No coach or general manager is ever going to come out and say, "We're looking for guys that don't really care all that much about football." You could walk this Earth for a thousand years and never once hear one of them say, "Character and physical traits aren't really all that important to us."
You'll find much of the same in Monday's Football Morning in America, Peter King's regular column that today was guest written by Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard.
But in that column, Ballard explains a thought you really don't hear that often, at least not verbalized in this way. Finding players that fit your culture is important, but not just because you're looking for another well-fitting brick in the wall, but because each brick you add is a message to all the other bricks already in the wall. It's another reminder of the coaching truism, "You're either coaching it or letting it happen," simply taken to another level.
And it's a message that applies just as well to college football as the NFL.
You are telling the locker room every time you draft a player, “this is what we stand for.” If you bring in someone with a poor work ethic, or someone who is selfish, or someone who is unwilling to put in the work, you’re telling the locker room that that’s OK. Jerry Angelo used to say all the time that the talent of a player will tell you his ceiling, but his football character determines his floor. It’s critical to get that right, so we know the floor.
To help find each player's floor, Ballard has hired former Green Beret Brian Decker, whom he didn't know of at all until reading an ESPN article about him, which later led to Decker becoming the Colts' director of player development. "His role has really grown in two years and has become a valuable resource to our coaches, scouts, and players," Ballard wrote.