Remember when we wrote yesterday that, if I'm a player's union rep, I'm thinking Polian's claim that the debate is over regarding the NFL expanding to an 18-game regular season format could be yet another instance of the Colts president blabbing his mouth about something he clearly isn't qualified to discuss? Well, turns out Bill's statement was indeed another instance of our beloved president saying something in public which he should not have said.
Today, Colts president Bill Polian backtracked BIG TIME on his statements issued Monday during his radio show. Anthony Schoettle at the IBJ has the details:
Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian on Wednesday morning backtracked on his statement that the decision to expand the NFL regular season from 16 to 18 games is a done deal.
"I created a headline that was 180 degrees from what was right," Polian told ESPN Radio. "Bad job by me in answering the question."
Polian explained that the issue must be discussed further among NFL executives and owners, and then it must be voted on by owners. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier this week that expanding to 18 games does not need to be approved by the players’ union.
A few things here. One, it seems pretty clear that, after NFLPA president Kevin Mawae came out and questioned why Polian said what he said, someone in the league office contacted Big Bill and gave him a little talking to. That talk was probably along the lines of, 'WTF are you thinking saying something like that on a radio show? Are you insane!'
Second, I applaud Bill for 'clarifying' his statements, today. Of course, this clarification is not without a sense of irony. As many of you know, Bill enjoys taking shots at journalists and media people who make seemingly false or incorrect statements regarding NFL-related issues. Maybe now, since Bill himself has publicly admitted making incorrect or false statements regarding NFL-related issues, he won't be so quick to act like a jerk to others when others make similar 'mistakes' in the future.
Finally, I don't think the fault was in Bill answering the question, as he seems to indicate in the IBJ article. Answering the question is fine. In fact, it's encouraged. But, as we have documented at length here, Bill Polian has an annoying tendency to state his own opinion as fact, or (in my opinion, more accurately) air out his personal frustrations through the media, which, when his own players partake in this, he very much frowns upon.
Of course, I'm accused of 'stating my opinion as fact' this all the time. The only difference is, I'm a blogger and Bill Polian is the president of a billion dollar football team.
It seems pretty clear to me that Polian is not happy with all this 18-game regular season talk. We know Peyton Manning certainly isn't excited about it. It also seems clear that, from his statement Monday night, that the owners have indeed made up their mind. I don't believe for one second that Bill Polian was telling us a 'lie' Monday night. Polian's a smart guy. He likely said what he said for a reason.
What the owners likely chewed Bill out for yesterday was publicly stating their intentions on his radio show. The owners know the players are going to fight this stupid two game expansion, and for good reason. Why should players take less money, but be required to play more games? This is a fight that is going to get bitter, and the owners are probably mad at Polian because he has now put them in a bad position.
Maybe Polian intentionally answered the question as a present to the players. Part of me kind of hopes he did. Mike Florio seems to suggest this might have been his reasoning:
But good job by Polian, if his goal was to spark a belated debate on whether the league should move from 16 to 18 games. He lamented the fact that a debate hadn't occurred, and it now appears that the debate has commenced.
Setting aside any personality traits that some may regard as displeasing, the fact remains that Polian didn't build three stellar NFL programs by being stupid.
However, for a guy who hates distractions, Polian cannot help being THE biggest distraction the Colts organization currently has.
Right now, Polian is our Chad Ochocinco.
Whether it's making ignorant statements about the offensive line following the Super Bowl, needlessly lashing out at the media at the season review press conference, or making (supposedly) incorrect statements regarding the 18-game NFL season, it's pretty clear that Bill Polian needs to stop taking, publicly.
He just cannot help getting his foot caught in his own mouth.
In general, I support Polian talking to fans via a call-in show format. I have always cheered him for this. However, when you open yourself up to access of this kind, it's very important that Polian (as the unquestioned leader of the Colts franchise) measure his answers and present himself in a calm, professional manner. He also must accept complete and total accountability for the answers he gives. If he cannot do that, he should not make himself available.
As we all saw last year following Week Sixteen, Bill Polian does not react well when people call him out on obvious BS answers.
All that said, I think that if someone like Bill Polian is against an 18-game season, that's all I need to know about how damaging the new format could be to the game of football. I may take shots at Polian for being a hypocritical jerk at times, but the man knows and cares about football. And if owners are not listening to him when he (perhaps) is telling them that an 18-game season is a dumb idea, then the owners are clueless and we fans are in deep, deep do-do.
And if Polian's reasoning for answering the question the way he did Monday night was to spark debate, then Bill deserves a big pat on the back.