INDIANAPOLIS – Chris Ballard has earned one of the Pro Football Writers Association’s top off-the-field honors.
The Indianapolis Colts general manager has been named recipient of the Jack Horrigan Award, presented annually to a league or team official who has aided pro football writers in better doing their job.
That description shouldn’t be casually dismissed. The NFL, like many entities, often operates with an Us vs. Them mentality. Gleaning information beyond the normal personnel transactions and interaction with coaches can be difficult, often leading to misinformation.
Since being named GM in January 2017, Ballard has been accessible and accommodating both locally and on a national stage. There clearly have been issues he has not shared with the local media, but he nonetheless has offered insight on various topics.
Since taking over on-field leadership of the franchise, Ballard has made it a point to react quickly and expansively on several seismic events. That includes the revelation during the 2017 training camp – Ballard’s first – that quarterback Andrew Luck would miss the season with his shoulder issues, Josh McDaniels’ last-minute decision to renege on a February 2018 agreement to succeed Chuck Pagano as head coach, and the numbing news Aug. 24, 2019 that Luck had decided to retire.
More invaluable to the local media have been informal, post-draft meetings during which Ballard has gone into great detail on numerous topics: the evaluation process of draft picks, his rationale on building a roster, what went into signing this free agent or releasing that veteran.
Such an approach is not routinely followed across the NFL landscape.
This is the second time the PFWA has cited Ballard. The organization named him 2018 Executive of the Year. Ballard’s predecessor, Ryan Grigson, was selected Executive of the Year in 2012.
Previous Jack Horrigan Award winners include Joe Horrigan in 2019 (Pro Football Hall of Fame), Randall Liu in ’18 (NFL office), Mike Mayock in ’17 (NFL Network), John Elway in ’16 (Denver GM/president of football operations), Bruce Arians in ’15 (Arizona head coach), Pete Carroll in ’14 (Seattle head coach), Mike Signora in ’13 (NFL office) and Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta GM).
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.