Bill Polian

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Bill Polian
refer to caption
Polian (second from right) with Tony Dungy in 2007.
Position: Executive
Personal information
Date of birth: (1942-12-08) December 8, 1942 (age 74)
Career information
High school: Bronx (NY) Mount Saint Michael
College: NYU
Career history
As executive:
Career highlights and awards

William Patrick "Bill" Polian, Jr. (born December 8, 1942) is an NFL analyst for ESPN and former American football executive. He was the Vice Chairman of the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League from 1998 to 2011. He rose to league prominence as the General Manager of the Buffalo Bills, building a team that participated in four straight Super Bowls—the most consecutive appearances by any team—but lost each time. Following his stint in Buffalo, Polian went on to become the General Manager of the expansion Carolina Panthers.

Early life and career[edit]

Polian grew up in the Fordham section of the Bronx in New York City and graduated from Mount Saint Michael Academy in 1960. He attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy and graduated from New York University in 1964 with a history degree.[1] At NYU, Polian played at safety for the NYU Violets football team.[2] He lived in Cornwall, NY from 1977 to 1983.

Prior to Polian's tenure in Buffalo, he began his career in professional football with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Blitz of the United States Football League, before moving to the Canadian Football League, where he assembled Grey Cup winning teams with the Montreal Alouettes and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.[3] Early on in his career, he was a coach for the now defunct football teams at Manhattan College and the Trinity School, both in New York City.

Buffalo Bills[edit]

Polian was General Manager in Buffalo from 1986 to 1992.[3] When Bill Polian was promoted to general manager of the Buffalo Bills on December 30, 1985, the Bills were suffering from back to back 2–14 seasons and fan interest was at an all-time low. Polian was originally hired as director of pro personnel for the Bills on August 2, 1984. Polian was instrumental in the signing of Bruce Smith to his first NFL contract, after which he was promoted to GM in 1985.[4] Polian won the NFL Executive of the Year Award twice in 1988 and in 1991.[5] After the 1992 season, on February 4, 1993, after the Bills had appeared in, and lost, their 3rd straight Super Bowl, Polian was fired as general manager.[6][7]

In 2012, Polian became the 28th inductee into the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame.

Carolina Panthers[edit]

Polian was General Manager of the Panthers from 1995 to 1997.[8] He tried to create the quickest Super Bowl winner in history, and nearly did so, building a team that went to the NFC Championship Game in only its second year of existence. This feat led him to a promotion, becoming not just the GM, but the President of the Indianapolis Colts.

Indianapolis Colts[edit]

In 1998, Polian was hired as President and decided to build through the draft as the Colts would have the number 1 overall pick for 1998; the Colts picked Peyton Manning. In 2006, According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, Polian reportedly assaulted a New York Jets employee by pinning him against a wall, for placing speakers too close to the field during warmups. The issue was brought to the NFL league offices, but no further action was taken. [9]

Polian was fired by owner Jim Irsay after the Colts finished with a 2–14 record in the 2011 season.[10]

On January 1, 2017, Polian will become the 13th inductee into the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor. [11]


In 2012, Polian was hired by ESPN to be commentator and an NFL analyst.[12]

Hall of Fame[edit]

On January 31, 2015 it was announced that Polian had been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ "Bill Polian". Indiana Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ Vecsey, George (December 14, 1990). "Bronx Man Comes Home, Sort Of". New York Times. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Bill Polian". Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Gaughan, Mark (February 5, 1993). "Polian firing shocks players". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved May 12, 2016. 
  7. ^ Carucci, Vic (February 7, 1993). "Wilson confirms 'friction' led to Polian firing". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved May 12, 2016. 
  8. ^[permanent dead link]
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Source: Polians out with Colts". January 2, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  11. ^
  12. ^