If you want to truly understand why the hiring of Jeff Saturday as interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts is an insult, a huge one, to every Black coach in the NFL, and every potential Black coach who might someday hope to become one, look no further than a man named Marcus Brady.
Brady spent nine seasons coaching for two CFL teams. He was a player in Canada for three teams. He was an offensive coordinator in the CFL. Brady, who is Black, was recently fired as the Colts’ offensive coordinator.
That’s fine. Coaches get fired.
But think about the logic of saying he’s not good enough to be a coordinator but Jeff Saturday, with no coaching experience in the NFL or college, is good enough to be the team’s interim head coach? Of course that makes no sense.
The NFL Coaches Project:USA TODAY Sports analyzed demographic data for NFL coaches at every level. This ongoing series shares our findings.
More: What’s in it for interims? Carolina’s Steve Wilks latest Black coach thrust into challenging role
This is nothing against Saturday, an ESPN analyst since 2013, but the idea that he’s qualified is ludicrous. He isn’t close to it. This is a joke.
There is no Black NFL equivalent of a Jeff Saturday. Black ex-players with zero coaching experience can’t just walk off the street and get head coaching jobs, and this is what makes this situation so angering, frustrating and embarrassing.
Look up white privilege in the dictionary and you see this situation playing on the back nine of Augusta with Donald Trump and Elon Musk.
Black coaches privately talk all the time about the double standards. How far less qualified white coaches get jobs and second chances — and third and fourth — that Black coaches often do not get. They talk about how hard it is, still, in the 21st century, to get honest interviews that aren’t shams. They talk about the naked racism they face and how if they speak up about it they’ll be Kaepernicked.
More: Cincinnati Bengals once led NFL coaching diversity charge. Now, they’re part of the problem | Opinion
Stuck in the pipeline:‘Positional segregation’ is rampant in the NFL
All of that is bad enough, but in many ways, this situation is worse and more blatant. Among the coaches on the Colts’ staff is Scottie Montgomery, who is Black, and was a college head coach and now the running backs coach. There’s also Ron Milus, who has been a defensive backs coach in the NFL for over two decades.
Maybe they didn’t want the job (I doubt that’s the case). What’s most likely is they were ignored.
There are also plenty of qualified Black coaches around the league who could have been candidates. Like, literally, dozens.
Former Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, now coaching that same position for Indianapolis, is more qualified than Saturday.
If you think the Rooney Rule, designed to level out the historic racial front office and coaching imbalances, applies here, it doesn’t. An interim coaching situation is exempted. It’s applicable after the end of the team’s season. The Colts would have to fulfill it before hiring a full-time coach.
Perhaps most disappointing of all is that this is owner Jim Irsay’s team. He was lauded as a hero for speaking out against Dan Snyder’s foulness, but now, look at Irsay. His feet are firmly planted in one of the great American traditions: overlooking highly qualified Black candidates for lesser qualified, sometimes extremely lesser qualified, white ones.
As far as I can tell, Saturday’s coaching experience is from leading Hebron Christian Academy, a college preparatory school in Georgia. Saturday coached his son there.
And now Saturday is a head coach in the NFL. It’s quite a trip.
A very NFL one.
Story Credit: usatoday.com