Ryan Grigson is a big man walking into a big job in Indianapolis.
The former offensive lineman was hired Wednesday as the new general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, a franchise facing some of the biggest questions in its long, storied history. He will have to make a quick decision about whether to keep coach Jim Caldwell, and then whether to build next season's team around four-time league MVP Peyton Manning or probable No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck.
And it's the first time he's had this kind of power in the NFL.
Grigson has spent the past nine years with Philadelphia, where he was named director of player personnel in 2010 after four years as college scouting director. He fit the profile owner Jim Irsay wanted after firing vice chairman Bill Polian and his son, Chris, the Colts' GM, last week once the Colts had wrapped up a dismal 2-14 season that Manning missed completely as he recovers from Sept. 8 neck surgery.
The 39-year-old Grigson will not have the same high profile or carry as much clout as Bill Polian did when he turned the Colts from a perennial also-ran into a perennial playoff team.
But that's not what Irsay was looking for. Instead, Irsay, a former GM himself, brought in somebody with an Indiana background.
Before a back injury forced him to retire in 1997, Grigson was making his name as a prep player in Highland in northwest Indiana and as a captain at Purdue University. As a Boilermaker, he also survived a life-threatening illness that occurred after a blow to the abdomen during his junior season.
A relative who answered the phone in Highland said the family was "extremely excited" but had been asked to wait to make additional comments until after an afternoon news conference to introduce Grigson.
In 1999, Grigson was hired by the St. Louis Rams as a national scout, helping the Rams win a Super Bowl title in his first season with the team. In 2001, the Rams promoted Grigson to area scout, a position he held until joining the Eagles as a regional scout in 2004. The Eagles went to the Super Bowl in his first season in Philly, too. He became the director of college scouting in 2006 before earning his next promotion in 2010.
Now he has one of the toughest jobs in football.
Right at the top, he must decide whether to keep Caldwell, who won the AFC title in 2009 and the AFC South crown in 2010.
Then comes the decision about Manning, who is owed a $28 million bonus by March 8 or he will become an unrestricted free agent. And then he must decide what to do with a host of other big-name players whose contracts have expired. The list includes former Pro Bowlers Robert Mathis, Jeff Saturday and Reggie Wayne, who are all now in their 30s.
Grigson played tight end and offensive tackle for Purdue from 1991-94. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round in 1995 and spent one season as an NFL player with the Detroit Lions. He also spent one season with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League before suffering a career-ending back injury.
After his playing career, Grigson had stints as a scout for Saskatchewan of the CFL, as an assistant coach at McPherson College in Kansas, and as player personnel coordinator and assistant coach for the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League.