There are two ways to look at Bill and Chris Polian as we learn that Jim Irsay is parting ways with the Colts' vice chairman and general manager.
They suffered for one terrible season that was largely about the absence of one player, their Hall of Fame quarterback.
The stitching was coming apart on their team and it was time to make a change.
Irsay apparently lines up more with the latter thinking than the former, and will now restart his franchise with a new management team and the No. 1 draft pick. Coach Jim Caldwell’s fate remains undetermined, but it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be part of such a large sweep.
Bill Polian is a fine football architect. He’s a smart man, who knows he’s a smart man and who tends to talk down to people he doesn’t respect or doesn't believe are as smart. Those qualities could make him somewhat of a tyrant -- especially to some branches of the media, but not to them exclusively -- which is hardly the worst thing you can say about a football executive.
Still, as the season frayed, Polian flailed in defending some moves rather than admitting errors. If a couple of decent showings by Curtis Painter vindicated the franchise’s belief in him, then why exactly did said franchise run out to sign Kerry Collins? Couldn't he find someone more deserving of arrows on his weekly radio show than high-quality punter Pat McAfee?
There were more rifts in the franchise and less unity. A bigger split between the front office and the coaches. An incredibly awkward, low-power spot for Caldwell with regard to speaking for the team. The Polians' circle was a smaller and smaller one.
All that combined to give the organization a little bit of Al Davis Raiders flavor -- super secrecy, odd decisions and revelations, insistence on the rationale being used being unquestionable. Maybe you could make the case for borderline dysfunction once you added the nepotism issue.
Watching Bill Polian throw post-practice passes to a grandson was as good a snapshot memory as I have of training camp 2011. I don’t know Chris Polian well. He seemed like a fine guy when I spent time with him at training camp. But the younger Polian brings questions about just how equipped he is to run a franchise beyond having been brought up under a father who was very good at it.
If Bill Polian decides to retire, what sort of job will Chris Polian land? Some have told me he'd be a candidate to be a scout, not a GM.
I suspect his next post won’t be especially high-ranking, unless Bill Polian is tied in at least as a consultant.
So here is the end. It was an impressive era. While some fans might be relieved, it should qualify as a sad day.
Beyond Jerome Bettis and Tony Dungy, beyond Ernie Accorsi and Ron Wolf, not a lot of people in the league go out on their terms.
Jeff Fisher’s long stint as coach in Tennessee came to an awkward ending last year. It had just run its course and both sides decided a divorce was in order.
This would appear more one-sided -- but it feels the same in a lot of ways. It's been judged to be time for a fresh start. With a decision on Peyton Manning and the first pick and a bunch of aging veterans ahead, it might be the right time for it.
The Colts have a news conference scheduled for 5 p.m. ET. We’ll find out more then.