The Indianapolis Colts will induct Pro Football Hall of Famer and former President/Vice Chairman Bill Polian into the team’s Ring of Honor during halftime of the Colts Week 17 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, January 1, 2017.
Polian spent 14 of his 32 NFL seasons with the Colts from 1998-2011. During his time in Indianapolis the team won eight division championships, two conference championships and reached the Super Bowl twice. The franchise also won its fourth world championship with a victory against the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Polian was named The Sporting News Executive of the Year on six occasions, including two with the Colts (1999 and 2009). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 8, 2015.
“Bill was incredibly successful during his time with our franchise and proved to be a Hall of Famer,” said Colts Owner & CEO Jim Irsay. “He was one of the most innovative personalities to ever grace our sport, and his passion for the game was and still is unmatched. I will always be grateful to Bill for his contributions to the Colts, and to the NFL.”
During Polian’s tenure, Indianapolis advanced to the postseason 11 times during a 12-year span and posted 10 or more wins in each of those playoff years. From 2000-09, the Colts produced 115 regular season wins, the most in a decade by any NFL club. Under his direction, the Colts posted a 143-81 (.638) regular season record, which ranked as the second-best mark in the NFL during that span. The team won eight division titles with Polian at the helm.
Polian’s expertise was prevalent in the NFL Draft as he was responsible for picks such as Peyton Manning (1998), Edgerrin James (1999), Reggie Wayne (2001), Dwight Freeney (2002), Dallas Clark (2003), Robert Mathis (2003), Bob Sanders (2004), Joseph Addai (2006), Pierre Garcon (2008), Pat McAfee (2009) and Anthony Castonzo (2011). Polian also found key free agents in Jeff Saturday, Mike Vanderjagt, Gary Brackett and Adam Vinatieri.
In 24 seasons as a general manager or president with Indianapolis (1998-2010), Carolina (1995-97) and Buffalo (1985-1992), Polian’s teams made 17 playoff appearances, eight championship games and five Super Bowl appearances. In Buffalo, he led the Bills to three consecutive Super Bowl appearances from 1990-92.
Polian becomes the 13th member inducted to the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor and joins Robert Irsay (1996), Bill Brooks (1998), Ted Marchibroda (2000), Chris Hinton (2001), Jim Harbaugh (2005), Colts Nation (2007), Tony Dungy (2010), Marvin Harrison (2011), Edgerrin James (2012), Eric Dickerson (2013), Marshall Faulk (2013) and Jeff Saturday (2015).
Tags: Bill Polian, colts ring of honor
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ESPN.com is doing a series on the “Greatest Coaches in NFL History” as part of a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Vince Lombardi’s birthday.
A group of their best NFL people (one of whom, deservedly, is Bill Polian) comprises the voting panel, and checking in as the 20th-Greatest in their opinion is Tony Dungy.
First off, I am glad Tony is honored. Secondly, I wish he were rated higher. That is my brain and heart speaking.
Tony was my seventh head coach as a Colts publicist. The wonder of that number – seven – was in evidence every day around him.
Tony is one of the few people whose reality far exceeds the image. He does it daily, honestly and easily.
The quote Bum Phillips once made about Earl Campbell holds true for Tony, “I don’t know if he’s in a class by himself, but whatever class he’s in, it don’t take long to call the roll.”
Passed over multiple times in head coaching interviews, Dungy joined Tampa Bay in 1996 and led the Buccaneers to the playoffs four times, once to the NFC Championship game.
He was dismissed in 2001 after consecutive first-round playoff losses, and Jim Irsay hired Tony to be our head coach quickly after that.
Tony’s power and grace could be felt immediately as he entered the building. The smart suit and gold cross on the label were indicators of the man.
His first team address came in normal conversational tone, and he let the players know he never would speak at any higher volume. He never did.
Once when a fracas erupted on the practice field, Tony told players that while he could not prevent fighting in that venue that he did control who played in games. There were no more incidents.
