Jeff Saturday had numerous hurdles to jump over upon accepting the job of interim coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Along with having to try to get the Colts ready face the Raiders, Saturday also had to deal with outside criticism that included shots from a future Hall of Fame offensive lineman and a Hall of Fame coach.
The former lineman, Joe Thomas, said the Colts' decision to hire Saturday was to the NFL as well as the league's coaches. Thomas also accused Colts owner Jim Irsay of merely hiring one of his "drinking buddies." The Hall of Fame coach, Bill Cowher, took it a step further, saying that Saturday's hiring was Saturday was asked about both comments following the Colts' victory over the Raiders.
"I had no idea that he said that," Saturday said of Thomas' comments during an interview with NBC Sports' Peter King. "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."
Saturday said he respects Cowher's opinion when asked about the former Steelers coach's comments that were made during CBS Sports' "The NFL Today."
"Here's the thing. God is my defender, man," Saturday said while alluding to Cowher's criticism. "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."
One of the reasons why Saturday said that he took the job is to possibly help other former players get coaching opportunities. Saturday referenced Aaron Boone, who also worked for ESPN before getting the opportunity to manage the New York Yankees.
Saturday said that his job as interim coach is to do his best to empower and support the coaches and players "to be the best that they can be." He said his ability as a leader and uniter are the things he will lean on during his time as interim coach.
While it was only one game, the Colts played winning football with Saturday serving in his current role on Sunday. Saturday's fingerprints were clearly on the Colts' 25-20 win. Matt Ryan, who was re-inserted into the starting lineup by Saturday after spending the previous two weeks on the bench, scored two touchdowns and completed 75% of his passes without committing a turnover. The Colts' offense piled up 415 yards under 30-year-old Parks Frazier, formerly the team's assistant quarterbacks coach who Saturday elevated to offensive coordinator.
"I thought Parks did a hell of a job," Ryan said, via the Colts' website. "That's a hard situation. And the first time doing it, to come on the road, to have all the changes that we had this week — I thought he did a great job. ... Parks is going to be a really good coach in this league for a long time."
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It appears that, for now, Saturday is pushing the right buttons in Indianapolis. And while the situation has clearly ruffled some feathers on the outside, Saturday said the decision was based on his family's motto.
"If life isn't an adventure, it's not worth living," Saturday said. "We want an adventure in our life. We teach our kids that. I told her, listen, I've been around this game for 25 years, playing, coaching and even more from the media.
"I've never heard of a player having the opportunity to go be a head coach. First of all, I would want it because I love this organization. I care about not only the players and coaches but the organization, right? My adulthood was forged here. It is my home. Indianapolis totally changed the direction of our lives. So how do you say no to this? So I said I'm gonna do it."