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With a keen eye for acquiring talented players, Tom Telesco serves his fifth season as General Manager of the Chargers in 2017.
Telesco has infused the Chargers’ roster with young players, building primarily through the draft. As the calendar turned to 2016, Telesco brought some of the NFL’s top veteran free agents to the Chargers. They included wide receiver and kick returner Travis Benjamin, nose tackle Brandon Mebane, safety Dwight Lowery and cornerback Casey Hayward. Telesco added even more star power to the roster in April with another heralded draft class headlined by two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Joey Bosa from Ohio State.
Hayward went on to earn his first Pro Bowl selection after leading the league in interceptions while Bosa garnered numerous accolades, including Defensive Rookie of the Year, after leading all NFL rookies with 10.5 sacks. 2015 Mackey Award winner Hunter Henry also put together a stellar rookie campaign by leading the Chargers in touchdowns with eight - tied for the most in the NFL by a tight end. With the selection of Melvin Gordon to the 2016 Pro Bowl, Telesco’s last three first round draft picks have either made the Pro Bowl or earned league honors.
In 2015, all five of the Chargers draft picks made the team’s opening-day roster and contributed throughout the season. First-round draft choice Melvin Gordon became the team’s leading rusher and second-round pick Denzel Perryman came within five tackles of the first 100-tackle season by a rookie in team history.
Telesco also uncovered several gems in rookie free agency, including Nick Dzubnar, who became the team’s leading special teams tackler, and Josh Lambo, who was the NFL’s top rookie kicker.
Telesco was hired by the Chargers in January 2013. Forty-years-old at the time of his hiring, he became the youngest general manager in team history. Immediately following his hire, Telesco was part of the search committee responsible for hiring Mike McCoy as the team’s head coach. Telesco then helped the Chargers return to the playoffs in 2013 with a roster that featured 25 players who joined the team prior to or during the season.
Telesco made several notable free agent acquisitions in 2013, including running back Danny Woodhead and tackle King Dunlap. His first draft with the Chargers yielded three prominent starters, including guard D.J. Fluker, linebacker Manti Te’o and wide receiver and 2013 Pepsi Next NFL Rookie of the Year Keenan Allen.
Telesco’s second draft class in 2014 was equally impressive. The team’s first four picks all made the opening-day roster and 2014 first-round pick Jason Verrett made his first Pro Bowl after leading the team in interceptions and passes defensed in 2015.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Telesco prepped at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, N.Y. Days prior to Super Bowl XLVIII in January 2014, which was co-hosted by New York and New Jersey, Telesco was recognized for their accomplishments on the floor of the New York State Senate by Senator Timothy Kennedy.
After graduating from St. Francis, Telesco played wide receiver at John Carroll University in Ohio. He was a starter on the Blue Streaks’ 1994 Ohio Athletic Conference Championship team, and two of his teammates at John Carroll were Chris and Brian Polian, sons of Bill Polian, a 2015 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While attending John Carroll, Telesco spent four summers (1991-94) as a training camp intern with the Buffalo Bills. At that time, the elder Polian was the Bills’ general manager. Polian left Buffalo for Carolina in 1994 and after Telesco graduated from John Carroll with a degree in business management in 1995, Polian hired him to work in the Panthers’ scouting department. In 1998, Telesco and Polian moved on to Indianapolis, where Telesco would spend his next 15 NFL seasons 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 later part of the team that brought Andrew Luck to the Colts with the first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. Telesco also was involved in Colts drafts that featured four-time Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James, five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne, and Dwight Freeney, a seven-time Pro Bowler as a Colt.
Telesco’s tenure in Indianapolis was one of the most successful eras in Colts history. They played in two Super Bowls, including a victory over Chicago in Super Bowl XLI. From 1998-2012, the Colts won 154 regular-season games, eight division titles and they appeared in the playoffs 12 times. Indianapolis set an NFL record with 12 or more wins in seven consecutive seasons and they won an NFL-record 23 straight regular-season games during the 2008-09 seasons. Their 115 regular-season wins from 2000-09 set an NFL record for wins in a decade.
In March 2015, Telesco was invited to be a speaker at the NFL’s Career Development Symposium in Arizona. The program, attended by nearly 70 coaches and front office executives, was designed to engage aspiring head coach and general manager candidates. Telesco was one of only two active general managers invited to address participants at the symposium.
Telesco and his wife, Larah, have a daughter, Elena, and two sons, Thomas and Nicholas.