Indianapolis Colts Director of Player Development Brian Decker has been named the team’s 2020 NFL and USAA Salute to Service Award nominee.
Born into the military in Texas and raised in Kentucky - for Brian Decker, service was in his blood. His grandfather served in the military in the Korean War and his dad served in the military in Vietnam. There After attending community college for a year and a half, he joined the military – working his way up to Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Special Forces, he did two tours of duty in Iraq. After graduating from Eastern Kentucky and getting his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, Decker continued to serve - overseeing the talent acquisition strategy for future Green Berets. During his three years as Commander of Special Forces Assessment and Selection, the program saw success - so much so that other organizations - military, business, and even sports teams wanted to hear about it. What they realized was that by focusing solely on performance, they were missing on the person. Decker consulted with professional organizations of every major sport and eventually, the Cleveland Browns brought him in to oversee their player selection process. When the Colts brought Ballard in as general manager, he brought Decker in to help with player selection and development. Decker continues to serve and give back by investing in veterans like himself and shining a spotlight on nontraditional ways to bring people in from the military and have them contribute in a valuable way. After 22 years of service, no matter where he goes - in his heart, he’s always a soldier.
The NFL’s Salute to Service Award is presented annually by the USAA and NFL to honor a league member who “demonstrates an exemplary commitment to both honoring and supporting the military community.”
Finalists for this year’s award will be announced in January of 2021, and the recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors Night—which is set to air the eve of Super Bowl LV weekend.
The Athletic’s Zak Keefer (formerly of the IndyStar) had a prior insightful editorial on Decker, and if you haven’t already, I recommend reading it—as it’ll paint a much more in-depth/interesting picture of the Colts former Green Beret than I reasonably could.
Decker has contributed heavily to the Colts front office’s evaluation of prospective incoming players’ character, leadership, drive, and commitment to the team. He’s both helped bring in such ‘Horseshoe guys’, and I’m sure helped vet out those that aren’t a natural cultural or character fit for the organization.
Obviously, on Veterans Day, this is a tremendous honor for Decker—who deserves such recognition—regardless if he’s the ultimate recipient of the award or not.