Blog Entry

Bill Polian; best in the league

Posted on: March 5, 2008 8:55 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2008 4:31 pm

I really love football. I enjoy every aspect of the game itself, the ins and outs, the x's and o's....

My favorite player is Bob Sanders. I really love his style of gameplay. Its very exciting to watch him play the safety position, I think he is one of the best at that position ever.!

Which brought to mind one of the most positive things about the Indianapolis Colts Football team.

Since Jim Irsay took control of the team from his father, he has made HUGE strides in liberating the Colts from their losing ways, and bringing prestige back.

He started by firing Infante, and Hiring Bill Polian... One of his best moves still to this day. Bill Polian's evaluation skills are very good indeed. His ability to find good players in the draft is 2nd to NONE!

On December 22, 1997, Bill Polian was hired as President of the Indianapolis Colts. Polian opted not to keep several players from the previous roster, instead, he decided to build through the draft as the Colts would have the number 1 overall pick for 1998, and 2 of the most hyped quarterbacks would be coming out of college. As the '98 draft approached, much hype surrounded the first and second picks, as most people assumed they were going to be Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning. Then NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue made the announcement, "With the first overall pick of the 1998 draft, the Indianapolis Colts select quarterback, University of Tennessee, Peyton Manning". The San Diego Chargers would take Ryan Leaf second; Leaf's abbreviated career appears to have shown the wisdom of Polian's choice, along with the stellar career of Peyton Manning himself proving that Polian made the right decision.

Even though the Colts finished 3-13 under Polian's first year as president, there were obvious signs of improvement, the Colts would have the 4th overall pick in the draft, and again much hype would surround the draft as Ricky Williams was coming out. The Cleveland Browns would have the first pick, but with a short roster, they would opt for QB Tim Couch. The Philadelphia Eagles then selected QB Donovan McNabb, and the Cincinnati Bengals then took QB Akili Smith. Many Colt fans watching the draft live no doubt anticipated the selection next of the still-available Ricky Williams. But Polian shocked almost everyone by drafting Edgerrin James instead. We all know how that worked out... During Polian's second year as president, the Colts finished 13-3 winning the AFC East title. This finish is the biggest turnaround in NFL history, as the Colts were 3-13 the prior season.

Following the 2000 season, it became clear that the Colts needed to focus on defense as their offense was very productive. Polian opted instead to draft WR Reggie Wayne with their first pick in the '01 draft. Although this choice was infurating to some Colt fans at the time(most people felt the team needed more defense), Wayne has gone on to become one of the premier receivers in the league, complementing Marvin Harrison and eventually in my mind exceeding him as the best receiver on the team, if not in the league...

As the '02 draft approached it was clear the Colts desperately needed defense. Polian would draft Dwight Freeney amid much criticism that Freeney was too short to play defensive end. Freeney would go on to be selected to 3 consecutive Pro Bowls following the '03,'04, and '05 seasons.

The '03 draft produced 2 late round picks who would become impact players within the Colts defense. Fifth-round pick Robert Mathis has become one of the best pass rushing defensive ends in the AFC.

In the '04 draft, Polian selected strong safety Bob Sanders. Sanders probably would have been a higher pick in the draft, but he had suffered a foot injury which would require surgery and most other teams did not want that liability. However, Polian rolled the dice on how good Sanders would be once his foot healed. Sanders would only play in 5 games his rookie season, but his second (and first full) season would prove why Polian drafted him as Sanders would go on to the pro bowl, and on his way to becoming the best safety to ever play the game...!

Despite his knack for quality drafts, the key to the Colts success may also come from Polian's ability to sign undrafted rookie free agents who eventually become key contributors. Under Polian's watch, the Colts have signed undrafted or waived rookies such as Jeff Saturday, Raheem Brock, Gary Brackett, Ben Utecht, and Ryan Lilja.

Polian has rarely signed established free agents away from other teams through big money contracts, a notable exception was following the 2005 season, when he signed kicker Adam Vinatieri to a $12 million contract. The move made Vinatieri the NFL's highest paid kicker, and his clutch play was key in the Colts progression toward becoming Super Bowl XLI champions.

Following tackle Tarik Glenn's retirement, only one player remains from the pre-Polian era, wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

I would say that Player evaluation has really helped the Indianapolis Colts become big time contenders every year for the last 10 years, so when you see big name players on the market, and think your team needs to spend the cash to get them, just remember that big names don't always equal out to big wins.... which is why Indianapolis is ALWAYS so quiet in the free agency period of the off season, and that's just the way we like it!


Since: Aug 28, 2007
Posted on: March 6, 2008 11:59 am

Bill Polian; best in the league

The Colts have become my second favorite team (next to my hometown Browns) thanks largely in part to not only drafting quality players...but quality "poeple" as well. Guys like Manning, Sanders, Harrison, Saturday, etc. not only epitomize excellence and hard work to their craft, but prove to kids that watch football that you don't have to be a "show off" jack-a to be a quality player in this league. Polian's skill in recognizing skill as well as quality individuals is as good as there is in this league. They win...and they win with class.

Since: Nov 9, 2006
Posted on: March 6, 2008 8:18 am

Bill Polian; best in the league

There are other undrafted free agents Bill Polian took a chance on in Indianapolis, but I opted to just use the names still on our current roster, but

Dominic Rhodes, James Mungro, and Terrence Wilkins were also undrafted rookie free agents who made plays for Indy, and went on to other teams.

He also got Nick Harper, and Mike Vanderjact from the Canadian football league....   

I just think there are reasons we keep certain players, and let go some who seem to be productive are because Bill and Tony see things in the locker room, and off the field that help them decide which contracts to renew, and which players to let go.


I love football!!!!

Since: Nov 9, 2006
Posted on: March 6, 2008 8:08 am

Bill Polian; best in the league

Thanks alot True.!

I can't wait till the begining of the season, but this FA period, and the Draft make the offseason a bit more interesting.

With the addition of Tony Dungy (another advocate of the draft) Jim Irsay is really shaping up to be a much better owner than his father EVER was!! He seems to have a mind for the game, and doesn't mind putting his money where his mouth is. Unlike other owners, Irsay doesn't seem to be dazzled by big name FA's, instead, he opted to hire very intelligent men to run the recruiting for his team. He is only as involved as his general manager (Bill Polian) and his coach (Tony Dungy) need him to be, and that is ANOTHER asset for this team.!

Since: Jan 16, 2008
Posted on: March 6, 2008 6:04 am

Bill Polian; best in the league

A nice informative blog very useful and a nice read.

Polian was really very good and his skills will be more useful in the coming future.

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: March 5, 2008 9:16 pm

Bill Polian; best in the league

Nice Evaluation. Those are some sick names among those draft picks. I can't beleive Saturday wasn't even drafted!

Go Colts!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or