The NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be voted on and announced this Saturday, and the Colts could be well-represented. Former head coach Tony Dungy and wide receiver Marvin Harrison are among the 15 modern era finalists for the second straight season, while former general manager Bill Polian is one of the contributor candidates this season. We conclude our look at each of their chances at getting inducted this year by looking at Bill Polian's chances. Click these links for more on Tony Dungy's chances or Marvin Harrison's chances.
Why he will make the Hall of Fame:
Bill Polian was an NFL general manager for 25 seasons and for three different teams, compiling a 238-145 record (.621 win percentage), a 18-16 postseason record (.529 win percentage), reaching five Super Bowls and winning one, and winning six Sporting News Executive of the Year Awards (the most of anybody in history). He was the general manager of the Buffalo Bills from 1986-1992, building the team that went to four consecutive Super Bowls. He was fired after the third Super Bowl loss due to disagreements with management, and he went to work in the league office. Shortly thereafter, he took over the expansion franchise Carolina Panthers and nearly built them into a Super Bowl team in just their second season, though they fell just short in the NFC Championship game. After four seasons in Carolina (1994-1997), the Indianapolis Colts made a move to get Polian as their general manager and team president. During Polian's tenure with the Colts, they went from being consistently one of the worst teams in the league to consistently one of the best, compiling a 143-81 record, winning eight division titles, two AFC titles, and a Super Bowl championship. The Colts 118 wins in the decade made them the winningest franchise in any decade in NFL history. Under Polian's guidance, the Colts made the playoffs in eleven of fourteen seasons. He is widely regarded as one of the best executives in league history, and he built three different teams into contenders. In addition to his work in constructing franchises, Polian had a major voice within the National Football, as he served on a number of committees, including the competition committee.
Why he won't make the Hall of Fame:
There are two things that could come into play for keeping Bill Polian out of the Hall of Fame, but let's start with the lesser of the two. Firstly, remember that this is voted on by media, and Polian was never good with the media. This shouldn't come into play, but we'd be naive to think that it doesn't factor into the voters' minds at least somewhat. But the biggest standing between Polian and the Hall of Fame this year is not his icy relationship with the media but rather doubt about whether he's really done. Just recently, there were reports that Polian would be rejoining the Bills as team president, and though he ultimately didn't take the job it sounds like he seriously considered it. While there is no rule saying that contributors/executives have to be retired to be inducted in the Hall of Fame (as opposed to the rules about players getting in), it's clear that the voters don't really want to put someone in the most prestigious group until they are certain that their career has been told in it's entirety. Are they convinced that Bill Polian is truly done with the NFL? If not, he might not have the support he otherwise would have.
What are his chances to make it as part of the Class of 2015?
The most important thing when considering Bill Polian's Hall of Fame chances is this: he's a contributor finalist. What this means is that he does not count toward the number of modern era finalists that can get in. For Polian, it's much less about trying to figure out which people deserve to be in and at the expense of others, because Polian is in a separate category. Because of that, there's really no reason to keep him out of the Hall of Fame this year, and his chances are very strong at being inducted into Canton this fall. "Bill is another no-brainer," former Colts coach Tony Dungy told RTV6's Mike Chappell about Polian. "Just look at what he's done and the three organizations that he helped put in place. Just phenomenal. No question he's a first-ballot guy." Dungy is right, and it's likely that former Colts' general manager Bill Polian, the architect of the great Colts teams of the 2000s, will be voted into the Hall of Fame. As one of the greatest executives that the league has ever seen, he'll likely be donning that gold jacket this fall.