Colts owner says firing of Frank Reich wasn’t ‘personal,’ defends decision to hire Jeff on Saturday
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay fired head coach Frank Reich after the Colts fell to 3-5-1 In the season
Irsay’s next decision, to hire former Colts player Jeff Saturday as interim head coach, sparked widespread debate as Saturday has no coaching experience beyond the high school level.
Irsay defended his decision to fire Frank, telling ESPN the decision was not a personal one.
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“It’s not personal. It’s the complete opposite of being personal,” Irsay said.
“Frank is a treasured friend to my family and to all of my daughters,” Irsay said. “We’ve known each other for a long, long time. I’m very, very close to Frank, and I’ve known him for many decades. He’s like family.”
Reich’s dismissal seemed to irritate Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianniwho served as offensive coordinator under Reich for three seasons.
Following the Eagles’ win over the Colts in Week 11, an emotional Sirianni was seen on video yelling at fans in the stands.
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“This sh*t’s for Frank Reich,” he yelled excitedly.
After the game, Sirianni was asked why he was so excited and explained that he hoped to coach against Reich in the game against the Colts.
“Because I love Frank Reich,” Sirianni said.
“I really do, and he’s one of the best football coaches I’ve ever met. I was hoping he and I could coach against each other in this game.”
Irsay told ESPN that he signed Reich to a contract extension earlier this year, showing his commitment to Reich.
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“I’ve been doing this for over 50 years, and I’ve never, ever, ever, ever given a coach an extension with two years left on their contract,” Irsay said. “But [I did it] because of the closeness to him and our family, and because he hoped that maybe it would be something that would help strengthen him in his position and in his own beliefs.”
Irsay also rejected criticism he received for hiring Saturday, calling the circumstances “unusual.”
“You have to understand that Jeff is a very unusual person who was in a very unusual position to have the kind of qualities that would make him able to make a transition like this,” Irsay said. “Most of the time, it’s going to be pretty tough. Could I do a hire like this again? Probably not. I mean, if I was lucky enough to live long enough to do this for 75 years, it’s probably once in 75.” years”. I mean, it was kind of weird because the circumstances turned out that way.”
The Colts are 1-1 since Reich’s firing and face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.