Jim Irsay dismisses “perception” that Jeff Saturday hire skirts spirit of Rooney Rule

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The decision of Colts owner Jim Irsay to go outside the current coaching staff for an interim head coach technically complies with the Rooney Rule, but only because the Rooney Rule doesn’t apply in those situations. (Yet.) If it did, Irsay wouldn’t have been able to just hand the reins to Jeff Saturday, without first going through a fair and inclusive process.

During Monday night’s press conference introducing Saturday, Irsay was asked about the perception created by bringing in a white interim coach who has no college or NFL coaching experience. Irsay deflected the question, in part by turning the tables on those asking the question.

“There is no problem or perception, except some of you guys make a problem or perception,” Irsay said. “But you need hits, so you’ve got to do it. I understand. I’d do the same thing. I was a broadcast journalism major, too. So, I mean, look, it’s something where there’s always going to be a lot created and a lot of words said. You know, and, you know, and I don’t know, are you guys ever held accountable? Do your editors ever bring you in and say, ‘Well, you wrote that stuff. It was all wrong. You’re fired.’ We get held accountable, that’s for sure. So but it was — it’s something that we’re following the Rooney Rule to a ‘T’, and, you know, I really look forward to the interview process at the end of the season.”

Jim, it’s a vastly different kind of accountability for reporters to be held accountable for their errors (and we are, whether directly by those who pay us or by our audiences or by media that covers the media or by social media) and for business owners to be held accountable for failing to engage and fair and appropriate hiring practices. Irsay violated the spirit of the Rooney Rule in hiring Saturday. Period. For him, and for the league at large, the accountability potentially will come within the confines of the pending, or subsequent, litigation attacking the league’s long and abysmal history of diversity in the filling of head-coaching jobs.

Perception is reality. The perception, and the reality, is that the NFL’s owners collectively have done a horrible job of embracing diversity when it comes to developing and hiring head coaches, even though the vast majority of NFL players are Black.

In every specific case, the owner who makes the hire can fashion a word salad that will plausibly (or, in Irsay’s case, implausibly) justify the decision. Meanwhile, the trend continues. The evidence is hiding in plain sight, and it has been for years.

It’s one of the reasons why the NFL is working so hard to keep the Brian Flores lawsuit out of open court, and to shift it to the league’s in-house secret, rigged, kangaroo court, otherwise known as arbitration. That’s how Irsay and all other NFL owners eventually avoid full and fair accountability.

So, yes, reporters are held accountable for our mistakes. And, no, NFL owners are never held truly accountable for business decisions that violate state and federal law. Until they are, neither the perception nor the reality that contributed to Monday’s Saturday shenanigans will change.

63 responses to “Jim Irsay dismisses “perception” that Jeff Saturday hire skirts spirit of Rooney Rule

  1. The spirit of a rule, or the spirit of anything can have multiple interpretations. Rules can be changed, but in the mean time it’s probably best to abide by the rules. When in doubt, follow the rules. Irsay followed the rules. There might be different interpretations of a wingnut, but that’s another story altogether.

  2. Perception is not reality. Perception is the delusion deliberately manufactured by the media who are paid to make the public mentally ill. Only media shills and their brainwashed victims want to pretend that perception is reality.

  3. Maybe it’s the long work hours or the coffee still making its way thru the system but how exactly did Irsay violate the Rooney Rule if the Rooney Rule does not apply to interim coaches? Because Saturday is white? If Saturday were already on the staff, would he still have violated it?
    Let’s perhaps focus more on what the Saturday hiring is, the season is pretty much done for the Colts and what better way to tank without looking like you’re tanking than to hire someone with zero coaching experience?
    And what better way to keep the fanbase engaged than to hire a former very popular player to sail the ship into the season of tanksville…

  4. If the Rooney rule isn’t fair enough to require teams interview every ethnicity under the sun (native, asian, hispanic, black) then it ought to be discarded.

