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Tom Telesco Attends Combine with Heavy Heart After Loss of Mentor
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Everyone knows that Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco cut his teeth under Hall of Famer Bill Polian.
However, there was another personnel man who was an equally influential figure.
Telesco first got to know Anile when the future Chargers GM was breaking into the business with the Carolina Panthers over 20 years ago.
Sadly, Anile passed away days before the Combine began, and thus was on Telesco’s mind throughout the entire week.
“Naturally, everyone puts me in the Bill Polian tree, which I’m very proud of,” Telesco said in Indianapolis. “But I worked for Dom Anile for over 15 years as a college scouting director, and he taught me how to scout…. I can tell you right now I would not be a general manager if it wasn’t for him. He taught me how to scout from A-Z.”
There have been so many well-known personnel men throughout the NFL’s history that it’s a shame more don’t know about Anile. But while those on the outside may not know his name firsthand, he’s certainly regarded as a legend by those on the inside.
Anile began his NFL career in 1983 as a scout for the Cleveland Browns. In 1994, after Polian was named the first general manager of the Carolina Panthers, one of his first moves was to hire Anile as his player personnel director. After Polian moved to the Colts in 2007, he hired Anile as Indianapolis’ director of football operations, where he was tasked with rebuilding the team’s scouting structure. Anile worked for the Colts through 2009, eventually also holding the title of assistant general manager and finally player personnel consultant.
It was back in the mid-90s when Telesco met Anile while with the Panthers. Thus, the Chargers’ GM served under him for the next 15 years.
The more Telesco talks about Anile, the clearer it becomes exactly why he holds his mentor in such high regard.
“In 1995, which is our first year at the Panthers, Dom was on the road at Nebraska in August on a scouting trip,” he said. “He was running to catch a plane and tore his Achilles. So for the rest of the fall, he was in the office every day. He had a desk in the draft room, and I had a little desk with two other staffers. The three of us sat in there every day with Dom, and he taught me how to watch tape, how to write a report, how to present a report, how to take what I see with my eyes and put it on paper so someone can read it and visualize what I saw. He taught me how to make a scouting schedule. He taught me how to scout an area of the country. He taught me which coaches to talk to at schools and which ones to avoid. The whole time he was in there, he was teaching me.”
But that doesn’t mean it was always easy.
“He was tough,” Telesco said. “Like really tough. But I think he was because he saw potential in us.”
That falls in line with what Polian said when asked about the relationships he saw first-hand over the years between Anile and Telesco.
“Dom was an exceptionally good football man,” Polian said. “Understood both coaching and talent evaluation, and how they meshed. He understood X’s-and-O’s and talent. He was an exceptionally hard worker and an exceptionally good teacher. He was able to get his message across and impart the important things that you have to do if you are going to be a good scout. He was a team player in every respect. Phenomenal. I never made a personnel move without discussing it with him.
“Dom really enjoyed mentoring young people, so largely at his urging, we continued to bring young scouts into our program, like Tom. He trained them, but he was hard on them and quite a few others. He could be really hard on them, but he was phenomenal at it. Phenomenal.”
Telesco clearly owes a lot to Anile, and hopes he is able to have the same impact on the young scouts who work for the Chargers.
Still, he knows that is near impossible since there will only ever be one Dom Anile.
“I would like to be the same type of teacher that Dom was, but I know I could never be as good as he was,” he said. “Dom was a coach for a long time. He was a school teacher for a little while. So, it was in his blood to teach. He was really good at it, and that’s why myself, Chris Polian, Dave Caldwell, Todd Vasvari and Matt Terpening all moved our way up the ladder in the NFL. It all came from him.” Read