Bill Polian: Joining Colts’ Ring of Honor a ‘tremendous honor’

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Bill Polian

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Another pelt is being added to Bill Polian’s wall.

First, there was inclusion in the Buffalo Bills’ Wall of Fame in 2012.

Next, enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio as part of the Class of 2015.

Finally, a position in the Indianapolis Colts’ Ring of Honor. Polian is the 13th member, and his name will be added at Lucas Oil Stadium Jan. 1 when the Colts entertain the Jacksonville Jaguars in the final game of the regular season.

“It doesn’t get old hat, trust me,’’ Polian said. “This is a tremendous honor. It was such a great ride to be a part of what we did in Indianapolis when you stop and think about it.’’

The team’s long-time front-office executive fondly clicked off the accomplishments during his 14 years of service (1998-2011).

“All the playoffs,’’ Polian said. “Lucas Oil Stadium, the world championship. All of that was incredible and it was an honor to be part of it.

“It’s even a bigger honor to be remembered as part of it. It’s wonderful to be remembered. It’s most important for the family and the kids and grandkids to be part of that and see it and understand what a great time it was.’’

Owner Jim Irsay made the announcement Monday, and described Polian as “one of the most innovative personalities ever to 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.’’

Under Polian’s direction, the Colts won eight division championships and two conference championships that propelled them to a pair of Super Bowls. They captured the franchise’s first world title in three decades with a 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI after the 2006 season and dropped a 31-17 decision to New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV after the ’09 season.

From 2000-09, the Colts won 115 regular-season games, the most by any team in any decade in NFL history.

In Polian’s eyes, during one eight-year stretch (2003-10), “we might have been the best team in football five of those eight years.’’

There were incredible highs: winning the ’06 AFC Championship game in the RCA Dome at the expense of the New England Patriots 38-34, then hoisting the Lombardi Trophy into the rainy night sky Feb. 4, 2007 in South Florida.

And there were maddening lows: losing to the Patriots in consecutive postseasons (2003-04), and falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the ’05 postseason when the team still was emotionally wrestling with the death of Tony Dungy’s son, James.

It will be interesting to gauge the reaction of the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd when Polian is introduced at halftime of the Jaguars game. A portion still might hold a grudge from the team’s decision not to chase perfection in ’09. It opened the season 14-0 before easing up in week 16 while leading the New York Jets.

Through it all, Polian insisted he doesn’t waste time second-guessing himself.

“Wondering ‘What if?’ doesn’t do any good,’’ he said. “It’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Regretting? There’s nothing you can do. You can’t change the past.

“I don’t look back. I can recount stories and issues and situations where you had a choice to make and most of the time we made the right choice. Sometimes we made the wrong choice. Sometimes life just got in the way. That’s what football’s all about. That’s what life’s all about.

“I have selective memory. I look back on it and think about the good times, and they far out-weigh the bad.’’

Polian joins a exclusive club that includes Robert Irsay, Bill Brooks, Ted Marchibroda, Chris Hinton, Jim Harbaugh, Colts Nation, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk and Jeff Saturday.

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