Jeff Saturday took a lot of flak last week after being named interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Without any previous coaching experience beyond the high school level, the former ESPN analyst jumped the line into a prime role coveted by many assistant coaches around the NFL, and many of his colleagues on both sides were displeased. However, he won his NFL debut and now wants to inspire other former players to make a similar jump into coaching.
Saturday told Peter King of Football Night in America that he hopes he can be an inspiration to other former NFL players to look for opportunities like this one.
“Part of the reason why I did accept the job is for that exact reason,” Saturday told King. “I hope that many other former players will get opportunities like I’m getting. I was at ESPN when Aaron Boone was there, and then two days later he’s the manager of the Yankees. And basketball, right? I’ve watched all these guys get these opportunities. Like I told the team, my leadership is the number one quality. I’ve talked to Tony Dungy, I’ve talked to Jim Caldwell. Those were the two men who led me the most. Both told me to drive into who I was as a player, as a leader of men during those times. Lean on those things that you’re extremely good at. And that’s uniting people. I told the staff and I told the players, my job is to empower them to be the best they can be.”
“I respect his opinion, you know?” Saturday said. “Here’s the thing. God is my defender, man. I don’t have to defend myself. I am absolutely comfortable in who I am. I respect all those guys. Whoever has whatever negative opinion, I can assure you, it’s not gonna change who I am or what I believe I’m called to do. I have no idea, and I still don’t, how successful I’ll be, but we’re gonna work hard at it and I believe I can lead men and lead the staff. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
“I had no idea that he said that,” Saturday said. “I can assure you, I have never gone drinking with Jim. I don’t even know that Jim drinks. I don’t drink very much either. I don’t know Joe. I’m not worried about what Joe thinks about me or anybody else. Like I told you, the Lord will defend. I feel like I’ve been called to do it, so I made the decision to do it. Again, no disrespect to either of those men. They are who they are and said what they said. It will not sway me.”
The Colts are 1-o so far under Saturday, although they played the lowly Las Vegas Raiders. We’ll get a better sense of how Saturday matches up in the NFL next week when the Colts host the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.