The Chargers’ search for their next general manager was an extensive one, sending them on a journey across the country to conduct a number of interviews.
After countless miles traveled and hours spent meeting with qualified candidates, the Chargers found their man, Tom Telesco.
But now we all want to know, who is Tom Telesco?
He’s a man who lives and breathes football, and has for his entire life.
Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Telesco is proud to call it his hometown. After all, that’s where he first fell in love with the game of football.
“I’m a big Buffalo guy,” he said proudly. “I loved living there. To me it’s one of those places that when you grow up there you love it, but maybe if you move there from somewhere else it may not be your cup of tea. But man, I loved it. The people are passionate for football there.”
Telesco went to college at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he played wide receiver for four years for the Division III school while majoring in business management. So how does Tom Telesco the GM grade Tom Telesco the wideout?
“Not draftable, I can tell you that!” he laughed. “Not draftable and not good enough to get into a camp. I was good enough to play at a division III school and I started there, but even there I wasn’t a difference maker or a big play guy. I was just out there playing doing my role.”
While attending college, Telesco got his first taste of professional football as a summer intern with the Buffalo Bills during training camp from 1991-94.
“I interned initially because I wanted to help my playing career at John Carroll,” he said. “When you’re a division III player you’ve got to find some different ways to do things because obviously I wasn’t talented enough to play at a higher level. I was a ball boy there and I was old. I would stay with the receivers all the way through practice, and I worked in the equipment room. I did anything just to stay around there. But when I was working there I was trying to learn to help me play, and I kind of saw the scouts at practice and kind of wondered what they did. And I was thinking at that point I wanted to stay in football, maybe coach or go into scouting.”
Telesco landed his first full-time NFL gig with the Carolina Panthers in 1995 as a scouting assistant, and that’s where things started clicking for him.
“There I started to figure out what it’s all about and I liked it,” he said. “As a kid, I just loved football, but I didn’t know much about things like the draft. I just loved to play it. So with the Panthers is where I figured things out.”
Telesco left Carolina in 1998 to become an area scout for the Indianapolis Colts, and spent two years in that role before being promoted to a Pro Scout. In 2003, he was named the team’s Director of Pro Scouting, and in 2005 became the Director of Player Personnel. Prior to the 2012 season, he was elevated yet again to his current role as Vice President of Football Operations before today being named the Chargers General Manager.
So what does Telesco like to do with what little spare time he has when he isn’t in the office?
“As far as hobbies go, I don’t have a whole lot of hobbies,” he said. “To be honest, my hobby is my family and my kids. I like to work out and to run. I’m a big sports guy beyond football. I like basketball and baseball and hockey. But overall, it’s my family.”
Telesco is married to his wife Larah, who is also from upstate New York. But that’s not where they met.
“I actually met her in a bar in Charlotte,” he laughed with a broad smile. “I mean, where else would you meet somebody but in a bar? But it was so random in the fact that we were both in Charlotte but both from the same state.”
Fast forward to 2013 and the couple now has three children, Elena, 9, Thomas, 7 and Nicholas, 5. Telesco is looking forward to starting a new chapter in their lives here in San Diego.
“Our kids were born and raised in Indianapolis,” he said. “So it will be a little bit new for them. I’ve lived in Buffalo, went to school in Cleveland and I worked in Charlotte, North Carolina for three years, so I’ve moved around quite a bit. But 15 years in one spot you get kind of comfortable, so it will be different, but we’re very excited. For the kids it will be a bit of a transition, but they can’t wait to get here. We’re looking forward to it.”
Still, the Chargers new GM isn’t that familiar with the city, even though he’s been here numerous times on scouting trips.
“The only areas of San Diego I really know are the Mission Valley Marriott and Qualcomm Stadium,” he admitted. “When I used to come here to scout, or go to the Holiday Bowl which is always a good game to scout, I would stay at that hotel. I’d walk to the stadium and walk back because I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic.”
While Telesco gets to know the city, one area he looks forward to checking out is Little Italy.
“I just found out on the way over here that there is a Little Italy in the city,” he said enthusiastically. “I’m excited about that. I don’t care if there are only one or two places, I’m excited about that!”
Overall, Telesco is very engaging and captivating when he speaks, but more importantly seems like a truly genuine guy. It’s not hard to see why he's been tabbed as the Chargers next GM.