Jim Caldwell's First Public Words as the Colts' Head Coach
INDIANAPOLIS – It was, as Jim Irsay put it, a day for moving forward.
It also was a day for getting to know Jim Caldwell.
Irsay, the Colts' Owner and Chief Executive Officer, on Tuesday afternoon at a press conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center introduced Caldwell as the 17th head coach of one of the NFL's most successful, tradition-rich franchises.
But who is Jim Caldwell?
What is his background?
Who has influenced him?
Caldwell, a Colts assistant the last seven years and the team's associate head coach since January 2008, said on Tuesday he knows that as a former assistant many people may not know the answer to such questions. As such, he spent the first part of his introductory press conference addressing the issues.
What follows is Caldwell's first public words as the Colts' head coach:
From this day forward I will thrive in the quality environment that Jim Irsay, (Colts President) Bill Polian and (former Head Coach) Tony Dungy have created. I want to thank each one of them for the confidence they have placed in me, and what a privilege it is to direct one of the great organizations in the National Football League.
Thanks to Jim and Meg (Irsay) and their family for the first-class environment they have established. Jim has been trained in this business. He knows it inside out from the time he was (involved in it) in his early teens. He has a great love and passion for this team, and it certainly reveals itself in every aspect of this organization. He provides every available resource for success.
I'm looking forward to working in close contact with maybe the premier football man in this business in Bill Polian. He's just absolutely outstanding. We've had an opunity to work together here the last seven years and we've had a lot of interaction, particularly during the draft and also other personnel matters, which I've enjoyed. He's a great guy to deal with on a daily basis, and he has put together a great team with (son and Vice President of Football Operations) Chris (Polian) and also (Director of Player Personnel) Tom (Telesco). They do a great job in the personnel areas, but he's maybe one of the most well-respected individuals in our profession, and that goes without saying. He has an abundance of knowledge and expertise in a variety of areas, and I plan to lean heavily upon him throughout my tenure.
I want to thank Tony for all that he has done for me over the years. He has been a friend, a confidant, a mentor, who has won the right way with humility and strength and integrity and class and never compromised his Christian values. He provided a candid, bird's-eye view for me, particularly over the last four years or so, where I would ask him if I could come in ask him questions about different aspects of this game and particularly on the pro football level: how he handled discipline. Situations which were very, very difficult, he gave me an opportunity to kind of talk with him, to exchange ideas, to certainly get a real good sense of how things should be done. He set a great example for all of us in this profession.
I just finished reading a book that was titled 'Outliers' by a gentleman by the name of Malcolm Gladwell. He noted in a passage the definition of 'meaningful work' and I think it certainly goes without saying you can sense that around here. Bill and Jim have created this environment. He stated 'meaningful work' had to include complexity, which we certainly have here, it's a very complex game; autonomy, which is certainly one of the hallmarks of this organization because they give you an opportunity to coach, they give you an opportunity to deal with your own players and your own area of expertise; and there's also a direct correlation between effort and reward, and you certainly sense that in our game. I thank those three men for putting this thing together, the environment they've created and for the privilege for me to take over this franchise and move it forward.
I want to recognize a great group of players and coaches who constantly represent this organization in a championship manner on and off the field. They give the kind of energy and effort and execution and commitment to public service on a daily basis.
Perhaps the question that may be asked is, 'What can you expect from Jim Caldwell?' Often times, you don't get a chance to know individuals as assistants and I'm certain that is the case with me. What I want to say first of all to the Colts organization: I commit to enthusiastically represent this organization in a first-class manner with humility, passion and persistence. To the players and coaches: I commit to creating an atmosphere that is conducive to success. When they approach the complex, they can expect an open-door policy with every ounce of my energy to make certain that they have a sense that when you come here, you have an opportunity to get better. To the loyal Colts fans that live and die with us each and every week: I commit that your team will continue to play fast, smart and physical. To the National Football League: I commit to protect the integrity of the game on and off the field. To the media: I have one goal today and that is just to make certain that my first press conference isn't immortalized as one of those beer commercials. (Laughter from audience) But I do look forward to working with you. I understand the importance of what you do and I will assist in that endeavor.
Another question that one may ask is, 'Who is Jim Caldwell?' Number one, I am a Christian, not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I try to live my life accordingly. Number two, I am a son. My father, Willie, is a retired General Motors employee of 35 years, who often worked two jobs but still found time to somehow coach my brother and I on our little league team. I never heard him complain, never heard him make any excuses. My mother, Mary, a retired nurse, spent most of her years in service in geriatric care. She was a nurse's aide, an LPN, an RN and rose to supervisor of a nursing home. The two of them set a great example for me to live by: hard work, determination, and resilience after disappointment along with strong Christian values. I am a brother. I have an older sister and a younger brother. I am a husband. You met my wife Cheryl of 31 years. She has been a constant and loyal companion, and I've known her since I was 15 years old, so she probably knows me better than anyone else around except for my parents. She loves the game of football, has been part of it, has been a great support to me and certainly allowed me to perfect my craft, took care of our children and directed them while I was off either chasing recruits or working in the office studying film during those early days. I am a father. I have a son, Jimmy, who's 30; a son, Jermaine, who's 27; a son, Jared, who's 25; and a daughter, Natalie, who's 23. I am a grandfather. Jimmy and his wife blessed me with a grandson, James Caldwell III, a.k.a. Trey, who's about 20 months old and certainly the joy of our life. As a matter of fact Cheryl is here with me often, but I became a second-class citizen after that baby was born.
