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St. Francis grad Tom Telesco overseeing San Diego overhaul

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tom Telesco's impressive rise in football operations came full circle this week at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Telesco, a St. Francis High alum, spent the past 15 years in the Indianapolis Colts' front office. He won a Super Bowl ring. He saw this new stadium get built.

But he stepped to the lectern Thursday with a San Diego Chargers logo on his shirt. The Chargers last month made Telesco their youngest general manager in club history.

Telesco learned at the knee of former Buffalo Bills GM Bill Polian, the Colts' former president. With the Chargers, Telesco replaced one of Polian's top Bills aides, A.J. Smith.

"Well, you're looking at 15-plus years of working with Bill Polian, who in my mind is the best in the business -- but I'm biased, obviously -- and then one year with Ryan [Grigson], who ended up being executive of the year," Telesco said.

"Without that whole learning process, there's no way I'm here without those two guys and the whole organization. Everything I've learned has been from the Colts, really."

Telesco, 40, was asked to describe his managerial style.

"I don't know if I even have a style," Telesco said. "I don't really concern myself too much with that. You come into work every day, trying to find the best players we can.

"Part of building chemistry with the team and the team process is getting to know the coaches well, getting to know the scouts, the front office. That's all part of team building for me. It's just trying to get to know everybody really well. That's what we're going through right now. I like to communicate with people."

Telesco has a difficult task ahead. The Chargers went 7-9, missing the playoffs a third straight season after qualifying five of the previous six years.

He will be working with first-year head coach Mike McCoy.

But Telesco helped the Colts go through a successful transition last year. The Colts fired Polian and head coach Jim Caldwell and lost quarterback Peyton Manning.

The Colts went to the playoffs with first-year GM Grigson, first-year head coach Chuck Pagano (sidelined by cancer treatments) and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.

"A lot had to be turned over in a short period of time," Telesco said. "To watch those guys do it and do it so well has been a huge help for me already.

"The big thing is watching that process of two first-time guys take on an organization that had to do a lot of turnover. I watched them intently, tried to learn as much as I could. I watched Ryan aggressively turn the bottom half of that roster over. Weekly, Mondays and Tuesdays are when we have transactions coming in and coming out.

"I don't know if it's a similar process, but it's helped me watch those two guys work because we're in a very similar situation" in San Diego.


2013 NFL scouting combine | Bill Polian | Tom Telesco
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |