Former All-Pro center Jeff Saturday played in the NFL for 14 seasons – 13 of them snapping the ball to Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning. A Hall of Fame candidate himself, Saturday has been an NFL analyst for ESPN since 2013.
We caught up with Saturday for this week’s Friday Five…
Who is your biggest mentor?
I have two right now. One is my stepdad, who’s basically my dad, Doug Grantham, and the other is my father-in-law, Roland Roberts. These two men have taught me it’s the who you’re doing life with, not necessarily what you’re doing. I’m 46 now – and the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve appreciated their advice, and not only their advice but the heart behind it. It’s hard to find people that are truly for you – for your marriage, for your family, for you children’s success. My relationship with those two has grown tremendously since I moved back to the Atlanta area, and it’s been so much fun. I learned so much more about their lives and what they’ve done. It’s been a ton of fun. So those would be the two men that I go to the most for sound advice. My faith, my family … they care about all of the above. I love having those two men that I can be real with and get great answers.
What aspect of being a TV analyst is more challenging than being an
The hot takes are frustrating for me. Everybody wants to go for clicks, and from a guy who has played as long as I did and had the career I did, which is better than I deserved, I know that things aren’t nearly as good or as bad when we turn that tape on. So that has been the most challenging part for me, because that’s just not my style, my personality. I would much rather sit down and have an in-depth conversation and really understand why you think the way you’re thinking, as opposed to shouting something out for clicks and hope it sticks. That’s my biggest challenge.
Being so close to Peyton Manning in your career, how have you
handled seeing Drew Brees and Tom Brady break Peyton’s all-time records?
Honestly, I don’t think anything about it. The most important record that I’ve ever cared about with Peyton is that he and I set the record for most QB-center starts and wins together. We went ahead of Fran Tarkenton and Mick Tingelhoff. When I think about that, it’s probably my most prized record and probably the only one I care about, because the rest are meant to be broken. I don’t care how many touchdown passes, whatever. I know what role I played and I was so happy to be a part of it. That one, for me, stands the test of time, because that’s two dudes showing up every day and going to work. We didn’t miss practices, we didn’t miss games, and I think there’s something to say for that. When people are committed to doing this thing together, and I can assure you there were a lot of painful days – physically, mentally, emotionally. You don’t play football in a vacuum. You have family stuff, you have physical stuff, emotional stuff. There’s all kinds of things, but you keep showing up each and every day, ready to lead a team together. That means the world to me. All the other records – guys have hot seasons, whatever. But this stood the test of time – 13 years of doing it.
I have an office full of stuff, but there’s one thing – it’s a frame he sent me with a collage, and in marker it says what it’s for – pictures of all the different times we were in. And brother, it’s hung high, and I love it. There’s something about going to work with somebody, and you know that they’re going to give you the best they have each and every day. They’re never going to ask you to do something that they’re not willing to do themselves. There’s a level of trust and there’a a level of consistency that goes far beyond the game. It produces a great relationship for the rest of your life. You’re secure in the friendship because you know what you’ve done together. You know what you put out to produce the results.
They’ve got 17 games now, so all these records will end up falling at some point. I loved what I did, and Peyton Manning does not have to apologize for any parts of his career that get broken by some other great quarterback. We did the best we could with what we had. Our careers are over. He’s got a gold jacket, which is well earned and well deserved. Good for those guys that are still playing well, I wish them the best as well.
What current 0-2 team do you think has the best chance to reach the playoffs?
I’m going to say either the Colts or the Giants, just because both of their divisions are average at best. For the Colts, it all depends on Carson Wentz, if he can come back. Right now, he’s sitting with the two sprained ankles, so he’ll miss some time. But they’re all in with him so their season is going to go as he goes. But Tennessee is 1-1, and they’ve really only played one good quarter of football. They’ve just been average at best. The Colts have been beat by two good football teams. The Giants … I think the Cowboys are going to take that division and I think they’re a very good football team. I think people are starting to see, with their offensive line, how good they are. But you’re in the NFC East/Least. You never know, 9-8 might win the whole thing, or at least get you a tie for it. But those would be the only two that I think have a real shot at making the playoffs.
If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be and why?
I’ll say Jesus, because I’m a Christian and to get his perspective and meet him personally would be the ultimate. I would love to see the way he spoke to people and encouraged people. My faith is extremely important so that one would be first. I would say Martin Luther King Jr. I would love to hear his stories and his perspective on watching a nation change before his eyes, and what it looked like and felt like. I think it would be a phenomenal learning lesson sitting with him. Probably the third would be Nate Hobgood-Chittick. I’m gonna get choked up. That was my roommate in college, my teammate with the Colts and the man who told Bill Polian he should give me a shot. I would love to hug that dude’s neck one more time. Gone way too soon. If you knew Nate and the three-plus-hour conversations he would love to have at dinner, it would just be an amazing evening.
Check out all of our Friday Five features — including Troy Aikman, Adam Schefter, Andrea Kremer and more — in the Friday Five archive.