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Jim Irsay calls Chris Ballard the best GM candidate of the 21st century

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts today announced Chris Ballard as their next general manager during an introductory press conference, and there were plenty of things to note from what Ballard said.

It's also worth noting what Jim Irsay said while introducing Ballard, however, as Irsay talked about the strength of the pool of candidates, the search process, and Ballard - who Irsay called the best GM candidate of the 21st century.  Talk about high praise!

"All candidates, really, and there were six, were outstanding," Irsay said.  "I can't say enough about the men that interviewed for this position. I think the pool's even stronger in 2017 than it was in 2012.   I was thinking about this and I think I can say it with some expertise and some wisdom, is that I really feel, to me, Chris is the best candidate for general manager that's come about so far in the 21st century.  I mean, that's how impressed we were with him. His energy, his experience, his vision, I know that he's going to get with Coach Pagano and the Colts are a much better football team today.

"And this was a very important process, as you guys know," Irsay continued.  "And we were fortunate that people were really excited and interested in coming to Indianapolis and being the general manager for the Colts, and we were proud of that. And I talked to every man after we made our decision and told them, I could see where easily four out of the six guys that interviewed will be general managers in the next five years. And in terms of Jimmy [Raye] in house, he did an outstanding job. He really did. It was tough making this choice because you just felt like you didn't want to leave so many good men out of the process of being hired. I mean, it really was, I felt that way. But with Chris, we are extremely excited."

The Colts interviewed six people for their general manager opening, ultimately deciding on Ballard (he was the only one to be called back for a second interview).  The other candidates were Eliot Wolf, George Paton, Trent Kirchner, Scott Fitterer, and Jimmy Raye III, and Irsay (as well as Ballard) spoke very highly of those candidates and expressed confidence that many of them would be general managers soon.  That sentiment is probably correct, too, as the pool of candidates the Colts put together was a group of some of the most well-respected personnel guys in football.  For the time being, it appears that Raye will stay on the Colts' staff despite getting passed over for the GM position.

We also got a bit of clarity on who was involved in the Colts' general manager search, as Chris Ballard mentioned Jim Irsay, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, Casey Foyt, and Kalen Jackson (four people we knew were involved), as well as Dan Emerson and Pete Ward.  Ultimately, they settled on Chris Ballard, and it's clear that the Colts liked him a lot.

That takes us back to Irsay's statement: he thinks that Ballard is the best GM candidate to come about in the 21st century.  Odds are that's a bit of an overstatement on Irsay's part as he's incredibly excited about this move, but at the same time it's worth pointing out that Ballard was in fact a very well-regarded candidate and has been near the top of GM lists for a few years now.

The Colts got a good one, and if Ballard comes anywhere close to living up to the incredibly high expectations Jim Irsay has already set for him, then it will be looked back on for a long time as a terrific hire that set the Colts back on the right track in the Andrew Luck era.  Hopefully for Irsay, Ballard, and the Colts, that's exactly what happens.