Plenty of reasons have been circulating for the Polianoscopy in Indianapolis. Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star agreed Tuesday with the notion that Bill Polian’s use of the Colts’ football operations as the basis for boosting his son’s career, coupled with periodic fits of public rage, ultimately undid the father-son duo.
Not surprisingly, Polian has a different view. He tells the Associated Press that he was fired for not having a better backup plan behind Peyton Manning.
From a linear perspective, Polian probably is right. If he had a better Plan B for Peyton’s season-long absence, the Colts may have been more competitive in a wide-open AFC South. Based on reports that the Colts considered signing Matt Hasselbeck, and in light of what Hasselbeck accomplished in Tennessee, perhaps a decision to acquire Hasselbeck would have allowed the Colts to win a few more than two games. If the Colts had won nine (like the Titans did), maybe the Polians would have stayed put.
The real reasons likely extend far deeper than the superficial line between wins and losses and pink slips. But for the blatant nepotism and persistent belligerence, owner Jim Irsay may have decided that one very bad season could be tolerated, especially since Manning’s new contract and the past contracts given to the other star players on the team left precious little cap space to lure someone like Hasselbeck to town. Polian’s style and his interpersonal flaws operated over time like a bear trap lurking on the wrong side of a 7-9 record. The fact that the season ended poorly enough to give the Colts the first pick in the draft likely contributed to Irsay’s intuitive sense that the time was right to make a significant change.
Bill Polian also said the timing of the move was surprising, and that he was more upset about his son, Chris, losing his job. That’s understandable, but it’s one of the perils of nepotism. When a father gives his son a ride on his coattails, a failure by the father will claim the careers of both men.
The question now becomes whether anyone will give Chris Polian an opportunity on his own, or whether the Polians will remain a package deal. Despite Bill Polian’s Hall of Fame track record, it would be wise for any owner interested in Bill to take the position that the time has come for Chris to make his own way.