INDIANAPOLIS — "No one fails."
While that simple phrase is universal in the game of football, it's a way of life for David Thornton.
Thornton, the Colts' Director of Player Engagement, is a trusted confidant for the team's players and its coaching staff.
"We want our guys to be successful, not only on the field, but off the field, even in their personal lives and in all the things they strive to do," Thornton said.
A former standout Colts linebacker, Thornton this week is the subject of the newest episode of Colts Productions' "Colts Forever." You can watch the entire piece below, followed by some notes:
— Thornton is a trusted confidant of head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard: As a former player — Thornton was a fourth-round pick by the Colts in the 2002 NFL Draft, and would end up playing eight NFL seasons, including four in Indy — the current Colts players know when they talk to Thornton, he can more times than not relate to what they're going through. Reich and Ballard, then, rely on Thornton's relationships with the players to get a read on any number of critical day-to-day team endeavors.
"As the head coach, he's one of the key people that I rely on, literally, day in and day out," Reich said.
"DT brings so much to the table. One, he was the former player; he understands the pulse of the locker room, he's connected to the guys. No. 2: he just has a mind and a heart to wanna serve those players, to help them out in any way that he can. No. 3: he's always helping me understanding that, helping me to connect to players. We're all in this together."
While succeeding on the field is always going to be a major focus, Ballard said Thornton's ability to help keep players on track off the field and in their own personal lives is just as important.
"David's ability to draw upon himself as a player — what he did as a player, the mistakes he made and successes he had, both on the field and off the field — and then connect with our players and give them guidance is invaluable," Ballard said.
— Thornton embodies the Colts' "family" atmosphere: Having previously played for the Colts from 2002 through 2005, Thornton already knew all about the "Horseshoe" and what it was all about. But deciding to come back to Indy after his playing career in a player engagement role? It was a "no-brainer," Thornton said.
"To be back here and to be able to serve and help others — help, of course, the guys in the locker room, but just help throughout the organization — it's a great honor," he said.
"First what comes to mind when I think of the Horseshoe is family. Family," Thornton continued. "The Horseshoe, we're really close. The support, the love that we have for each other … when you think of family, family has your back — you know, people you trust, people you can rely on and depend on — and that's kind of what this organization's kind of built on, that family culture, that family environment."