INDIANAPOLIS — In the end, as Jim Irsay said Saturday, something had to be done.
After two straight 8-8 seasons — both of which ending without playoff appearances for a franchise so accustomed to postseason play in recent years — that "something," Irsay announced, was that the team and general manager Ryan Grigson had parted ways.
Chuck Pagano, meanwhile, remains the team's head coach for at least the 2017 season.
The decision, Irsay said, wasn't made lightly. He considered Grigson a grinder who "just gave his sweat, blood and tears … to desperately try to bring us the best game, the best season, the best year he could."
But, as he alluded to Saturday, "this is the move that we need to make."
"I made it slowly, cautiously, prudently, because it's a big decision," said Irsay, who announced the move about three weeks after the team had wrapped up its 2016 season with a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. "And I prefer continuity, but this move was the right move."
That continuity, for now, will be represented by Pagano, as well as Jimmy Raye III, the team's Vice President of Football Operations, who will be the lead on personnel matters moving forward while Irsay finds Grigson's permanent replacement.
While Irsay says he has a list of potential general manager candidates — one that includes Raye III, who had interviewed for the open general manager position with the San Francisco 49ers earlier this offseason — he expressed the importance of making sure the team doesn't fall behind when it comes to keeping its offseason momentum going, which includes the upcoming NFL Draft and free agency.
As such, the Colts' contingent — including Raye III and Pagano — will be traveling on Monday to Mobile, Ala., to begin preparations for the week's Senior Bowl practices and game.
Despite the timing of Saturday's announcement, Irsay doesn't believe the Colts are "behind any curve" when it comes to their GM search.
"I feel confident we will find the exact direction that we need to take in the coming weeks," he said.
That direction won't apparently include legendary Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who was rumored to be in talks with Irsay to possibly become the team's general manager in recent days and weeks.
Irsay said those reports — as well as ones linking former NFL head coach and current ESPN commentator Jon Gruden to the team's head coaching position — were "not true." While he's had plenty of conversations with Manning, "I wouldn't say he is in the picture," Irsay said.
"There was never any serious negotiations."
Towards the end of Saturday's press conference, Irsay was asked to address Colts fans, many of whom have been vociferous in their requests for changes within the organization.
And while "I don't think we ever celebrate a firing," Irsay said, "I want to say to Colts fans that we are extremely fired up going forward."
"They should know that we are really excited for the season, and we look to take back what is rightfully ours," Irsay concluded. "And I'll just leave it at that when it comes to starting to play ball again."
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