Tony could convey more with less than anyone I’ve seen, and his ability to draw things from within was a special gift.
On more than one occasion, opposing players expressed their regard for him as a coach and person (NFL Films once captured Randy Moss, then with New England, doing so in a very genuine way).
People outside the club asked what it was like working with Tony, and the typical response was, “It’s better than can be explained, and we get to be around him every day.”
Football is a sport of numbers and people, but numbers at the time of his retirement revealed only a bit of his greatness:
- Overall record of 148-79 with a 65.2 winning percentage.
- 148 victories ranked 19th-best in NFL history.
- Had 66.8 regular-season winning percentage (139-69).
- Was 85-27 in regular season with Colts, 92-33 counting playoffs (the winningest Colts head coach).
- One of six head coaches to win 100+ regular-season games in first 10 years of career.
- Directed 11-of-13 teams into the playoffs, reaching three conference title games and one Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLI, where he became the first African-American winner).
- Only Colts head coach with 10+ wins and playoff appearances in each of first seven years.
- Had 10 career double-digit victory seasons and was first coach to defeat all 32 NFL teams.
- Earned 10 consecutive playoff appearances (1999-2001, Tampa Bay; 2002-08, Colts) to surpass Tom Landry (9) for the most by an NFL coach since 1970.
- Earned seven straight 10+-victory seasons (2002-08), tying then the second-longest NFL streak.
- From 2003-08, earned six straight seasons with 11-plus wins, tying the NFL mark, while setting the league standard for the most consecutive seasons with 12-plus victories.
- Only NFL coach to win at least seven consecutive games in five straight seasons (2004-08).
- Won five straight AFC South titles (2003-07).
After a particularly galling 27-point loss at Jacksonville in 2006 where the team allowed 375 rushing yards, Tony stood firmly (even proactively going on network television) to convey we had the players and scheme to win.
Seven games later, the Colts were World Champions and he was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Without Tony’s leadership, it would not have happened.
From the Chuck Noll influence (with perhaps more than a bit of Tom Moore), Dungy left a great coaching tree, two of whom on it having Colts connections – Jim Caldwell and Leslie Frazier.
There were so many private moments I had with Tony in seven (there’s that number again) years that will last a lifetime.
Maybe my favorite came after the 2007 season when we had a playoff loss at San Diego and there were rumors he would retire to go about his life’s work.
It was back in Indianapolis and he was heading out of the building to return home to meet with his family. In passing as he was about to reach the door, I stopped Tony to convey what I could in words about what he meant to me in case the next time I saw him would be in a non-working capacity.
He offered thanks and a hug. Then, conveying a message without a word – a wink. I knew he was coming back. We smiled and I told no one the secret.
The way Tony molded players and affected lives is something that spans far beyond any numbers he achieved. It is a gift that keeps on giving, for me and I bet many others.
I will make sure to see the coaches the ESPN panel picks ahead of Tony. I guarantee there will be no finer man. It won’t even be close.
As Ron Meyer would say, “Call off the dogs and (put) out the fire, that hunt is over.”
Tags: Bill Polian, Bum Phillips, Chuck Noll, Earl Campbell, indianapolis colts, Jim Caldwell, Jim Irsay, Leslie Frazier, Tom Landry, Tom Moore, Tony Dungy, Vince Lombardi
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COLTS NEWS (LOCAL AND NATIONAL)
Bob Kravitz: Poor combine performance doesn’t make Bjoern Werner a bad pick for Colts
Colts take Bjoern Werner with 24th pick in NFL Draft
2013 NFL Draft: 3 names for Indianapolis Colts’ fans to watch closing in on pick No. 24
2013 NFL Draft: 3 possible Indianapolis Colts picks
Colts QB regret easy to say now for Bill Polian
Three prospects to keep an eye on when Colts are on the clock at draft’s No. 24 spot
What Indianapolis Colts drafting Bjoern Werner means, German translation
Unpredictable draft gets started tonight
Colts add pass rusher in Werner at 24
Colts select pass rusher Werner in first round
Colts’ Top 5 possible defensive back picks
Can Colts’ pick turn into the next Freeney?
