INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Grigson was born in 1972, the same year Jim Irsay's family acquired the Colts.
Both Grigson and Irsay have spent the time from 1972 to the present laboring in football. Both know it to be a love, perhaps part of their DNA.
On Wednesday, Irsay made Grigson his new general manager. They share a passion for competition and for returning the Colts to prominence after one tough season.
Irsay said he had an instantaneous feeling that Grigson was the person for the job. Grigson shares the same feeling.
"My goal is to bring this team back to where it was, and build off of that and do great things," said Grigson. "Why else would you want to be in this position if you weren't going to do great things? I have the owner, I believe, that is with me, and I knew that from the get-go. Just like he said, it was almost instantaneous. We talked football and four hours seemed like five minutes when you are talking about something that you love. I want to thank him for recognizing that in me and giving me this opportunity."
Grigson comes to the Colts after eight seasons with Philadelphia. He spent 2010-11 as director of player personnel. From 2006-09, he was the director of college scouting in Philadelphia, having moved up from being an area scout with the club since 2004. Prior to joining Philadelphia, Grigson worked from 1999-2003 in scouting with the St. Louis Rams.
It has been a career of elbow grease and intellect for Grigson. It has come in a sport played by his father and brother, one that took the Indiana native from Highland High School to Purdue University to the Canadian Football League and the Arena League before the NFL. He comes to Indianapolis well-prepared to handle the reins of the Colts.
"There was a really strong foundation in place here that Mr. Irsay instituted," said Grigson. "Bill Polian, (I have) tremendous respect for him and for what he did as a football man. In a sense, I am getting the baton passed to me, and I am deeply humbled by it. Like Mr. Irsay told me, you have to have a balance of humility and confidence in this job. I think that was some of the best advice that I have ever heard. I think I'm going to hang on to that, because that really hit home with me. That is going to be my approach."
Grigson comes to Indianapolis having been a part of Rams and Eagles teams that reached the playoffs in nine of 13 combined seasons. He was a part of three division winners in each stop, as well as with teams that recorded double-digit victory seasons four times apiece. Grigson reached the Super Bowl with both teams and saw St. Louis win a world championship in Super Bowl XXXIV.
In thanking Irsay for the opportunity, he paused to recognize others who have shaped his life and career along the way.
"First and foremost I want to thank God for giving me a blessing me with this great opportunity," said Grigson. "I want to thank the rock in my life, my wife Cynthia, and my awesome set of kids, Sophia, Noah, Luke, Levi and Ava. They have really been a great support for me, and someone with my job really needs that. They have been out of this world. I want to thank the Eagles organization and everyone involved there, Jeffrey and Christina (Lurie), Coach (Andy) Reid, Joe Banner and Howie Roseman for all of their tutelage and all of the things that they taught me over the years. It was an invaluable experience working for a class organization. We won a lot of games. I really am very, very blessed to have been in those situations and those before with St. Louis."
Grigson has been an ingredient to successes throughout his career. He is the main component now in the evaluation processes with the Colts. It is a role he will approach humbly and aggressively, and he is excited about teaming with Irsay.
"Intriguing. To me it is more than intriguing," said Grigson when describing the general manager's role. "So many words go into this opportunity. It is exciting. I think the thing about it that is so exciting is that I have somebody that is supporting me that I feel is equally as passionate about the game as I am. That is something that really drew me in from the get-go and from the very onset.
"The owner loves this (franchise and competing). One of the questions that they had asked me early on was, 'Why would you hire a general manager?' I think it was the first question, 'What is the first thing you would want them to have in their skill set?' I said, 'They have to love what they do.' I love football. I love scouting. I love people. I think I am good at what I do, because all of those things come natural to me and they are in my heart."
Grigson will be immersed immediately in decisions facing the club. The front-burner issue according to Irsay and Grigson will be the decision on the coaching staff. Jim Caldwell has directed the team since 2009, and a decision on Caldwell and his staff going forward could come by early next week. The club must grapple with decisions on veteran personnel and meeting salary cap mandates later this year. Indianapolis owns the top pick in the draft and has selections in all seven rounds. The club will have the first pick in odd-numbered rounds, but will alternate with St. Louis in the even-numbered rounds since the Rams finished the 2011 season at 2-14 as well. The Colts earned the first overall selection based on strength of schedule.
Grigson was queried Wednesday on decisions like the status of quarterback Peyton Manning and his recovery from neck surgery and if a decision had been reached on if Manning would return in 2012. He used the topic to point out that work is to be done on all fronts and that commenting now is not appropriate.
"I just got here and there are so many things with this (situation)," said Grigson. "There are so many things that we have to go over. It is just unfair to even comment. It is just frivolous for me to even comment on these things, because they are hypotheticals, and I am not about hypotheticals."