"The third question that one might ask is, 'Who has been an influence on you and your career?' I have been influenced by a number of great men in this profession and I want to recognize a few that have had a profound impact on my career. John Heineke, Phil White, Bernie Barkin, those names mean nothing to you, but in an old small town of about 35,000 people in Southern Wisconsin, it rings true because those were men that had a direct impact on our community through sports. They challenged us, they made us better, they developed us, they made us commit to our craft and it certainly has made a difference, I think, in the lives of all of those who had an opportunity to compete and play for them. I want to mention the name of Rey Dempsey, who I worked for at my first job down in Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. A real taskmaster. He indoctrinated me into the business. He's one of those guys that worked those kinds of hours that were cultural at that time within our profession, from the wee hours in the morning. We'd get up the next morning with maybe three or four hours sleep and go right back at it again. And that was consistent throughout the year. But he certainly taught you how important detail-oriented work was. He was a great fundamental teacher and one of college football's great taskmasters. He always had this sign on his desk and I'll never forget it. It said, 'Get After It.' I tried to use that as my motto in terms of every day when I walk into the office, there's something to get done and you have to be able to get it done in a short period of time. Dennis Green is a name you've all heard. One of the great motivators in our business, he had a keen eye for talent and one of the most organized individuals that I've worked for, and I worked for him at Northwestern University. Bill McCartney, I worked for at the University of Colorado. I still remember a quote that he had on the front of our playbook, the first page that you flip over. He had a quote by Fielding Yost. He wanted to be the kind of guy that had an influence on people, certainly won football games and certainly won championships, but also make a difference in the lives of young people. He wanted to set a great example. So, what he included in there was a quote by the great football coach from the University of Michigan (Yost). It said, 'To me, no coach in America has asked to make a sacrifice. He asked that you do just the opposite. Live clean, come clean, think clean, stop doing all the things that hurt you mentally, physically and morally and start doing the things that make you keener, finer and more competent.' That has stuck with me over the years. I worked for Howard Schnellenberger at the University of Louisville. Howard is a Bear Bryant clone. He measures his words the same way, a very hard-nosed individual. Let me tell you something: he could probably instill toughness in a teddy bear. He's one of those guys that really does a great job in terms of setting standards for winning, and he continues to do so even today. He's over 70 years old and I saw he just won his last bowl game. He has won six straight bowl games down at Florida Atlantic. I worked for Joe Paterno at Penn State University, as Bill (Polian) had alluded to. One of the great strategists and tacticians the game has ever known. One of the things that he taught me was to rely on your fundamentals and techniques. He said, 'You can't rely on fooling people.' That's extremely important, and I think Coach Dungy kind of echoed some of those same things. One phrase you're going to hear me echo from time to time that sticks with me every single day, Paterno would always say, 'Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.' That's kind of the motto on which I kind of build my principles in terms of football. We're going to take care of all those little things, the detail work, and the big things will indeed take care of themselves. Coach Dungy . . . I've spent eight years with Coach Paterno, eight years with Coach Dungy, and Tony has been just an excellent, excellent teacher, instructor and mentor in my life. He's had a huge impact on the way I think all of us view the game of football, and the game of life that you play along with it. He is an unflappable individual and that's certainly what kept our teams in a lot of ballgames when things looked a little bleak and looked like they were going to be a little tough to overcome, simply because of the fact that he never got rattled. A lot of poise, a lot of patience.
All of those men were great leaders and great men and the great majority of them have all some championship or another. So I stand before you today having drawn from all of those experiences to face a great challenge that I am looking forward to.
Over the last four years in preparation for head coaching positions across the country that I interviewed for in this league, I had an opportunity to kind of put together my game plan. One of the things I put in there was that first 30 days on the job, and ironically, I pulled it out the other day once I found out that Tony wasn't coming back – to kind of review it and take a look at it. And how appropriate it is even for this situation because essentially, everything is relatively new for me. Although I am very, very familiar with the groundwork, I'm very, very familiar with the people within the organization, but my view, my perspective has changed. As an assistant coach, you have somewhat of a narrow scope. You're looking at your job. You're trying to make certain that your job is done to the best of your ability. And the things that lie outside of it, particularly within the organization, there are other assistant coaches that are responsible for those areas, and the head coach governs it all. So now I'm going to start to look at things from a different lens, and that's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to that. So my first 30 days, some of the things I talked about is getting acquainted obviously with your staff. I'm in the process right now, even though I know the guys and know them well, but yet it's a little bit different perspective, we sit down and we talk about some things and we're trying to make certain that we have a good understanding of one another and where we can plan to go with this situation. I have an opportunity now to talk to the marketing staff, to talk to a number of the other groups that are so vital to this organization, individuals that are dealing with our community service and sort of set my game plan in terms of how I would like to interact with them and the things that we would like to participate in. So it's all new, it's all different. It's a little different perspective, which I'm certainly happy to be a part of and I can't wait to put my stamp on things.