Indianapolis Colts could go several ways in NFL draft
Colts rave about Werner’s game speed
Colts take Bjoern Werner 24th overall
Florida State DE Bjoern Werner hopes he’s selected by NY Giants so he can team with Markus Kuhn
AFC SOUTH BLOG
All the AFC South’s scheduled picks
Non-immediate needs in AFC South
My QB draft strategy for the Jaguars
Caldwell gets OT first, as Smith did
Chris Johnson on Warmack: ‘Thank God’
Texans say Hopkins wears DBs out
Warmack won Titans in private workout
Plan falls into place as Texans pick WR Hopkins
Tennessee Titans select Alabama guard Chance Warmack in first round of NFL Draft
NFL Draft: Jaguars pick offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with No. 2 pick
Bell: How many NFL draftees will end up broke?
O-linemen are A-listers in 2013 NFL draft
Manti Te’o, Geno Smith passed over
2013 NFL Draft: Winners and losers, Day 1, a tale of two drafts
With GM seats burning, Bills and Dolphins go bold; more snaps
Tags: Bill Polian, Bjoern Werner, buffalo bills, chance warmack, chris johnson, daily clips, david caldwell, deandr hopkins, Dwight Freeney, Geno Smith, houston texans, indianapolis colts, jacksonville jaguars, Justin Pugh, kyle long, Luke Joeckel, Manti Te'o, markus kuhn, miami dolphins, new england patriots, new york giants, new york jets, NFL Draft, phil emery, tennessee titans
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COLTS NEWS (LOCAL AND NATIONAL)
Indianapolis Cols QB Andrew Luck’s goals for Year 2? Win a title, get better at everything
Colts former GM Bill Polian: ‘you’ve got to try and win every game’
Colts notes: LB Pat Angerer rebounding from second surgery on broken foot
Indianapolis Colts’ best draft picks: No. 4, DE Dwight Freeney
Colts offseason conditioning: what’s new after getting reacquainted in locker room
Sizing up the Colts’ pre-NFL draft roster: linebackers
Colts Notebook: Vinatieri expects warm welcome for Manning
Indianapolis Colts cheerleader: Most amazing feeling in the world
Colts’ new-look offense defies definition
Ertz, Eifert top NFL prospects at tight end
Antioch’s Quinton Patton races toward NFL
Jaguars Notebook: Blaine Gabbert not worried about possibility of drafting QB
Clay Matthews signs extension
Peyton Manning wants faster offense
No perfect time
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Andrew Luck, Bill Polian, blaine gabbert, chicago bears, clay matthews, Colin Kaepernick, colts cheerleaders, daily clips, Dwight Freeney, ej manuel, indianapolis colts, jacksonville jaguars, john idzik, justin tuck, marc trestman, new york giants, new york jets, NFL Draft, pat angerer, Peyton Manning, quinton patton, ron jaworski, tennessee titans, tim tebow, Tyler Eifert, victor cruz, zach ertz
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I saw with a bit of interest that Bob Knight has a new book that will be released soon. The title refers to the “Power of Negative Thinking” being an approach to achieve positive results.
Coach Knight always has been an intriguing individual with a persona that extends far past Indiana.
Seeing excerpts today made me think back about 13 years ago when Bill Polian and Jim Mora invited him to speak to the team one day after spring practice concluded.
This was right after the news of the Neil Reed incident became public, so I whisked Knight in while reporters had their heads turned, and I held him from sight until the media had departed practice.
We sometimes announced when we would have a guest at practice, but we did not do so in this instance. Keeping things under wraps can help maintain the appropriate practice atmosphere, plus it can allow a visitor to engage with our people without distractions.
I had met Coach Knight previously, but not to the extent he could have remembered. Having a few moments with him was fun.
Being an alum of LSU, we talked about two significant wins he had over the Tigers in tournament play, one in 1981 in the Final Four and another in the regionals in 1987 in Cincinnati.
