In a manner quite unlike anything I’ve seen before in situations like this, current and former Colts players have been very public in bashing former Colts general manager Ryan Grigson after he was fired earlier this afternoon.
Pat McAfee led the way, saying “Thank God” in response to Grigson’s firing, said he had “unwarranted arrogance,” and that he saw Grigson “treat humans horrendously for 5 years.” Several other former Colts chimed in as well, including one very notable name: former wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
One of the all-time great members of the franchise, Wayne re-signed with the Colts in 2012 and played three years under the Ryan Grigson regime, and he made it clear that he didn’t care for Grigson either and that the sentiment was shared by the majority of the players.
“It was about time,” Wayne said of the firing today on NFL Network. “Everybody saw it coming, it was just wondering when it was going to come. So that was my first reaction. I actually was driving on the interstate and I had to pull over on the shoulder to make sure I read it right. Because it was a long time coming, you heard Mr. Irsay say nobody wants change if you can avoid it, but unfortunately this was a change that needed to be done.”
He also shared some thoughts on what’s next for the Colts, and he emphasized moving forward - something they weren’t doing under Grigson.
“Well you know, now you just have to play ball,” Wayne said. “Now you need to make sure you’ve got the right replacement. We know the history of the Colts in the past 15, 20 years, and we probably should have had more rings but we didn’t but we won games. We won a lot of games, and you just want to continue to build on that. You don’t want to go backwards, you want to move forward, and everybody saw, whether it was fans, players, even if you didn’t like the Colts you saw them going backwards. So that was the problem and now it’s time to move forward.”
If it wasn’t already clear what Wayne thought of Grigson from those comments, he elaborated further on Grigson by telling a story from the 2012 season: that Grigson didn’t even have a serious conversation with him until week eleven.
“Well let me tell you this: when I re-signed with the Colts back in 2012,” Wayne said, “I re-signed with them, was happy to be back, there was a bunch of new faces and that was fine, but I didn’t really sit down and have a real conversation with Ryan Grigson until like week eleven. Like, we would walk past each other in the hallway and don’t say anything. And then one day, around week eleven or week twelve, he called me into his office and we had like a two hour conversation. So that right there, it was kind of weird, being as I was, as you would say, the old head in the bunch. You would think that he would want to sit down with me and have a conversation a lot sooner. So that was kind of strange, and that was just the way he operated. And I understood that was his first time being a GM and he had to learn the ropes and things like that, but there were a lot of little things here and there that he did that was a little awkward.”
For a new general manager, it’s probably a good idea to meet with some of the team’s veteran players and leaders to at least get a feel for the team. That would seem like a logical thing to do, but Wayne made it clear that Grigson really did things differently - and it doesn’t seem that was a good thing. Especially with Chuck Pagano being diagnosed with leukemia after week three, you’d have thought that Grigson would have taken a more direct approach in trying to make sure that the leaders on the team kept the players on track. But no, Wayne said that even when he passed Grigson in the hallway they didn’t say anything.
So is the opinion of McAfee and Wayne shared by the majority of the players when it comes to Grigson?
“Yeah,” Wayne said. “A lot of those guys, they won’t say anything. But Pat is Pat. Pat is going to speak his mind. But that is it. Pat hit it right on the head. He was a different cat. He was a little different the way he operated. He was almost like D-Boy in there. He was in there and he walked around and kind of tried to put fear into people. And that ain’t the way you do it. One thing about players, players, if they like you and they love you, they will lay it on the line for you. And if you walk through there and you’re showing signs of arrogance, guys are going to see through that. And they’re not going to lay it on the line for you. So like I said, this was a long time coming, Mr. Irsay took his time doing it and I respect that, and ultimately he made the right decision.”
Everything we’ve heard so far about Grigson paints a very clear picture: he wasn’t a particular nice guy to work with and he wasn’t liked within the building. I think that can help paint a clearer picture of the dysfunction and disagreement between him and Chuck Pagano as well, and Jim Irsay even seemed to hint at that in his press conference today. And note that we’re not even talking about Grigson’s moves on-the-field, which were reason enough for him to be fired, but the comments have all been about Grigson’s attitude and approach to things. He was perceived to be arrogant and he wasn’t a popular guy with the franchise. And when current and former players are this vocal about it in the hours after that guy is fired, that’s pretty telling - particularly when it comes from one of the best current Colts (McAfee) and one of the best all-time Colts (Wayne).