris Ballard and Jim Irsay. He also acknowledges that the presence of Quenton Nelson, and the return of the entire starting offensive line, also played into his desire to keep playing.
For the first time in his career, Castonzo was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019.
The Colts are steadfast in thinking Castonzo is without a doubt one of the best left tackles in football. What Castonzo means to the Colts cannot be overstated.
When asked about his play in 2019, Castonzo agrees that he had stretches of playing the best football of his career last season, but he’s adamant there’s more in there.
“I honestly think I have just kind of scratched the surface (laughs),” the 2011 first-round pick of the Colts says. “I’m figuring out a lot of things about my body, about the game, how to move and how to kind of do things more efficiently, really get more out of my offseason training. People say, ‘Work smarter not harder,’ but when you kind of combine both of them and you are able to work harder and smarter you can kind of do a lot. I’ve become pretty excited about the kind of prospects of getting better and better as I get later on in my career here.”
“I play football because I want to dominate the people that I play against. That is where the joy in playing football comes from for me. Looking at it and if I say I think I have the ability to do that – that’s what I love about the game and that’s why I want to continue playing.”