Winter 2022 magazine

Jeff Saturday named Colts interim head coach with life surrendered to God

Jeff Saturday was as surprised as everyone else when Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay asked him to be the team’s interim head coach for the rest of this season. Asked at his introductory press conference Monday night about his reaction to the offer, Saturday said “shocked would be an understatement.”

The former six-time Pro Bowl center who spent 13 seasons with the Colts replaces Frank Reich despite not having any coaching experience at the college or professional level. Since retiring after the 2012 season, Saturday has worked as an NFL analyst for ESPN and spent three seasons as the head coach at Hebron Christian Academy in Georgia. He was also serving as a consultant for the Colts.

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Saturday told the media he and his wife, Karen, made prayer part of their decision-making process once Irsay asked if he would be interested in the role.

“We had the conversation, we talked about it and prayed about it,” Saturday said. “Then as the day progressed this morning, we finally came to a conclusion. But it was a 12-hour whirlwind.”

Irsay pointed to Saturday’s leadership abilities as one of the primary reasons he felt the 47-year-old was the best person to take the team forward rather than promoting someone already on the coaching staff. Saturday mentioned that he gets great joy from being able to encourage and mentor people through football.

“I’ve gleaned a lot and I continue to try and grow as a leader, but I think that’s probably my strongest quality, is I’m a leader of men. I don’t shy away from it and [I am] excited about it,” he said. “That’s my passion and I love it. Football just so happens to fit that mold. But that’s what I love — when I can do the two things I love, I can lead a group of men and coach football, I’m not going to say no to that.”

Much of Saturday’s leadership stems from his faith in Christ. During an appearance on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in 2018, Saturday explained that he did not become a Christian until he reached the NFL and got invited by teammates to a Bible study. It wasn’t long before other members of his family — beginning with Karen — started following Jesus too.

What stands out to Saturday from his 14-year career, which also includes a Super Bowl and two All-Pro selections, are not his accomplishments on the field but the people he was able to impact off it.

“I remember the relationships. … That’s what my wife and I sit back and look at and love,” he said on the podcast. “That’s what the NFL for me was really about. The wins and losses, Super Bowls, it’s all cool. Ring of honor, all good. Pro Bowls, all good. But real lives changing for the better and still making it and still moving in the right direction is the thing that I look on the most fondly.”

Saturday also joined Sports Spectrum’s “Transformed” podcast in September to discuss parenting, the importance of faith and the challenges of finding peace. He said on the podcast that giving his life to God has helped him be less stressed and frustrated when things don’t work out the way he’d like them to.

“He’s ultimately in charge of all the results, and so as long as I’m doing my part of doing what I feel led to do — prayerful, grateful, the way that I’m going to live — and I feel like I’m moving in the direction that God has asked me, the results part is now in His hands,” he said.

The Colts are 3-5-1 heading into Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Kickoff from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas is at 4:05 p.m. ET.

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