Former Colts general manager Bill Polian selected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts went 1-for-3 on former members of the organization being selected for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 on Saturday night.

Former general manager Bill Polian was selected as a contributor.

“I am thrilled with Bill Polian's well-deserved induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a statement. “Bill's career has been remarkable, and he has had an incredible impact on our league. My relationship with Bill goes back to when we were both general managers and worked together and with others to create the league’s salary cap. Aside from being a great executive, Bill had the innate ability to evaluate and look at a player and identify greatness. To me, that was his greatest talent and what set him apart from everyone else. Bill's dedication to the NFL and to the Colts will always be remembered. I am proud to call him a Colt and congratulate him on this great achievement.”

Former Colts coach Tony Dungy and receiver Marvin Harrison, both in their second year of eligibility, did not make the cut.

The exceptional moves Polian made during his 14 years with the Indianapolis Colts were countless, including drafting running back Edgerrin James, receiver Reggie Wayne, defensive end Dwight Freeney, tight end Dallas Clark, linebacker Robert Mathis and safety Bob Sanders and hiring Dungy as coach.

Polian was even confident when it came to drafting punters. He told Pat McAfee after they selected him in the seventh round in 2009, "The last punter we drafted was 10 years ago. We're excited to watch you the next 10 [years]." The Colts selected Hunter Smith in the seventh round in 1999.

McAfee has become one of the premier punters in the league after going from doing the running punt at West Virginia to the standard two-step punt in the NFL.

"[Polian] left no stone unturned," McAfee said. "I was told by a scout he found I could punt by watching me in warm-ups at the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He told me [on the two-step punt], 'I have faith you'll be able to become great at it.' "

But the move that turned the corner for the Colts was Polian's decision to select quarterback Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf with the No. 1 overall pick in 1998.

The Colts went to the playoffs 11 out of 14 years, won eight division titles and made two Super Bowl appearances -- with a win in 2006 over the Bears -- with Polian as general manager.

Polian also directed the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers before coming to Indianapolis. The Bills went to the Super Bowl three consecutive years (1990-92) and the expansion Panthers reached the NFC Championship Game in 1996.