INDIANAPOLIS After fielding 22 consecutive questions about Peyton Manning at his NFL Scouting Combine press conference, Ryan Grigson smiled broadly a few minutes later in the Lucas Oil Stadium hallway when the line of questioning changed a bit.
To his years with the Eagles.
Grigson was named general manager of the Colts last month after eight years with the Eagles in a variety of positions, most recently as director of player personnel.
Grigson, 40, has to help make one of the most important decisions in Colts history by March 8, when the franchise must either keep Manning and pay him a 28 million bonus or release one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
Manning is coming off neck surgery, and his future is hazy. Whatever Grigson decides and most people expect the Colts to release Manning his decision-making process is the product of nearly a decade in Philly, working with Andy Reid, Tom Heckert and most recently his close friend Howie Roseman.
I learned a lot, obviously, my time in Philly working under some great, great people in a lot of different areas, Grigson said. I learned a lot from Howie. I hope hed say he learned some things from me. Coach Reid, how to handle players in general, how to handle the media, how to handle things on various levels.
I think they all do it in such a dignified, classful way in Philly. Over the course of time I was there, I was able to absorb quite a bit of knowledge. It's up to me to do it myself now.
Grigson, an offensive lineman at Purdue, was a sixth-round Bengals draft pick in 1995 and spent a couple years in the CFL before injuries cut his pro career short. He went into the personnel side and after winning a Super Bowl ring as a scout with the Rams in 1999, he joined the Eagles as a regional scout in 2004.
He was promoted to director of scouting in 2006 and director of player personnel in 2010. Grigson was up for GM jobs with both the Rams and Bengals this off-season and joined the Colts on Jan. 11.
The annual NFL combine has become kind of a reunion for Reids old staff, with John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera, Pat Shurmur, Leslie Frazier all currently serving as head coaches and now both Heckert and Grigson serving as general managers. Heckert did not attend the Combine.
Its a tribute to coach Reid and Jeff Lurie, Grigson said. Things trickle down from the top. It just goes to show, when you have that great leadership in place, it trickles down to everyone.
If I wasnt there, I probably wouldnt be here right now. Im greatly indebted to them, the whole Eagles organization, Jeffrey, coach Reid, Joe, Howie I miss those guys. Im so happy and blessed to be where I am, this challenge Im faced with, but great, great, great, fond memories. Still talk to those guys. Those guys mean a lot to me. Theyre all near and dear to me.
Grigson was asked about the Eagles team he left behind. The Eagles are coming off an 8-8 season, havent won a playoff game since 2008, havent drafted a Pro Bowl defensive player since 2005 and havent been to the Super Bowl since 2004.
But Grigson believes theres a good, young nucleus in Philly and thinks fans will see that soon.
Its a hard word to use in Philly, but patience, Grigson said. Howie is phenomenal at what he does. Hes a dual threat and theres not many dual threats in the league. He knows talent and hes great with numbers in the cap. Hes unique in that way. Hes passionate. You cant fake how he feels and how he works.
And coach? Hes a proven leader. A proven leader and a talent guy that is continuing to prove himself and will prove himself and Im confident of that. Theyre in great, great hands.