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Colts’ Bubba Ventrone, Cal Handelman Named to The Athletic’s ‘NFL 40 Under 40’

Two Colts made The Athletic’s annual summer ranking, and the pair includes one name you may have never heard of.

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NFL: JUN 08 Indianapolis Colts Minicamp Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones (subscription), two members of the Indianapolis Colts organization were recently named to the ‘NFL 40 under 40’, special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone and Colts director of administration Cal Handelman:

Bubba Ventrone, Colts special teams coordinator | Age: 39

Ventrone, who played almost exclusively as a special teamer for 10 years in the NFL, began his coaching career in New England. Since joining Frank Reich’s staff in Indianapolis in 2018, the Colts have consistently been among the league’s best special teams units. They ranked second, just behind the Ravens, on Rick Gosselin’s 43rd annual special teams rankings last season after blocking two punts for touchdowns and scoring a third TD after recovering a botched snap.

Two of Ventrone’s specialists, long snapper Luke Rhodes (first team) and special teamer Ashton Dulin (second team), landed on the AP All-Pro team last season. Coverage star George Odum was a first-team selection in 2020. All three were undrafted, just like Ventrone.

“I made it as a ‘teamer,’” Ventrone told The Athletic earlier this month. “So for me, it’s an easy selling point to get those guys to buy in. I’ll show a few clips here and there of myself and when guys see that, ‘Oh, well, he did it, he played with that technique,’ they respect that.”

Cal Handelman, Colts director of administration | Age: 29

Handelman operates very much behind the scenes for the Colts — he doesn’t even have a bio on the team’s website — and was recently promoted from his job as manager of financial analysis. Colts sources said Handelman, who joined the team as an intern in the finance department in 2016, has earned the trust of both owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard and is relied on to bridge the team’s football and business operations.

“Cal’s innovative approach to research and strategy, and his desire to evolve, continues to play a significant role in our team’s success,” Ballard told The Athletic.

Since joining the Colts in 2018, the 39 year old Ventrone has coached what have consistently been among the league’s top special teams units. The Colts ranked 2nd in best overall special teams unit last season by Rick Gosselin. Indianapolis showed a clear knack for creating big plays and scoring opportunities on special teams this past season.

While the Colts no longer feature an elite kicking and punting tandem like Adam Vinatieri and Pat McAfee once were for the franchise, it’s a group that features core special teamers such as reigning NFL All-Pros: long snapper Luke Rhodes and gunner Ashton Dulin.

Ventrone has routinely gotten the best out of his units—and that figures to only continue ahead of the 2022 campaign.

Otherwise, on Handelman, there’s not a whole lot to work off of here other than that it appears he’s a bright young financial mind and certainly a name to watch going forward for the organization.