General Manager, San Diego Chargers
Tom Telesco's first season in San Diego was a rousing success as he retooled the Chargers' roster through the draft and free agency and enjoyed the results of his and his staff's work as the Bolts went 9-7 in the regular season; earned the team's first playoff berth since 2009, and won the franchise's first postseason game since 2008.
His first big move was suggesting to Chargers President Dean Spanos that they hire former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy as head coach.
With a promising young and talented head coach on board, Telesco turned his eye to the roster where his keen eye for talent resulted in the Chargers going to the playoffs with a roster that featured 25 players who joined the team prior to or during the 2013 season. Telesco started his tenure with several notable free agent acquisitions, including jack-of-all-trades running back Danny Woodhead, left guard Chad Rinehart and left tackle King Dunlap. An adept pass-catcher out of the backfield, Woodhead went on to set career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns, while leading the entire NFL in touchdown catches by a running back. Rinehart and Dunlap provided stability along an offensive line that gave up only 30 sacks in 2013, tied for fourth-fewest in the entire NFL. Telesco also was instrumental in bringing Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis' all-time leader in career sacks, to San Diego.
Telesco delivered even more talent to San Diego with an outstanding 2013 draft class. His first pick, right tackle D.J. Fluker, earned all-rookie honors after starting 15 games, including three at left tackle when the team was left shorthanded due to injuries. In the second round, Telesco drafted former Notre Dame All-America and Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o, who overcame an early-season foot injury to start the final 13 games of the regular season and finish the year third on the team with 93 tackles. And in the third round, Telesco made perhaps the biggest steal of the entire draft when he chose wide receiver Keenan Allen, who earned a host of postseason honors, including a pair of rookie of the year selections. Allen's accolades came at the conclusion of a season in which he led all NFL rookies in receptions (71), yards (1,046) and touchdown catches (eight). His yardage total also led the team and was the most by a rookie in franchise history, while his 71 catches were second-most on the team and set another franchise rookie mark. Allen's outstanding rookie year wasn't limited to the regular season, as he led the team with eight catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs, including a six-catch, 142-yard, two-touchdown effort in the Jan. 12 Divisional Playoffs at Denver.
Telesco joined the Chargers in Jan. 2013 after spending 15 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, including 2012 as their vice president of football operations. He oversees all aspects of football operations and player personnel decisions for the Chargers. Hired at the age of 40, Telesco became the youngest general manager in Chargers history.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Telesco started his football journey as a prep standout at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, N.Y. One of his teammates at St. Francis was David Caldwell, general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, which was co-hosted by New York and New Jersey, Telesco and Caldwell were recognized for their accomplishments on the floor of the New York State Senate by Senator Timothy Kennedy.
“As the nation's eyes turn towards New York and the lead-up to this year's Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, I rise to honor two western New Yorkers who have worked their way to the top of their respective NFL franchises,” said Kennedy. “Tom Telesco, a 1991 graduate of St. Francis High School was introduced last season as the general manager of the San Diego Chargers, while Dave Caldwell from St. Francis class of 1992 was hired as the general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The future is bright for these men and the franchises they lead.”
Telesco landed his first NFL job working for Bill Polian, one of the most-successful football executives in NFL history. Telesco was teammates at John Carroll University with Polian's two sons, Chris and Brian. All the while, Telesco spent four summers (1991-94) as a training camp intern with the Buffalo Bills, while the elder Polian was the team's general manager. And when Polian left Buffalo for the general manager's job in Carolina in 1994, he hired Telesco in 1995 to work in the Panthers' scouting department. He later followed Polian to Indianapolis in 1998 and that's where Telesco spent the next 15 NFL seasons, serving as a college scout, pro scout, director of pro scouting, director of player personnel and vice president of football operations. He worked in Indianapolis during Peyton Manning's entire career with the Colts and he was part of the decision-making process that brought quarterback Andrew Luck to the Colts with the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. Telesco also was involved in drafts with the Colts that featured the selections of four-time Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James, five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne, and Freeney, a seven-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker.
Telesco's tenure in Indianapolis was one of the most successful eras of the franchise's history. The Colts won 115 regular-season games from 2000-09, an NFL record for wins in a decade. From 1998-12, the Colts went 154-86 in the regular season and appeared in the playoffs 12 times, including nine-straight appearances from 2002-10, eight division titles and four second-place finishes. Their 154 wins during those 15 seasons were second-most in the NFL during that span behind New England's 168. The Colts set an NFL record with 12-or-more wins in seven consecutive seasons, they became the first team in NFL history to win at least seven games in a row in five straight seasons, and they won an NFL-record 23 straight regular-season games over the 2008-09 seasons. And their 12 postseason appearances included a victory over Chicago in Super Bowl XLI following the 2006 season and a loss to New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV after the '09 season. In Telesco's final season with the Colts, the franchise went through one of the most successful turnarounds in NFL history as Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 record and a berth in the wild card playoffs just a year removed from a 2-14 mark in 2011. At the end of the 2012 season, Indianapolis' roster featured 36 new players from the end of the previous year.
Telesco played wide receiver at John Carroll University and he was a starter on the Blue Streaks' Ohio Athletic Conference championship team in 1994. He graduated in 1995 with a degree in business management. He and wife, Larah, have a daughter, Elena, and sons, Thomas and Nicholas.