Really. I swear. My pickaxe is dull from mining this golden nugget.
For all the times we at Stampede Blue poke our fun at the big redhead, the reality is that he did some great things in Indianapolis. He is also a fantastic grump, and despite his paranoid, old man craziness, the five-time NFL Executive of the Year winner is a fountain of NFL and football-related knowledge.
When talking to ESPN analyst Dan Dakich on Dakich's radio show last week, Polian said that none of the quarterbacks in this year's draft class have what he calls "incandescence." The literal definition of that word is: The emission of visible light by a hot object. Relating to football, Polian is basically saying that none of the QBs standout. They don't command a room, a huddle, or the attention of the viewer.
Three quarterbacks from last year's class did apparently have said incandescence and, per Polian, those QBs were Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson.
When asked by Dakich which Colts player Polian had previously worked who surprised him with said "incandescence," Polian was quick to answer this this rather interesting name:
You know, Marvin [Harrison] was that way, although it never came across publicly. And he was very quiet, but when Marvin came out on the field, you said, Wow!
Really? Marvin Harrison? Quiet, diminutive Marvin?
When you were around him, he had that. On the practice field, guys would say, Woah! God, look at that!
He didn't come across that way to the media and even to his teammates. We used to joke at the fact that he could hide in plain sight.
Man, when he was out there, you couldn't miss him!
High praise for the man who holds pretty much every significant receiving record in Colts history, be it in Baltimore or Indianapolis. Apparently, even before Polian worked with Harrison in Indianapolis (Marvin was drafted by former Colts V.P. of Football Operations Bill Tobin, who was fired in 1997 and replaced by Polian), Bill thought highly of Marvin:
When I went to work him out at Syracuse University, I had never seen a workout like that in my life. The quickness of his hands, the ability to move his body in just quick bursts, he was incredible. And then, when you went out and watched him play, he was so smooth that he covered that up.
Please understand, I personally think Harrison is one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history. Had he not injured his knee in 2007, he would have gone on to break more than a few of Jerry Rice's all-time receiving records, including the all-time receptions record. As it stands, Harrison is 6th all-time in receiving yards (14,580), 3rd in receptions (1,102), and 5th in touchdowns (128). He also holds the NFL record for most receptions in one season (143 in 2002).
Harrison's a Hall of Famer. First ballot, no question. Anyone who says otherwise simply doesn't understand football.
Sadly, it seems some of the people who vote on the Hall of Fame inductees are people who fall into the "don't understand football" category.
Polian: I was talking to someone last night who is a Hall of Fame elector, and I said to him that I'm sure [Randy] Moss is going to get in. I don't think he'd get very many votes from football people, but the writers are going to put him in. And I said, Marvin's a first ballot shoe-in. He said, Not so fast. And I said, What? Why? Well, he really couldn't give me an answer.
Let this be remembered as a game-changing moment when Bill Polian and I are an absolute, complete agreement on something. I'd also love to know who is this yutz of an elector that Polian was chatting with.
Ah, but like all fleeting things, my union with Bill Polian is short-lived when, once again, Bill seems to play fast and loose with facts in order to make himself look good, I guess. When asked by Dakich whether or not Polian considered drafting Harrison in 1996, Polian responded with this gem:
Polian: I was with the Carolina Panthers at the time.
Dakich: Oh OK.
Polian: I didn't come [to Indianapolis] until the following year, but we worked him out as part of our draft process. We had been to the championship game the year before, so we were drafting, I think, 20... well, of 32 teams, we were drafting 28, or thereabouts. When we saw the workout, Dom Capers, who was our head coach, he said, Can we get this guy? I said, If we trade out whole draft, and he may be worth it!
Dakich: Where did the Colts pick?
Polian: I'm surprised he lasted that long. I thought he would go in the top 10.
Marvin Harrison was selected with the 19th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. The Carolina Panthers did not draft at the 28th pick, or thereabouts, that year. They had the 8th overall pick, and then-Panther G.M. Bill Polian used it on Michigan running back Tim Biakabutuka.
So, yeah, Bill Polian passed on Marvin Harrison - who had seemingly the greatest pre-draft workout he'd ever seen and was apparently so good that Carolina would have needed to trade their entire draft to get - for a mediocre running back who finished his career with 2,530 yards.
Normally, I'd give someone like Polian a pass for confusing when he did or didn't draft a player, but, in this case, Poppa Bill has made this bogus 'we couldn't draft him because he went off the board before our pick' claim before.
So, yeah, we kind of have to call bullsh*t on this one, Bill. Never change, though. Never change.