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Former NFL star blasts Indianapolis Colts for hiring Jeff Saturday

Chris Phillips
NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts’ decision to hire former center Jeff Saturday as their interim head coach drew plenty of criticism and skepticism after the move. Now, a former NFL star is becoming the latest to speak out against the decision.

Saturday earned plenty of accolades during his playing career. From 1999-2011 with the Colts, he earned six Pro Bowl selections, was named to the NFL All-Pro team four times and is a member of the Colts’ Ringer of Honor. However, the only coaching experience on the 47-year-old’s resume came as the head coach for Hebron Christian Academy (2017-’20).

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While final judgments of the Saturday hiring will come at the end of the season, many outside the organization are skeptical of the system in place and the process used by owner Jim Irsay. Appearing on Frida’s Good Morning America, former Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas didn’t hold back his criticisms of what happened in Indianapolis.

Joe Thomas calls out Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts

Thomas knows about the influence bad decision-making and a flawed process at the top can have on a football team. In his final two NFL seasons, Cleveland finished with a 1-31 record. For the eight-time All-Pro selection, the Colts’ process is one of the most egregious things he’s ever seen happen in the NFL.

“When you hire your drinking buddy to be the head coach of an NFL football team. It is one of the most disrespectful things I’ve ever seen in my entire life to the commitment to the lifestyle and the experience that it takes to be an NFL coach…any coach. Much less the head coach of the Indianapolis football Colts. You have got to be kidding me.”

Joe Thomas on Indianapolis Colts hiring of Jeff Saturday (via Good Morning Football)

He makes some valid points. There are a few former NFL head coaches already a part of the organization. Gus Bradley is the current defensive coordinator and former head coach of Jacksonville. John Fox is the team’s senior defensive assistant and is the former head coach of Denver, Carolina, and most recently Chicago.

Yet, Irsay went outside of the organization and hired someone who has as much NFL coaching experience as fans of the team.

During the introductory press conference, Irsay also stated that Saturday’s lack of NFL coaching experience is a good thing. It’s another comment that Thomas took great issue with.

“The disrespect that NFL coaches have to feel when they saw that this hire was made is higher than almost anything I can ever possibly remember in the NFL. And then to defend the decision by saying, ‘I’m happy that he doesn’t have any experience because he’s not scared.’ Like, if you didn’t already insult every person that’s worked their entire life to be a coach in the NFL, then to go up there and say, ‘I like he has no experience because all of y’all NFL coaches are scared because you use logic and analytics to make decisions’?”

Joe Thomas on Colts hiring of Jeff Saturday (via Good Morning Football)

This point that Thomas brings up, again, has to raise the question of how other coaches view the Indianapolis job. It comes at a time when Irsay already said that Saturday could be the long-term coach and there is speculation about the former All-Pro center becoming the general manager.

Related: Jim Irsay responds to ranking allegations

Even if the head-coaching gig becomes open, coaching candidates will rightfully be concerned about the job. While there are only 32 positions like it in the NFL, there will be multiple vacancies this offseason and they all seem more stable than working for Irsay.

How the rest of the season plays out will be interesting to watch. It may not even matter how well the Colts and Saturday perform. This organization has regressed back to its earliest days of being in Indianapolis.