As the Indianapolis Colts stunned the sports world by hiring Jeff Saturday away from ESPN to be their interim head coach, Boomer Esiason says Deion Sanders lobbied to make a similar move nearly two decades ago.
“I had a situation like this on The NFL Today either my first or second year,” Esiason recalled on his WFAN morning show with co-host Gregg Giannotti. “And that’s when Deion Sanders said on the air that he wanted Dan Reeves fired from the Falcons because he didn’t understand Michael Vick at the time. It was a whole Black-white thing and old-young thing.”
Boomer Esiason recalls Deion Sanders lobbying for the Atlanta Falcons job while on The NFL Today pic.twitter.com/y1lG4gCoQZ
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“I said, ‘OK, you want him fired? Fine.’ And this was on the air,” Esiason added. “I said, ‘Well, who do you want to replace him with?’ Deion looked into the camera and he goes, ‘Me!’”
Sanders made the declaration during the 2003 NFL season, while Reeves and the Falcons were floundering with a 1-7 record. Reeves was eventually fired during the season and despite Sanders lobbying for the job, the Falcons opted to name defensive coordinator Wade Phillips as their interim coach. The Colts similarly could have chosen an experienced assistant such as John Fox as their interim coach, but owner Jim Irsay made the shocking decision to hire Saturday instead.
The exchange between Esiason and Sanders was one of a few tense moments during their two seasons as CBS colleagues on The NFL Today, with their most memorable on-air dispute occurring about Lawrence Taylor. Esiason noted that Sanders has since turned into a good football coach after joining Jackson State, adding that his former CBS colleague is deserving of opportunities to run larger programs, naming Florida State and Auburn as potential destinations.
“Good for him, he loves the game, he wants to coach and he’s impactful,” Esiason continued. “But at that moment I said to him, ‘Man, you don’t even make our meetings, how the hell are you gonna make their meetings?’ He didn’t like that, but it was true.”
“I kind of think the same thing here,” Esiason said of Saturday joining the Colts with zero head coaching experience. “You gotta go all in. There’s no half-assing here.”