The Legacy of Bill Polian

When Bill Polian was fired on Monday, the common reaction of Colts fans was that of surprise, but also a sense that it needed to happen.  

Since then, we have heard all the stories of how Polian had the whole organization working in fear.  That is true, and his well documented treatement of the media was mentioned often this week.  But we also heard some great things about Bill as a football guy.  Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star has been bashing Polian all season, but understood all Polian has done for the Colts“Only a complete idiot would conclude anything other than that Polian did an amazing job in Indianapolis.” Kravitz wrote. 

There is no doubt in my mind that Bill Polian deserves to be in the hall of fame.  Many people agree.  He went to 6 super bowls as a general manager, winning 1.  He built the Colts into a perennial super bowl contender, winning 12 or more games in 7 straight years and made the playoffs in 9 straight.  The Colts won 141 games, made 11 playoff appearances, 6 division titles, 2 AFC Championship titles and 1 super bowl title in Polian’s time inIndianapolis.  Polian also has the most Executive of the Year awards of any person in NFL history, with 6 (1988, 91, 95, 96, 99, 09). 

Polian was known for his drafting, but ironically, that was the main issue that got him fired in the minds of many fans.  He drafted hall of famers Thurman Thomas and Peyton Manning.  There are several players on the current Colts that have a shot at the hall whom Polian drafted.  Polian convinced hall of fame QB Jim Kelly to come play for him inBuffalo.  Polian hired hall of fame coach Marv Levy inBuffalo, and Tony Dungy in Indy (who has a shot at the hall of fame).

“I’m grateful for all the support the fans have shown us in good times and bad. Indianapolishas been a wonderful place to live and work. Most of all, I would like to thank the players coaches and staff who have played the pivotal role in this magnificent journey. I will miss them all.” Said Polian.

Peyton Manning said of Polian: “I used to think nobody hated losing more than I did or was more miserable after a loss. I decided it was a tie between me and Bill.  And I stay in the building pretty late and he was always here working, too. Personally, my goodness, so many thoughts. He was one of the last guys to leave my wedding with Ashley (his wife). This is very, very tough.”

And so, while this decision had to be made, I will forever be grateful that Jim Irsay hired the greatest executive in NFL history to build the Colts into winners.  

Mission accomplished.  

And while the Polian era officially ended Monday, his legacy will live on for years.


About Josh Wilson
Follow Josh on twitter @jwilsonWL, on Facebook at the Operation: Freedom page, or you can reach him by email at

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