AL HAMNIK: Highland's Grigson steering Indy team through stormy seas

2014-03-25T17:45:00Z 2014-03-26T20:59:14Z AL HAMNIK: Highland's Grigson steering Indy team through stormy seasAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 25, 2014 5:45 pm  • 

Ryan Grigson loves his job as general manager of the Colts, with its suffocating pressure, long hours and incredible demands.

It's a position he's worked hard for and sacrificed so much to get. The Colts are his extended family, and team owner Jim Irsay like a second father to the Highland grad.

There have been emotional highs and lows in Grigson's short tenure. Coach Chuck Pagano had to battle back from cancer in the 2012 season, Grigson's first. And earlier this month, Irsay entered a treatment facility after police found multiple prescription drugs in his vehicle during a traffic stop.

The 54-year-old Irsay faces preliminary charges of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and four felony counts of a controlled substance.

But that's old news. The focus now within the Colts organization is the NFL draft May 8 to 10, which Grigson will run while Carlie Irsay-Gordon represents her father at team meetings.

If anyone can steer this ship through stormy seas, it's Ryan Richard Grigson.

During a recent conference call with media, the former Purdue lineman discussed the upcoming draft, his role and the glaring absence of his boss.

And he did it while being all-business.

"Everyone in the building loves the man. We all would run through a brick wall for him," Grigson said. "We are all really pulling for him. I'll just leave it at that."

Irsay will be there in spirit, however.

"Again, he leaves the football stuff to me. He trusts me," Grigson said. "He hired me to make football decisions, and I don't see any of that changing."

It's good news for Colts fans, who saw Grigson inherit a 2-14 team, clean house, sign some productive free agents, draft a few surprises, then go 11-5 each of the last two regular seasons.

Grigson said he won't hesitate to consult with Irsay if and when it benefits the team. There are no power struggles here like within many corporate families.

"If there's a transaction that's going down or I need to use his plane in free agency, or I need to lean on him in terms of his football knowledge, then I'll reach out to him," Grigson said.

He wouldn't name players the Colts are interested in or the positions they must fill. Nobody does that. The NFL draft is high-stakes poker, and you'd be crazy to show your hand.

All Grigson would say is he wants to "solidify every position group possible the best we can."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, a strong disciplinarian who is known around the league as "the hanging judge," said Irsay is subject to some type of discipline even though no formal charges had been filed.

Grigson can't and won't let that be a distraction.

"When I took this job, Jim wanted me to have a dynasty-type mindset to win championships, plural," Grigson said. "You can't just put all of your eggs in one basket one year and a year after, those guys are gone or are too old.

"Then your roster gets blown back to the Stone Age."

His approach, and it's quite simple, is to infuse the team with draft picks and young players who can grow together and be great together.

Grigson has done that everywhere he's been as a successful scout, so why change now?

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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