Ryan Clark

As soon as NFL Network’s Kyle Brandt pre-accused ESPN talent of not being able to criticize Jeff Saturday in his new role as interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, you just knew it was going to get a reaction from someone at the Worldwide Leader. It’s not surprising that the person at ESPN with the strongest criticism of Saturday was also the one to push back on Brandt.

After the Colts announced the shocking hiring of Saturday from the ESPN studio on Monday, Brandt took him and the team to task over the unorthodox situation, saying the former player “got it because he’s friends with a billionaire.” He then pondered whether or not the people who had been sitting next to Saturday in the ESPN studios would be able to honestly criticize him.

“What do you say here? Because he’s a high school coach and he was on ESPN and screaming on Get Up? It’s an interesting media thing, too,” Brandt said. “Because this is an ESPN employee, and I’d be fascinated to hear if anybody on ESPN has something critical to say about Jeff Saturday in this case. Or is it just ‘Oh, we’re happy for Jeff’? If I’m the Colts, I’m embarrassed yesterday.”

Turns out, ESPN employees haven’t had much of an issue calling out the Colts over the move. Stephen A. Smith, Robert Griffin III, Marcus Spears, Domonique Foxworth, and Clark were all among those who admonished the team over the way they handled things, even while expressing appreciation for Saturday as a colleague and person. No one came out stronger than Clark, who said that it was a textbook example of an unproven white coach jumping the line while talented Black coaches got looked over.

“I believe in Jeff Saturday. I think Jeff Saturday is a good man,” said Clark on Tuesday. “I’m just concerned with what you’ve earned. You are concerned with comfort. You are concerned with familiarity. And when it does come to hiring the right coach, whether it be a Black coach or a white coach, it’s always been about comfort. It’s always been about familiarity. And this is another time when somebody has jumped the line.

“It ain’t always nepotism. It ain’t always white privilege. Sometimes it’s just the wrong decision.”

After speaking his mind on Jeff Saturday and the Colts, Clark became aware of Brandt’s earlier gripe and decided to call it out on Twitter.

Say [Kyle Brandt] stick to talking about the people that cover football at your network. We are good over here. Be well,” wrote Clark.

The Pro Football Talk account then chimed in to note the irony of an NFL employee chiding another network’s employees about not being able to be impartial.

Clark then responded to another Twitter user who said that Brandt was correct in his assessment of the Saturday hiring.

“No problem with his thoughts on Jeff,” wrote Clark. “That’s his job. What we talk about at our network is not.”

The ESPN analyst also tweeted out an explanation for why he felt like he needed to say something in the first place.

“It is about doing our job as Jeff would,” said Clark. “We all have to utmost respect for Jeff and who he is as a man & football mind. We love our guy, and when you open up articles to see folk at other spots running their mouths sometimes I don’t have enough hops for the high road.”

So far it seems like Brandt hasn’t responded to Clark as he’s busy preparing for this weekend’s Buccaneers-Seahawks game in Germany. We’ll see if he has a moment to see the way ESPN has been covering the news and, if so, if he feels differently.

[Ryan Clark, New York Post]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.