  5. I do not see a violation of either the letter or the spirit of the Rooney Rule. When the Colts hire a permanent head coach they will be required to comply. That is the rule.

  6. If Irsay wanted to give Saturday a shot, how would it be fair and appropriate to minority candidates to fly them in and waste their time with a sham interview for a job they would never be hired for?

  7. Irsay is losing he mind. It was evident when the other owners got he to be the patsy when discussing Snyder. Then he benches Ryan, fires Reich, and now this hire. All the parting catches up to you at some point.

  8. The Rooney rule is ridiculous, NFL teams should be able to hire whoever they want without going through this sham interview process. That being said, this is still a moronic hire by an incredibly inept owner.

  9. There is a rule its in writing and you guys know he did not violate it so the story your concocting is of your opinion not fact.
    First, its a temp assignment for now not a permanent hire. Everyone knows its a temp hire and that eventually the position will be filled and diversity will then come into play. Saturday is a bright guy and was a Colt for a long time, so maybe it will work for a while. Hey only 7 games left anyways.

  10. He should get credit for hiring Dungy and promoting Caldwell but when he interviews Reggie Wayne to comply with rule, he’s still mocking the spirit of it. That being said everyone should be able to hire who they want. If I owned a team, I’d hire Romeo Crennel (a younger version). I might not win many football games but the positive impact of his mentoring would be the justification. This is his decision to evaluate Saturday before hiring him (or not) permanently.

  11. Is it even feasible to conduct interviews for an interim hire…the new coach needs to be appointed ASAP to prepare for the next game. Just jump through the “hoops” on January 9th.

  12. Every coach in the NFL should be angry about what Irsay did. Coaching is a profession…a career. The NFL has many coaches that have been coaching for 20, 30, 40 years.

    So instead of giving the job to one of the 30+ year coaches on the Colts, or some other coach from another team, Irsay gives the job to a friend of his WITH NO COACHING EXPERIENCE.

    Coaching is a skill. It’s not something that anyone can do, and it usually takes years of hard work to be recognized.

  13. It’s clear tanking, and between that and his piped in crowd noise he should be stripped of his franchise

  14. I’ve never had a single discussion over beer or the water cooler about the Rooney Rule. This topic is completely media driven. Owners and fans don’t care who is hired if they can get their team to win football games.

  15. So even if it did apply, you know they play a game in 6 days. Is there enough time to do research, set up interviews, and hire new coach before the next game? No, but nobody is talking about that. Probably why the rule doesn’t apply maybe?

  16. Saturday placed Center – a very cerebral position, and he played for the team for many years. He can help fix the offensive line and the offense generally in the future. (But he won’t be able to beat the Jaguars in Jacksonville.)

  17. When have interviews EVER been conducted mid season for an interim coach replacement?

    If Saturday has the interim label removed after the season, then you can squawk.

  18. The Rooney Rule is ridiculous. Several years ago, Jack Del Rio was the coach of the Raiders, and he was doing OK. When Mark Davis wanted to hire Gruden as an upgrade, he still had to do sham Rooney Rule interviews, even though Gruden was who he wanted. If Gruden wouldn’t have been interested, Davis would have kept Del Rio. Any of the minority candidates being interviewed had to know they were not in consideration.

  19. Yet Tony Dungy was allowed to promote Jim Caldwell as his successor without anyone else being interviewed. I didn’t hear any outcries from the media over that? Typical double standard hypocrisy on display like usual.

  20. I support the Rooney Rule, but there is no ambiguity about this. They are not violating the rule, and there’s no such thing as the “spirit” of a rule. A rule is a rule. Come back at the end of the season and analyze the permanent hiring.

  21. I am not sure if the questions raised here are as relevant to diversity as other questions we could ask. The colts fired the head coach and are bringing in a temp for half a season. They have committed to going through the Rooney process when bringing in the permanent coach. Should the colts have applied a rule which doesn’t technically apply here? I am not sure it matters compared to other outstanding questions. Does the Rooney rule as it exists today really promote diversity in the coaching ranks? Are there better ways to promote diversity while maintaining fairness to all applicants? What amount of diversity is appropriate? Does the rule match the intentions of the NFL? Are teams embracing the intent of the rule, and if not, why not?

