Bill Polian

Bill Polian

Hall of Fame Team Executive

Bill Polian is a former NFL executive and a six-time Executive of the Year (1988, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1999, and 2009). Polian won Super Bowl XLI with the Colts, and was inducted into the Indianapolis Ring of Honor in 2017. Polian’s illustrious career as an executive earned him an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Polian began his career in professional football as a scout for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1978. In 1982, he joined the USFL, and later moved to the CFL, where he built Grey Cupwinning teams in Montreal and Winnipeg.

Polian returned to the NFL as the General Manager for the Buffalo Bills from 1986-1992. He built a team in Buffalo that went to four straight Super Bowls—the most consecutive appearances by any team in NFL history. 

He then took on the challenge of building an expansion team as the General Manager of the Carolina Panthers from 1995-1997. He remarkably put together a team that went to the NFC Championship game in just its second season of existence. 

In 1998, Polian was hired as the President and General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts. One of his earliest decisions was whether to draft Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf with the first overall draft pick in 1998. He wisely chose Manning, and later hired one of the all-time great coaches in Tony Dungy. Polian’s Colts had seven straight 12-win seasons and eight division titles during his tenure. The Colts beat the Chicago Bears and lost to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowls while Polian was running the organization.

Polian also served on several key NFL committees, including the group that oversees rules changes. Since his retirement, Polian worked as an NFL analyst for ESPN and currently is with SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Polian grew up in the New York City borough of the Bronx. He attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy before he graduated from NYU in 1964.

Polian and his wife have four children and nine grandchildren.

Super Bowl

Pulling Back the Curtain: How Teams Plan, Execute Super Bowl Trip

On Monday morning, fans of the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles were deliriously happy, and two groups of players, coaches and support staff were getting ready to make the road trip of their lives to the top of the football world. How the front offices of those teams organize the trip and aid the […]

Analysis

Playoffs Show Advancing Teams Have Quarterbacks with Elite Numbers

President Harry Truman is credited with saying, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” This is not entirely true, but it is the case that a talented mathematician can manipulate statistics to prove any point. I’m not a talented mathematician, but I have learned that if you take a hard look at year-end NFL statistics, […]

Analysis

Inside Comprehensive NFL Head Coach Selection Process

Last week, we covered the process by which clubs identify candidates for head-coaching positions. This week, we will outline the way an actual interview might be conducted for each candidate. The short answer is, “Any way the owner wants it done.” In my experience, however, he or she usually will leave the spade work to […]

Analysis

How NFL Franchises Identify, Vet and Hire Coaching Candidates

Unfortunately, it’s the time of year when NFL teams make coaching changes. Denver, Indianapolis, and Carolina fired their coaches midseason. Houston fired Lovie Smith on Sunday night, and Arizona fired Kliff Kingsbury on Monday afternoon.  Additionally, Tennessee and Arizona have general manager spots open. The average yearly number of teams in the coaching market is […]

Analysis

Credit Quick-Acting First Responders for Saving Damar Hamlin’s Life

After spending a lifetime in the game — 45 years in pro football — you become, if not immured to injury, at least accepting of it as an occupational hazard. Having been on practice and game fields for more than a half-century and having suffered injuries myself at the lowest level of college football, I […]

Analysis

How Teams, Officials Failed to Be ‘Critically Efficient’ in NFL Week 15

During our time in Indianapolis, Tony Dungy would often speak to our team about the difference in the NFL between perception and reality. He would use video snippets of broadcasters extolling our opponents as “unbeatable” and “the greatest of all time.” Dungy then would put on a reel of tape showing that same player and […]

Analysis

2022 NFC Playoff Picture: Who’s Contending, Who’s Pretending?

Last week, we took a statistical look at the AFC playoff contenders and what the numbers tell us about each team’s viability. This week, we’ll do the same with the NFC contenders. I will utilize the same metrics I learned in the 1970s while working for the Kansas City Chiefs under coach Marv Levy, who […]

Analysis

2022 AFC Playoff Picture: Who’s Contending, Who’s Pretending?

Since every team in the AFC has played 12 games, it’s time to take a statistical look at the playoff contenders and what the numbers tell us about each team’s viability. First, a little background. I broke into the NFL in the 1970s, under coach Marv Levy, with the Kansas City Chiefs. Levy brought on […]

Analysis

Thursday Dilemma: Limited Prep, Recovery Can Compromise Competitiveness

There are two ways to look at Thursday games in the NFL. On the positive side, you have the rich tradition of those played on Thanksgiving. This year’s triple-header brought plenty of excitement and competitiveness. As usual, it also attracted an overwhelming number of eyeballs. Short of the Super Bowl and playoffs, Thanksgiving Day delivers […]

Analysis

NFL Replay Rules Remain Problem For Officials

In the past two weeks, the NFL’s instant replay system managed to draw some unwanted attention. It started a week ago when Bill Belichick made some statements to the media on the subject. He was referring specifically to a play in the Buffalo-Minnesota game where, inside the last two minutes of regulation, Bills receiver Gabe […]

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