When it was time to get him onto the field, I figured I would stand close enough to the action so I could hear his comments. Why not?
Polian greeted Knight warmly and Jim did, too, when practice was over. We had a team with young veterans at this point, so a talk from a coaching legend could be interesting.
I was wrong. It was fantastic.
Jim introduced Knight to the players and almost on cue, they took a knee. That in itself was interesting since that only occurs in Hollywood, not after a normal practice.
He spoke about 15 minutes. Knight’s voice was the only sound, and he told the team that spring was the time of year when champions are forged. They are not formed as late as training camp and certainly not during the season.
Like Ali, he harped on the real work being done away from the bright lights. He talked about fundamentals, work ethic and integrity. You could imagine his very first Indiana team had heard this message, along with all those that followed.
His best remark was the mental approach a player had to take in being successful. Knight said, “Mental is to physical as four is to one.”
Again, I am sure he had used that line on countless occasions, but it was timeless. It seemed very original in our setting.
When Knight ended, players and coaches alike introduced themselves and thanked him for his time and comments.
He was around us for maybe 90 minutes, but those were impactful moments.
I don’t know that I will get the book, but I always find Coach Knight an interesting person. I’m not sure many Colts fans knew he met with the team, and his words in the early 2000s certainly did not impede our play on the field.
Tags: Bill Polian, Bob Knight, Jim Mora
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Today is President’s Day, causing me to remember a special occasion for the Indianapolis Colts.
After winning Super Bowl XLI in 2007, the team was invited to the traditional White House visit made by championship teams.
There, the team would be hosted by President George W. Bush.
The date was April 23 and if President Bush ever had a slow day, this may have been one of them. One week earlier, his day had been marred by the terrible shootings at Virginia Tech.
It was a beautiful day in the nation’s capital and after visiting soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, our entourage hit the White House about 1:00 p.m.
The players, coaches and staff toured the White House prior to the ceremony on the South Lawn.
It was a great time seeing the White House in a way many people never will have the chance to see it. It was fun watching the reaction of our guys. None acted like a caddy at Bushwood.
Joseph Addai chided Peyton Manning that he had been there before. Addai had been part of the LSU football contingent that visited after winning the 2003 national championship. Manning kept asking Joe to knock it off since it was his first time visiting on such an occasion. I think Joe enjoyed applying the needle.
The team assembled on the South Lawn and waited for President Bush to arrive for the ceremony. We were prepared for his arrival and waited to present him with a jersey and a specially-made wooden Stetson.
As many presidents are, Mr. Bush was pleasant, witty and a warm host. When the ceremony was done, I was to take Tony Dungy to do an on-line chat as well as a group of players to meet the media outside the West Wing. The rest of the travel party was to go back to our buses.
This is when a special day became even more so.
The group going to meet the media included Dungy, Bill Polian, Peyton Manning, Gary Brackett, Adam Vinatieri, Dwight Freeney and Jeff Saturday. (That Bill chose to meet the media was amusing to me.)
After taking a few moments to assemble the bunch, we were moving past the Rose Garden and were ready to enter a door when someone to our left whistled like a coach and shouted, “Hey, where are you boys going?”
Stopping, we saw President Bush standing with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and he was holding a door open.
He motioned for us to join him, and we passed through the door and into the Oval Office.
Having home turf advantage to the extreme, President Bush spent 25 minutes telling us stories about the room and moments related to him and other presidents.
He talked about the artwork, how each president chooses the color scheme, and he spent time explaining decorations that adorned his office.
He spoke about his desk which went back through many presidencies.
At one point, I glanced at my watch. It was 3:45 p.m. I wondered what I would be doing the next day at this very time since where I was standing at the moment likely was going to be a bit more special.
A White House photographer captured the action, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush joined the group.
To this day, I can recall President Bush’s comments almost word-for-word. It was that compelling.