  22. He has hired multiple black head coaches if you recall. I think we can leave him alone on this issue, as he was doing this before there was a rule about it.

  23. I get the spirit of the rule, but it’s the middle of the season. They can’t embark on a vast search for a coach right now. Sure, it’s weird that they just handed the job to a TV guy who has never coached above the high school level, but whatever. This isn’t a huge deal. After the season they’ll do whatever they have to do.

  24. Fun fact: Being a great player does not mean that person will be a good coach. The skill sets are completely different.

    Ask Mike Singletary about his head coaching experience.

  25. Saturday could be black, brown, green or purple and it would still be a dumb hire. I wish the focus would be on that fact rather than making it a race battle.

  26. 160 out of the last 321 Colts games were coached by Dungy or Caldwell. Why is this a thing?

  27. The only rule that should be in effect in this country is that the owner of a billion dollar company/entity or a corner hot dog stand can hire whomever he/she pleases.
    To be dictated to, is well, dictatorship.

  28. Could not care less about the rooney rule implication. I do care a lot more of the blatent tanking going on with Colts. I real probability Irsay didnt want to saddle a real coach with imtentional losses on his resume and found a “patsy” for lack of a better word.

  29. Rooney rule compliance requires TIME. There are simply not many football coaches available YESTERDAY for temporary employment. Most coaching candidates are under contract with another club or team already. How can Irsay interview them in the middle of the season? With no time and no supply, where is Irsay supposed to draw from?

    I agree with Florio’s argument if Saturday is hired permanently. Florio should demand the league not allow Saturday to be hired permanently. If this turns into a permanent hire, the interim tactic was simply an end run around the process. That WOULD be a bad look for the league.

  30. There’s no reason for The Rooney rule to apply to interim coaches. First of all you can’t fire a coach, then spend a week or two interviewing candidates. You have to fire a guy and name an interim in the same press conference. Secondly, the interim coach is almost always a fall guy. He’s usually got no shot at the job no matter how well he does (see the Raiders). In today’s NFL, the interim coach’s job is to secure a high draft pick, nothing else.

  31. The universities have done an even worse job of developing and promoting minority head coaches.

  32. I’m not a Colt fan but the reality is Irsay as an owner has complete control and will ultimately decide who he wants as Head Coach REGARDLESS of these pointless hiring process “rules” he has to follow from the NFL. His choice in Jeff Saturday has many folks scratching their heads – however Saturday CAN’T be any worse than Hackett in Denver can he?

  33. Hiring a white offensive linesman with zero head coaching experience is the peak of white privilege. If you’re going to hand out a HC spot lottery style, why not give the opportunity to a POC former player who is already on a path to coaching or has actual coaching experience? Nope, let’s add ANOTHER white guy to the pipe line so when people gripe about offseason hires and defendants claim they’re merely targeting coaches with real experience (who are white), we’ve added one more. Thanks Irsay for exacerbating the problem…

  34. Patrick says:
    November 8, 2022 at 11:24 am
    Perception is not reality. Perception is the delusion deliberately manufactured by the media who are paid to make the public mentally ill. Only media shills and their brainwashed victims want to pretend that perception is reality.

    Talk about living in your own reality…

  35. I’d be less concerned about the diversity issue on an interim hire, which would be hard to practically apply anyhow. I’d be more concerned that the hire is a TV guy that’s never coached before.

  36. NFL owner is basically the one true “job” that you can have that has zero accountability. Look at Snyder, my lord. Because any other business, if you fail eventually you lose money.

    We, the lemmings who are “LOYAL FANS YEAH!” will just clap like seals no matter what.

    Owners are never, ever held accountable. Which I was certainly appreciative when a certain, ahem, THING happened with my owner.

