San Diego Chargers President Dean Spanos has named former Indianapolis Colts Vice President of Football Operations Tom Telesco the team’s new general manager. Telesco will oversee all aspects of football operations and player personnel decisions for the Chargers.
“We set out to find the right person to bring about positive change for the San Diego Chargers,” said Spanos. “It was a tough decision, but in the end, all signs pointed to Tom. He is highly respected among his NFL peers. His work ethic is extraordinary. He is honest, humble, engaging and an excellent communicator. And, most important, he knows how to build a winning football team.
“Now that we have this critical piece in place, our goal is land the right coach to lead the team back to where it belongs: in the playoffs and to a Super Bowl championship.”
Telesco, 40, becomes the youngest general manager in Chargers history. He spent the last 15 seasons with the Colts, serving in a variety of capacities, including vice president of football operations (2012), director of player personnel (2006-11), director of pro scouting (2005-05), pro scout (2001-03) and area scout (1998-00).
“I’m excited for the opportunity to be part of the San Diego Chargers family and the San Diego community,” said Telesco. “I’m grateful to Dean, John (Spanos), Ed McGuire and Ron Wolf for showing faith in me. I spent a lot of time with them and the interview process was extremely thorough and detailed. We discussed every facet of football operations, top to bottom. During the process it became clear that our philosophies and goals are one and the same. I can’t wait to get started.”
Telesco was a part of the decision-making process that brought quarterback Andrew Luck to the Colts with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Luck led the Colts to a record of 11-5 during his rookie season and a berth in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs. The Colts went from 2-14 to 11-5 in a span of one year as their roster went through a complete overhaul. At the end of the 2012 season, the roster featured 36 new players from the end of the previous year.
Telesco’s tenure with the Colts was one of the most successful eras of the franchise’s history that also included a move into a new stadium, Lucas Oil Field, which played host to Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5, 2012. From 1998-12, the Colts went 154-86 and appeared in the playoffs 12 times, winning eight division titles, while finishing second four times. Those 12 postseason appearances included a victory over Chicago in Super Bowl XLI following the 2006 season and a loss to New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV after the ’09 season. Indianapolis’ 154 wins from 1998-12 were the second-most in the NFL during that span (New England, 168).
“I’m thrilled that Tom has been named the general manager of the Chargers,” said former Bills and Colts General Manager Bill Polian. “He is a first-rate executive, a first-rate football man and a first-rate person. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him for over 20 years. I can assure you and assure all Chargers fans that he will do a great job for them.”
“I had the privilege of working with Tom for seven years in Indianapolis,” said former Buccaneers and Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy. “He is a great football man but also a great person. He understands the game. He knows what good players look like. He is just very adept at identifying them and finding them. More than that I think he understands what makes a good organization. I think he is going to be fantastic for the Chargers. I’m excited for Tom and excited for the Chargers organization.”
Telesco’s first season in Indianapolis (1998) coincided with the Colts drafting of another quarterback with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, Peyton Manning. Since that time, he was involved in a number of successful drafts with the Colts that included the selections of four-time Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James, five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne and seven-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Dwight Freeney.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Telesco worked as a summer intern at the Bills’ training camps during the 1991-94 seasons. At the same time, he played wide receiver at John Carroll University in Ohio where he was a starter for the school’s Ohio Athletic Conference championship team in 1994. Telesco graduated in ’95 with a degree in business management, the same year he landed his first NFL job as a scouting assistant with the Carolina Panthers. He spent three years with the Panthers, including 1997 as an area scout before joining the Colts in ’98.