Jeff Saturday’s hire is Exhibit A about what’s wrong with the NFL. It’s not consistent. It’s not fair, especially when it comes to its Black coaches.
Saturday, the former Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman, was named interim coach by his former team on Monday.
Simply put, Saturday is unqualified for the job.
He has no coaching experience in college or in the NFL as an assistant.
Saturday went from talking about football on TV to coaching an NFL team overnight.
He must be a genius football guru.
Nope. He’s simply the latest member of the White Privilege Club. This hire is even bad for the NFL that disregarded Black coaches so much that it had to make a rule and force white owners to interview Black candidates. In the last few years, they also added incentives to sweeten the pot.
Colts owner Jim Irsay said it was a gut-feeling to hire Saturday. That’s what you say when there’s no resume to point to. “Want to bet against this guy?,” Irsay said at the press conference, defending his hire. “Put your money down. (I’d) love to see it, because I know what he’s about.”
Irsay could care less that the NFL is 70 percent Black. You would think the talent pool would be plentiful to choose from. Naw, this is the Good Ol’ Boys Network at its finest.
This is the same league that had a head coach who didn’t even play football beyond the youth level. But somehow, Todd Haley became the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. He played golf in college.
That’s right. His dad was a long-time NFL executive who got him in through the back door.
This is how the NFL operates. It’s nothing new. It’s disgraceful.
And for all those peeps who have downplayed Saturday’s hiring, saying it’s no big deal to be an interim coach, they couldn’t be more wrong.
Hiring Saturday — with no previous experience except coaching high school — legitimizes him now. It also give him the inside track to getting the full-time gig and a four-year contract. “This is for eight games, hopefully more,” Irsay said about Saturday’s opportunity.
It will also make him attractive to other owners. Of course, they will want to interview him and see what Irsay saw in him to give a man with no experience a coveted job, one of just 32 on the planet.
Reggie Wayne should have gotten this job. After all, he checks a lot of the same boxes as Saturday — a former Colt that won a championship in the city. He was a beloved player by fans in that town. He’s the Colts’ all-time leader in games played.
Better yet, Wayne is already actually a coach on the staff. He leads the wide receivers. It would have been a natural. Most of the time, an interim coach comes from the staff already in place. You don’t bring in someone completely new and try to change everything on the fly, halfway through the season.
Saturday is in a no-lose situation. The Colts are bad and there are no expectations from here on out. If they win any games, Saturday will look like a miracle worker. And, don’t forget, he will be praised to the high heavens.
If he doesn’t win, Irsay can say it wasn’t fair to thrust Saturday into such a situation. He will say the organization can’t fairly evaluate Saturday because he doesn’t have his own players and quarterback yet. And don’t forget, the Colts will claim that Saturday has changed the culture — even if it hasn’t shown up in the win-loss column yet. That’s also an easy one to throw in to boost someone’s stock. That’s because it can’t be measured. In other words, it’s phony.
Just like the Rooney Rule.
It’s a farce, a dog-and-pony show. It has done little to get Black coaches real opportunities at jobs. Mostly, it gets the Black applicant a free meal and hotel points. The team simply gets to check the required box and hire the guy they wanted all along. Saturday’s hiring has to remind you of Matt Millen’s hiring as general manager in Detroit. Somehow, the Ford family listened to Millen talk football on TV and figured he was so smart and could run their organization.
So with no experience, they turned over the keys to Millen. He went on to become arguably the worst GM in American sports history. Millen’s Lions went on to go 0-16 in 2008.
Saturday’s hiring isn’t just a bad look for the league; it’s deeper than that. It tells you how nothing has changed in the NFL. It’s still about who you know, not what you know.