Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has been under fire for hiring team legend Jeff Saturday as interim head coach.
On Friday, NFL Network analyst Joe Thomas turned up the heat an extra notch or two.
Though Saturday was widely respected for his on-field exploits as one of the anchors of the Peyton Manning-era Colts, he has no prior coaching experience at the college or professional levels.
For Thomas, a former star offensive tackle with the Cleveland Browns, the highly unusual hire was "disrespectful" and "egregious."
The six-time first-team All-Pro offensive tackle suggested that Irsay, who has previously opened up about his alcoholism and addiction to painkillers, had hired one of his "drinking buddies."
"When you hire your drinking buddy to be the head coach of an NFL football team, it is one of the most disrespectful things I've ever seen in my entire life -- to the commitment, the lifestyle, and the experience that it takes to be an NFL coach, or any coach, much less the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts," Thomas said on Friday's episode of "Good Morning Football."
"You have got to be kidding me that this is something that Jim Irsay -- and Jeff Saturday, who is not blameless for accepting the job -- could have talked and decided that this was the best thing for the Indianapolis Colts at this juncture of the season."
Thomas proceeded to recount how former Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski was his next-door neighbor in Cleveland. According to Thomas, the demands of being a head coach limited Chudzinski to seeing his children once, or at most twice, per week during the season.
But Thomas isn't so sure Saturday can know what he's getting himself into.
"The commitment that it takes to being an NFL head coach is beyond what people can even comprehend, unless you've been in that locker room," he said.
"That's a lifestyle. That's who you are. That's not something that you can just show up for. It's not something you sign up for [midseason]. This is something that changes your life, when you decide to be a coach. It's one of the reasons I don't want to be a coach -- because I want to see my children. I want to have a life outside of football."
Thomas said Irsay's defiant defense of the hire -- because most coaches are "afraid" to make bold decisions -- was an insult on top of the initial injury.
"The disrespect that NFL coaches have to feel when they saw that this hire was made was higher than almost anything I can remember in the NFL.
"And then to defend the decision by saying 'I'm happy that he doesn't have any experience because he's not scared,' like, if you didn't already insult every person that's ever worked their entire life to be a head coach in the NFL ...
"When I saw this, I thought it was a joke. ... It was the most egregious thing I can ever remember happening in the NFL, and I went 1-31 my last two years in the NFL."
Thomas isn't the first NFL Network talent to blast the Colts' hiring of Saturday.
Earlier this week, analyst Kyle Brandt slammed the Colts and questioned whether Saturday's former ESPN colleagues could objectively critique his performance given his longstanding affiliation with the network.
ESPN analyst Ryan Clark fired back, suggesting Brandt should focus on the doings at his own network.
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