President Bush shook our hands as the occasion adjourned. It was off to the on-line chat and the assembled reporters. Five buses of people had to wonder where we were.
President Bush was not the first to host a sports team. He is not the last as well, and it is a special moment when the leader of the free world can make time for small ceremonies.
Thank you again, sir, and here’s hoping the Colts get that moment again. If so, we can take Joe Addai. He knows the layout quite well.
By the way, on Tuesday, April 24 at 3:45 p.m., I was in my office. I volunteered to write a free agent biography for our media guide. I waited until that very time to do it, so I could be truthful whenever I relayed the anecdote. I specifically chose Craphonso Thorpe, a nice kid (who made the team) but one whose first name I thought added to the story.
Happy President’s Day.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Bill Polian, Dwight Freeney, Gary Brackett, indianapolis colts, Jeff Saturday, Joseph Addai, Peyton Manning, President George W. Bush, Tony Dungy
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Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was only apart of the Colts coaching staff for two seasons but his impact couldn’t be measured in solely the amount of time he was in Indianapolis.
Frazier joined the Colts staff in 2005 as defensive backs coach and also held the title as a special assistant to head coach Tony Dungy.
The improvements the Colts secondary saw in just one year under Frazier was immense. In 2005, the Colts were ranked No. 15 in pass defense around the league. That number improved all the way to No. 2 the following season as the Colts captured Super Bowl XLI.
“Those were great times,” Frazier said. “I have so many good memories from my time there in Indianapolis. We were rolling pretty good there and to come away with a Super Bowl ring I will never forget that time with Tony, the rest of the staff, the players.”
Frazier’s relationship with Dungy is something that is still strong today and he credits him for helping him become a head coach in the NFL.
In 2007, Frazier joined the Vikings staff as defensive coordinator before becoming Minnesota’s permanent head coach following the 2010 season.
“Tony is a great friend,” Frazier said. “I learned so much from he and the rest of the staff during that time. A lot of these things I learned there in Indianapolis I’ve tried to institute here in Minnesota. That time was very, very important in my development as a coach.”
Only three players remain on the Colts defense from Frazier’s time in Indianapolis.
Outside linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were in the middle of their onslaught against opposing quarterbacks recording a combined 37.5 sacks over the two years Frazier coached with the Colts.
With Freeney’s status for Sunday’s game with the Vikings up in the air, Frazier knows first hand what having him on the field means for the Colts defense.
“Dwight is one of those game wreckers,” Frazier said. “He has been for a long, long time. I witnessed him just destroying offenses’ game plans and people just changing their game plans because of Dwight, much like they do here with Jared (Allen).”
“So to do not have Dwight on the field, it would definitely change how offenses approach you and it would change how we would approach the Colts if he didn’t play.”
Mathis was just beginning his third NFL season when Frazier joined the Colts.
The 2006 season was Mathis first as a full-time starter and his first Pro Bowl didn’t come until 2008. It’s that recognition that Frazier believes is something Mathis has never fully received.
“He’s a tremendous talent,” Frazier said of Mathis. “He’s a guy who is sometimes in the shadow of Dwight but opposing teams know they have to have a plan for Robert and they’ve known for a number of year.”
“I admired his talents when I was there. He’s not a guy who looks and seeks the headlines but opposing teams know you better have a plan for Robert Mathis when you line up and play the Colts.”
Following the Colts Super Bowl XLI win, Frazier sat down with Dungy and made a decision that would influence the rest of his coaching career.
A chance to become a coordinator in the NFL would seem like a logical choice for someone in Frazier’s position, but the decision to leave so many friends behind didn’t make the process any easier.
“It was really hard to leave,” Frazier said. “(Former general manager) Bill Polian, the whole organization, Mr. Irsay, everyone was so good to me during the time I was there from top to bottom. They treated me like I was apart of the family and I’ll never forget it and I’ll always be thankful.”
Tags: Bill Polian, Dwight Freeney, Jim Irsay, Leslie Frazier, robert mathis, Tony Dungy
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