INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano walked in lockstep many times in 2012 by instructing players never to put anything in front of "the team."
The notion was when the Colts succeeded there would be enough recognition for all parties involved.
The fruition of the approach has happened twice for Grigson now as he has been tabbed the NFL Executive-of-the-Year by The Sporting News.
"I am thrilled for Ryan Grigson on winning The Sporting News NFL Executive of the Year award," said Owner and CEO Jim Irsay. "This was a challenging year in anyone's book, but Ryan is one of the hardest workers I know, and his dedication paid off. We knew we had someone special when we hired Ryan a year ago, and he is extremely deserving of this honor."
This is award is recognized widely as the top honor for a club executive, and it joins the same citation Grigson recently received from the Pro Football Writers/Pro Football Weekly.
"It's truly an honor to be recognized for this award, and I'm thankful to all of my peers who considered me for this accolade," said Grigson. "Our success this season encompassed the entire organization, including the unwavering support from Mr. Irsay, the dedication of the entire scouting department, the leadership of the coaching staff and the gutsy performance of our players week in and week out. I also owe a big debt of gratitude to my wife, Cynthia, and my five children who sacrificed so much in my first year as general manager.
"This was a very special season and the courage shown by Chuck and this team will be etched in me and the entire Colts family for a lifetime. This year was a stepping stone en route to our ultimate goal - hoisting the Lombardi Trophy together. We're going to continue to work tirelessly until we reach that objective."
Grigson helped re-shape the club's roster by retaining "pillar" veterans such as Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis, mixing them with other established players like Antoine Bethea, Adam Vinatieri and Dwight Freeney. Those were household names that helped create a long winning tradition for Indianapolis.
That heritage, however, had to be updated, and Grigson did so in a talented manner that mixed veteran free agency, the draft, trades and free agent acquisitions from various avenues.
The Colts brought in key talent such as Mike McGlynn, Donnie Avery, Cory Redding, Tom Zbikowski and Samson Satele through unrestricted free agency.
He engineered a number of trades that among others brought Vontae Davis, Moise Fokou, Winston Justice, Drew Stanton and Cassius Vaughn.
Grigson's 2012 draft class was one of the better groups in franchise history. Quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen and receivers T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill headlined the bunch, and the rookie class amassed a post-merger record of 3,108 scrimmage yards.
Linebacker Jerrell Freeman opened 16 games as an undrafted free agent, while the Colts got major contributions from others such as Matt Overton, Darius Butler and A.Q. Shipley.
Grigson, who had 13 previous years in personnel circles with St. Louis and Philadelphia, was adept at finding talent like Freeman, who was a Defensive Player-of-the-Year in the CFL.
Freeman totaled 203 tackles and topped the club in stops in 13 outings. Players who found their way onto the Indianapolis roster in 2012 also hailed from UFL and IFL.
The Colts went from 2-14 to 11-5, with the one-season, nine-game jump tying the third-best in NFL history. The Colts were 9-1 in games decided by seven points or less, winning their last eight such contests.
By reaching the Wild Card playoffs, the Colts became just the third NFL team in 30 years to make the playoffs one year after going 2-14 or worse. By earning 11 wins, the Colts became only the fourth team to win as many as 10 games after a season of two or fewer victories. The Colts became the sixth of 37 teams ever to bounce back with a winning record after having lost 14 or more games the previous season.
The Colts won seven times with fourth-quarter or overtime comebacks, tying a league mark. They did so though Pagano missed 12 games while battling leukemia.
The award from The Sporting News is the fourth time a Colts executive has been honored. Bill Polian won the award in 1999 and 2009. Joe Thomas won the award in 1975.
"I'm very excited for Ryan and when you consider what he had to do this season from a personnel standpoint, this award is particularly well-deserved," said Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano. "He compiled a remarkable draft class and consistently maintained our roster with able bodies as the year went on and we had to deal with injuries. Ryan was steadfast in his decision making and did a phenomenal job through difficult circumstances.
"He has outstanding vision and passion, which are two essential traits that he'll use as he continues to build this team for sustained success."
List of winners of the George Young NFL Executive of the Year Award by the Sporting News:
1955 Dan Reeves, Los Angeles Rams
1956 George Halas, Chicago Bears
1972 Dan Rooney, Pittsburgh
1973 Jim Finks, Minnesota
1974 Art Rooney, Pittsburgh
1975 Joe Thomas, Baltimore Colts
1976 Al Davis, Oakland
1977 Tex Schramm, Dallas
1978 John Thompson, Seattle
1979 John Sanders, San Diego
1980 Eddie LeBaron, Atlanta
1981 Paul Brown, Cincinnati
1982 Bobby Beathard, Washington
1983 Bobby Beathard, Washington
1984 George Young, New York Giants
1985 Mike McCaskey, Chicago Bears
1986 George Young, New York Giants
1987 Jim Finks, New Orleans
1988 Bill Polian, Buffalo
1989 John McVay, San Francisco
1990 George Young, New York Giants
1991 Bill Polian, Buffalo
1992 Ron Wolf, Green Bay
1993 George Young, New York Giants
1994 Carmen Policy, San Francisco
1995 Bill Polian, Carolina
1996 Bill Polian, Carolina
1997 George Young, New York Giants
1998 Jeff Diamond, Minnesota
1999 Bill Polian, Indianapolis
2000 Randy Mueller, New Orleans
2001 Dan Rooney, Pittsburgh
2002 Bruce Allen, Oakland
2003 Scott Pioli, New England
2004 Scott Pioli, New England
2005 Art Rooney II, Pittsburgh
2006 Mickey Loomis, New Orleans
2007 Ted Thompson, Green Bay
2008 Thomas Dimitroff, Atlanta
2009 Bill Polian, Indianapolis
2010 Thomas Dimitroff, Atlanta
2011 Ted Thompson, Green Bay
2012 Ryan Grigson, Indianapolis