There was a reunion of former Indianapolis Colts players and coaches in Canton, Ohio tonight. Owner Jim Irsay was there, as was former head coaches Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell. Quarterback Peyton Manning left Denver after this morning's practice in order to be there, and other former players such as Jeff Saturday, Tarik Glenn, Dallas Clark, and Brandon Stokley were there as well. The reason? Former president and general manager Bill Polian was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Polian thanked as many people as possible in a 16-minute window, including a lot of people from the Colts organization. Of Jim Irsay, Polian said that he "had a vision for his Colts and allowed us to make it a reality," praising Irsay's loyalty and dedication to winning. He thanked a number of former Colts assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Tom Moore, offensive line coach Howard Mudd, defensive line coach John Teerlinck, and defensive backs coach Leslie Frazier. He thanked former head coach Jim Caldwell, who "followed a legend and took us to the Super Bowl."
And then he thanked another former Colts head coach, Tony Dungy - "America's coach," as Polian called him. Polian added, "what a pleasure it was to work with him." But Dungy's greatest feat? That, Polian said, was when Dungy did the unthinkable, the undoable - "because of my great respect for him, he cleaned up my vocabulary." After that statement received a nice applause, Polian joked that the people didn't need to cheer so loudly about it. Polian concluded by saying of Dungy that, "I look forward to his enshrinement in this Hall." The former Buccaneers and Colts head coach has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame in each of the past two years and likely will get in at some point.
And then it was time for Polian to thank some of his former players. Among those former Colts he named were Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clark, Adam Vinatieri, Edgerrin James, and the "incomparable Marvin Harrison." And, of course, quarterback Peyton Manning, his first draft pick with the Colts and the greatest player in franchise history. "If you keep playing, I may not be around for your induction," Polian joked to Manning, "but wherever I am, I'll be thrilled and proud." He noted that Lucas Oil Stadium has a mural that reads, "Built by Champions." "Yes, you are," he told Peyton.
Polian thanked many others from his days with the Bills, the Panthers, and more, but he said that, "I am being inducted as a contributor, but in truth, this game and the NFL has given me far more than I have given it." He concluded by quoting the great Lou Gehrig in saying that, "today, I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth."