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Former Colts interim coach Jeff Saturday thanks team for opportunity after Shane Steichen hiring

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As the Colts’ head coaching search lingered on, and as other candidates were told they no longer were in the running, the possibility of Saturday returning as head coach appeared to grow. He was thrust into a difficult situation after accepting the job, leaving his role at ESPN as an NFL analyst to become a head coach at this level for the first time.

Colts owner Jim Irsay, who convinced Saturday to give up his media job to captain the ship last year, appears to remain a big Saturday fan.

“(I) certainly want to thank Jeff Saturday for his committed and professional effort for what he did, coming in, in a very difficult situation and doing an admirable job,” Irsay said during Steichen’s introductory news conference on Tuesday. “I really appreciate Jeff and thank him. He means a lot to this organization.”

Saturday led the Colts to a surprising victory on the road over the Las Vegas Raiders in his coaching debut, but it would turn out to be the high point of his tenure. The Colts would go on to lose their remaining seven games of the season — four by one score, but the other three by a combined 80 points.

Blowing a 33-0 second-half lead in a loss to the Vikings was Saturday’s and the team’s clear low point of a trying season. More than 4,000 Colts fans even signed a fan-authored petition to prevent Saturday as the full-time head coach.

Those fans got their wish once Steichen was hired quickly after Steichen and the Eagles lost Super Bowl LVII to the Kansas City Chiefs. Saturday made sure to send his message to everyone, even those happy he’s not the coach anymore.

“For everybody out there, including however many thousands that signed the petition, which may have included my wife and son — not exactly sure,” Saturday joked. “But in all honesty, I’m so grateful for Colts Nation and who you are.”

Saturday played 13 of his 14 NFL seasons in Indianapolis, serving as Peyton Manning’s center for nearly his entire duration with the Colts, and was beloved as a player. Even if it takes fans a bit to get over the disappointment of the 2022 season, Saturday’s love for them and for the team appears as strong as ever.

“To represent the Horseshoe, it meant the world to me,” Saturday said. “Again, to coach Steichen, best of luck to you and your family. Indianapolis is an incredible town. Best fans in the world, man. You’ll get the greatest support, and look forward to watching your success and the rest of the men in that locker room and the coaching staff that you have with you.

“To all of Colts Nation: Appreciate you guys, love you guys, and I’ll see you soon.”

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