  37. bozobiden says:
    November 8, 2022 at 12:17 pm
    It’s his business let him hire whomever he wants

    How many times does it have to be explained that business owners cannot simply do anything they want? Every business owner has to comply with the laws. Do you want your food processor or restaurant owner to be free to not have sanitary conditions? Do you want your manufacturer to be free to produce unsafe, defective products?

  38. The Colts seem to be a complete mess. The Saturday hire seems more like a publicity stunt than anything else. If they decide to add Orlovsky, IMO that would make these hires a complete clown show.

    Yesterday, PTI had a complete tank job when it came to talking about the Saturday hire. If they couldn’t be objective, they shouldn’t have talked about Saturday at all.

    Just another reason for me to avoid ESPN.

  39. Uh no. Reporters are not held accountable for false information or misleading reporting. We see it every single day in the MSM

  40. I don’t oppose the Rooney rule. But I don’t think it’s ever going to be effective. The simple reason is the owner will hire whoever they want. It’s kind of their right. The Rooney rule will always make owners feel like a candidate is being shoved down their throat.

    However, I think things will balance out. The rule which gives teams draft picks for developing minority coordinators (who get hired as HCs) is going to be effective, in my opinion.

    I don’t think Irsay is purposely skirting the Rooney rule. I do think this opens the door though, and the fear of being sued (a la Flores) might scare owners into doing the same. This is especially true if Saturday gets the extra TC next year, if hired at season’s end.

  41. moochiemcbiggumz says:
    November 8, 2022 at 12:34 pm
    $500 says they won’t win more than 3 games with Saturday as coach. Bank it.

    That’d give him a slightly better record than Frank Reich had this year. And Reich had an entire offseason to prepare, Saturday has 6 days.

  42. Irsay’s a prime example that a guy can simultaneously be incredibly rich and an absolute idiot.

  43. Let’s be honest about something. Being a former NFL player is not a prerequisite to being a coach, head or otherwise. Nor is it a prerequisite to being an executive. Otherwise women would be completely excluded from being a coach or executive in the NFL. Therefore, the entire population should be considered as the candidate pool for those positions, not just former NFL players. This means your argument about lack of diversity in coaching is not a valid one.

  44. The only problem with hiring Saturday was that he hired him Monday to coach on Sunday. Does anybody seriously think that any team can go through an interview process any longer than that without having the coach meet the team for the first time on Friday?

  45. Is this still America? Last I heard in the USA you were free to hire/fire whoever you want if they are an at will employee or have a clause in their contract stating they can be terminated for any reason. If the owner if a business wants to hire an inept employee and run his business into the ground that is his choice! Irsay did nothing wrong, loopholes are loopholes and are most if the times there for a reason, irsay used a loopholes and florio is crazy for complaining about the spirit of the rule. Here is an idea, if the nfl wants a say in the hiring process of teams make an amendment for new owners buying teams, see how that goes or better yet the nfl should buy all the teams from the owners and run them under the ownership of the nfl, but till that happens stay out of an owners privilege to hire who he wants, it seems to have worked out for the past 200 yrs in the US

  46. Reporters are held accountable? Maybe 30 yrs ago but def not now. Now they meddle in player marriages and stir up issues based on speculation all in the race to be first.

  47. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today”. Wow, have we gotten lost…

  48. The truth is this hire is a benefit to minority coaches as well as non minority coaches. We all know Saturday isn’t going to turn it around and get the job permanently in 7 weeks. Jim Irsay knows this as well. We know, despite the feigned outrage, the Colts are packing it in for the season. Jim Irsay knows this as well.

    Hiring Jeff Saturday as a temp for 7 weeks gives Irsay and his Front Office 7 weeks to do in depth research on coaches and candidates across the NFL. This INCREASES the chances of someone like Eric Bienemy to get in the radar and be honest in on as the guy to right the ship. This is a GOOD thing. But I know, logic doesn’t sell. Feigning faux outrage does.

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