Former Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian Headed for Buffalo Bills' Wall of Fame: Fan Reaction

For a generation of Indianapolis Colts fans, Bill Polian will always be remembered as the architect of the first golden era of the NFL in our Circle City, and even the debacle of the lost 2011 season probably can’t change that perception. Before he ever came west, though, Polian made his name as the general manager of the Buffalo Bills teams that won three straight AFC championships in the early 1990s. Back then, I often found myself rooting for the Bills in the playoffs, partly because they toiled in the same division as the lowly Colts, but mostly because they maintained a likable underdog persona year after year. I guess that three straight Super Bowl losses can dull the edge of public perception, and those “failures” were also enough to cost Polian his Buffalo gig in February of 1993. Time apparently heals, though, as the Bills announced on May 14 that Polian will as the newest member of the team’s “Wall of Fame.” It may be a bit early yet, but this news made me ponder Polian’s ultimate place in Colts’ history.

If you just consider that Polian was in charge when the Colts drafted Manning in 1998, it’s tempting to elevate the President to “Ring of Honor” status without a second thought. Rumors have always persisted, though, the whispers around town were that Polian and that Irsay pulled rank to get Manning in Blue and White. Who knows? Had Polian been a little more seasoned in his relationship with Irsay at the time, maybe Leaf would have landed in Indy, flamed out and taken the franchise with him. Without Manning, after all, there is a decent chance that the Colts would have at some point in the last 15 years.

As it stands, we have to give Polian at least some of the credit for selecting Manning and keeping him happy for more than a decade. In his early drafting days with the Colts, Polian delivered a nice to complement Manning’s talents. The list of picks before their Super Bowl runs reads like a roll call of Colts stars during the 2000s: Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, Dallas Clark, Bob Sanders. In the last several years, the Colts have pretty much whiffed on their first-rounders, which many attribute to the growing responsibilities of Polian’s son, team general manager Chris Polian.

So, there is a mixed bag for Bill Polian in terms of his Indianapolis legacy. Many saw him as something of a tyrant, and many others think that he was largely a puppet for Irsay. My take is that Polian could get pretty defensive at times and was very hard-headed when it came to admitting a mistake, which may be why the Colts were caught flat-footed in terms of quarterback depth when Manning went down last year. Still, Polian was in charge when Indianapolis became a bona fide NFL city, and he managed to keep the wheels on and rolling when a lot of big egos were involved. To me, that should earn him the benefit of the doubt and some mantel space in the Colts’ trophy room.

Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Colts fans since the team arrived in Indianapolis on a snowy morning in 1984. The Blue and White eventually replaced the Chicago Bears as his #1 team, and Super Bowl XLI was a dream come true.

Indianapolis Colts Will Keep Dwight Freeney in 2012: Fan's Reaction

Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney will remain with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012. Freeney is in the final year of his contract and is due to a large salary for the upcoming season. This forced trade rumors and speculation that the team may even look to release Freeney. The team has several holes to fill and many felt that moving Freeney would be the move necessary to lead the team into their new era.

General manager Ryan Grigson addressed the situation on Monday March 26 and stated, “He’s a Colt. Period”. Grigson wanted to put an end to any rumors that the team may be looking to trade or release their best remaining player.

As a fan, this makes me very happy. Freeney is the only jersey I have left of a player still on the team and is one of the biggest stars remaining. I think he will be a captain of the defense and will be a leader that young players can look up to. Whether he remains with the team beyond 2012 is another question, but fans can be relieved that they will see another season of Dwight Freeney.

I felt all along that moving Freeney would not be the answer to helping the team improve now, or in the future. Dwight is one of the elite pass rushers in the game and can single handedly dominate a football game. Pairing him along with Robert Mathis in an attacking style defense is scary for opponents. There is little doubt that coach Chuck Pagano is going to install a defense that puts pressure on the opposing quarterback. The team will blitz more and the defense will look significantly different in 2012 than fans are used to. Dwight Freeney will likely be a big reason behind that. Playing the rush linebacker position, Freeney could have a season very similar to the player he will mimic, Terrell Suggs.

It’s nice to know that one popular player will be staying with the team next year. Dwight Freeney is one of the best players and most popular players on the team. I’m happy to see Freeney returning and terrorizing defenses again in 2012 for the Indianapolis Colts.

Kyle Rapoza is a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and has been a lifelong fan of the Indianapolis Colts. He attended Super Bowl XLIV in Miami and follows the team closely. He also runs the blog that covers the team. Follow him on Twitter @kyler11.


Could the Indianapolis Colts Defense Be Dominant in 2012? Fan's Take

The Indianapolis Colts are making big improvements already this offseason in preparation for the 2012 NFL season. They hired Chuck Pagano as head coach from the Baltimore Ravens and are hoping to bring his Raven-style defense to Indianapolis. They’ve made several strong moves so far in free agency and may be more prepared than many think to make the switch to a 3-4 hybrid defense. With several months left to fill needs in free agency and with the NFL draft approaching, I think Indianapolis could be much better than fans think at this point.

The additions to two former Baltimore players, Cory Redding and Tom Zbikowski should provide a big boost. Both will likely step in as starters and play major roles in helping others learn and feel comfortable in the new defensive scheme. Redding is one of the better 3-4 defense ends in the game and Zbikowski fills a major need at safety alongside Antoine Bethea.

The biggest remaining need is at nose tackle. Nose tackle is one of the most important positions in a 3-4 and is one where Indianapolis is currently lacking. The closest fit to this position on the current roster is Antonio Johnson. At just 310 pounds, he isn’t the ideal fit at nose tackle. There are several options in both free agency and the NFL draft. with the addition of someone at nose tackle, Indianapolis will have a strong defensive line in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 front. Fili Moala could fit in very good as a 3-4 defense end opposite Redding and Drake Nevis should be a disruptive force wherever he plays in the new defense.

I think this scheme is perfect for the personnel because it will instantly give Indianapolis one of, if not the best, linebacking groups in the NFL. Robert Mathis recently stated that the SAM linebacker spot and Dwight Freeney would play the rush linebacker position. The Colts’ two inside linebackers, Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner, should continue to improve and will likely be very good in a system where plays are funneled toward the linebackers.

I think fans who think Indianapolis could be in for a down year may be pleasantly surprised. This defense already has the makings of being very good in 2012. Only time will tell, but I think fans may be pleased with the success the team has on the field next season.

Kyle Rapoza is a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and has been a lifelong fan of the Indianapolis Colts. He attended Super Bowl XLIV in Miami and follows the team closely. He runs a blog about the team at . Follow him on Twitter @kyler11.