In just a few weeks, former general manager Bill Polian will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the class of 2015. In addition to time spent with other franchises, Polian spent 14 seasons at the helm of the Indianapolis Colts franchises, from 1998-2011. His first and greatest draft pick with the Colts will be in attendance this August when Polian goes into the Hall of Fame.
Former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who Polian selected with the first overall pick in 1998 and who spent 14 seasons in Indianapolis with the general manager, called into Polian's radio show on SiriusXM NFL radio tonight to publicly congratulate his friend on the honor.
"I'm excited for Bill's induction and I plan on being there," Manning said. The quarterback noted that he has sent letters and texts to Polian to congratulate him and that the two still talk often, but he wanted to publicly congratulate Polian as well. "I've never been to Canton ever, Bill," Manning continued. "I remember a couple of years ago when the Colts played in there I had my knee issue so I had to miss the trip to Canton, so coming to Canton to see Bill make his speech will be my first trip, and I couldn't be more proud and excited for Bill."
Polian humbly stated the obvious - that despite the fact that it will be Manning's first trip to Canton and the Hall of Fame, it most certainly won't be his last. "Well I can assure you it won't be your last," Polian said, "and check around the building and follow the ceremony closely because five years or so from now - or maybe more than that if you keep playing - you'll be there, so it'll be a good dry run for you. I'm very honored that you're coming, obviously."
During their 14 years together, Manning and Polian accomplished some incredible things. The Colts compiled a 167-41 record, made eleven playoff appearances, won eight division titles, won two AFC titles, and won Super Bowl XLI. The Colts racked up the most wins in a single decade of any team in NFL history (winning 115 games in the 2000s), and the major reason for their success was their quarterback. Manning won four league MVP awards and made 11 Pro Bowls during his time in Indianapolis, shattering every significant franchise passing record and achieving the bulk of the production that has made him the league's all-time touchdown leader and will soon make him the league's all-time passing yards leader.
"It was always a general manager to quarterback relationship for many of the years as I was just kind of starting and just growing into it, but when somebody for 14 years, and then of course had been close in the four years that I've been in Denver, it certainly turns into a friendship," Manning explained. "And I always knew that Bill had my back. We were always trying to do the same things, trying to win, trying to rob the same train if you will. We all had the same goals in mind, but I always knew that Bill had my back and that always meant a lot. You like playing for guys that you know are going to have your back and are kind of right in the middle of it fighting with you.
"Even though Bill wasn't on the field on Sundays, it felt like he was," Manning continued. "He was out there on the practice field every practice. I can't think of a practice in my 14 years in Indy that Bill wasn't right there behind the players next to the assistant coaches in his shorts and t-shirt right in the middle of it. He's an old coach so he's got coaching in his blood, and then on Sunday's I'm telling you he was on that field until the last possible minute walking through the stretch lines, shaking everybody's hand, and so it felt like he was out there with us. And then of course he was the first guy to greet us in the locker room, either to shake our hand and congratulate us after a win or put his arm around us after a loss. It was a special privilege to play for a guy like that and that's not necessarily normal."
Manning, now the quarterback for the Denver Broncos, will be making the trip to Canton this August for his friend Bill Polian's Hall of Fame induction. He likely won't be the only former Colts player at the event, and former wide receiver Reggie Wayne hopes to make it as well.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Reggie Wayne said yesterday that if his schedule allows it, he’s going to try and attend Bill Polian’s Hall of Fame induction on August 8th.</p>— Kevin Bowen (@KBowenColts) <a href="https://twitter.com/KBowenColts/status/622394146657972226">July 18, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>