INDIANAPOLIS – For a 47-year-old father of five, it's not the first word that comes to mind when running on fumes after three straight nights of little sleep.
That's how Chris Ballard described his emotions upon putting pen to paper on a five-year contract as the new general manager of the Indianapolis Colts.
"I'm jacked," Ballard said as he began his introductory press conference at his new home of the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"I haven't had a lot of sleep (between first and second interviews) because of the excitement level."
If Ballard's words didn't tell the full story, listening to the new GM offered the same passion echoed in his opening statement.
The first-time general manager is ready.
Some 560 text messages flooded Ballard's phone on Sunday night, when news broke of his hiring in Indianapolis. What stood out to Ballard about the absurd amount of texts were that nearly half of them came from former coaches and players he's worked with in the NFL.
"That was very humbling," Ballard said. "Because that's what it's about. It's about making a difference in others lives. It's about influencing others and I feel blessed to have had those people involved in my life."
Humility, passion and teamwork were evident throughout Ballard's first press conference as Colts GM.
Ballard stressed the importance for building a strong locker room, something that he said cannot be bought.
When talking about his excitement in the opportunity with the Colts, Ballard spoke to the high standards already in place, wanting alumni players to have a continued presence as he tries to get this team back to a consistent, elite level.
"My vision for the Colts is simple. We are going to work together as an organization to build a winning culture that is competing for championships year in and year out," Ballard said on Monday afternoon. "That's easier said than done. And it's going to take a lot of hard work by everybody.
"Everyone will have to understand that we all are part of something bigger than ourselves and that every decision we make will be in the best interest of the Horseshoe. It will never be about one person. It will take all of us to come together as one. We will set high standards throughout the organization and make sure that winning becomes our edge. This has to happen at every level of the organization and we have to make sure that we have an organization full of team-oriented problems solvers in order to get this done."
Throughout Monday, Ballard reverted to the "team aspect" that he wants prevalent from his relationship with Chuck Pagano, on down.
It was there when asked about walking into a GM situation with Andrew Luck under center.
"It will never be about one guy," Ballard said, after acknowledging the talent that Luck brings. "It will never be about one guy. It's about all 53 men in that locker room. It's about all 63 men, including the practice squad, that we have. It will never be about one person. It will always be about the team.
"Is he a good piece? Absolutely. But he's just one of the 53 men that we have to go win with."
Team reappeared when talking about his firm stance in defending the 49-31 record Chuck Pagano has compiled in five seasons. The importance of their relationship?
"It's essential," Ballard said on Monday, with Pagano and his coaching staff present. "I just left a place where (Chiefs GM) John Dorsey and (head coach) Andy Reid are tied at the hip. They made decisions together. Me and Chuck will make decisions together for the best interest for the Indianapolis Colts.
"Chuck Pagano is a good football coach in the National Football League. He's won 49 games. We need to keep our eye on how hard it is to win in this league. It's hard to win. He's won 49 games in the National Football League. It's Chuck Pagano, his staff and we are rolling."
Ballard made sure to inform those that his own accountability will be at a peak level. If a move doesn't work, time to move on. Why? Because of the team.
"Look, let me put it this way, I'm probably not completely ready to be a GM," the 16-year NFL personnel man admitted. "I'm going to screw some things up. I'm going to make some mistakes and I'll own them.
"I'll say this, I wasn't ready to be coach Al Harris (at Texas A&M-Kingsville), who played in the National Football League for 14 years, when I coached the secondary. I played receiver in college (at Wisconsin). But I figured it out. I wasn't ready to be an area scout. But I figured it out. I wasn't ready to be a director of pro personnel. But I figured it out. I wasn't ready to be a director of player personnel. But I figured it out. I've got enough good people around me that they are going to help guide me along the way. One of my real strengths is when I make a mistake, I own it. It's on me. I don't ever put the blame off and I'll never put the blame off."
It's a team that will now largely be led by Ballard as it tries to avoid a three-season playoff drought, something foreign to any Colts' fan over the past 20 years.
Ballard's public evaluation of the roster will come at a later date. Building through the draft is an obvious must he pointed out. Dips into free agency will be sprinkled in.
But, above all else, it will be a team culture in the ultimate team game.
"We have to make sure," Ballard said, "that we have an organization full of team-oriented problems solvers in order to get this done."
Chris Ballard, Colts new General Manager, arrives in Indianapolis.
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