The Hall of Fame architect of the most successful Indianapolis Colts era in franchise history will be added to the Ring of Honor when former president/vice chairman Bill Polian is inducted on Jan. 1, the team announced Monday.
Polian, enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame last August, will be honored during halftime of the Colts’ regular-season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium.
He arrived in Indianapolis in 1998, then selected quarterback Peyton Manning with the No. 1 overall pick. That was a good start. In 14 seasons with the Colts, Polian’s teams won eight division championships, two conference championships, reached the Super Bowl twice and won the franchise’s fourth world championship in Super Bowl XLI.
Indianapolis advanced to the postseason 11 times in a 12-year span and posted 10 or more wins in each of those playoff years. From 2000 to 2009, the Colts produced 115 regular season wins, most in a decade by any NFL club. A 143-81 (.638) regular-season record ranked as the second-best mark in the NFL during that span.
Polian, 73, was named The Sporting News Executive of the Year a record six times, including twice with the Colts in 1999 and 2009.
“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.”
Polian’s expertise was prevalent in the NFL Draft with such selections as Manning (1998), running back Edgerrin James (1999), wide receiver Reggie Wayne (2001), defensive end Dwight Freeney (2002), tight end Dallas Clark (2003), defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Mathis (2003), and safety Bob Sanders (2004). Polian also found key free agents in center Jeff Saturday, kicker Mike Vanderjagt, linebacker Gary Brackett and kicker 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).
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.