Much has been made of Bill Polian's handling of fans and media. His reputation as a secretive, sometimes rude individual has tarnished an otherwise sterling, Hall of Fame career. Phillip B. Wilson's outstanding piece covers the darker side of Polian:
Most who question why a proven football man was shown the door weren’t on the receiving end of such rude treatment. It goes beyond not liking the media, folks. I couldn’t care less about that, aside from wanting to make the man accountable for the sake of fans who have every right to expect me to know information and share it with them. When Polian disrespected the fans for questioning the infamous Jets sitdown decision in 2009, when he alone (I believe) decided at 14-0 that perfection was a meaningless pursuit, that crossed a line. Don’t insult the people who have spent so much money to give you such a great life. That goes beyond arguing a debatable football decision.
As Irsay said in Monday’s presser, you should listen to the fans. It sure helps to be respectful, if for no other reason in that position than public opinion. You don’t have to do everything they say. There’s truth to an old Polian statement about how a front-office boss who listens to fans’ advice will end up sitting with them. But by listen, I guess I mean at least hear them out, and not just on a screened-caller basis for a radio show to spin half-truths and lies. It never hurts to be polite.
It's clear that Polian was the architect of a glorious almost-dynasty, a team on the verge of domination but that ultimately settled on being part of the NFL's lore. His genius is unquestioned and his absence may be felt in the Circle City for decades or mere months depending on the tough choices facing Jim Irsay. Others, like Wilson will always remember the other side of Polian.
Since they have been the two most outspoken Polian haters, it is only fitting that He Who Shall Not Be Named quickly posted his thoughts after this post by Phil B. appeared. (And of course they both try to soften there personal dislike of BP, by saying the Jets game was the main factor.)
In the film "Casablanca" the Peter Lorre character goes to the Humphrey Bogart character, "you really despise me, don't you?." To which Bogy replies, "I probably would if I ever gave you any thought."
And that is the exact sentiment a sane and emmotionally healthy Colts fan should have towards HWSNBN. And I know Nate does totally ignore him.
Yet, I still go by there every day. And I admit I was waiting for this post from HWSNBN that I knew would come. And I knew it would be delusional. And I knew that it would be self congratulatory. And I especially knew that it would be filled with lies, exaggerations and complete misnomers.
But his personal attack on Nate and his attempt to justify himself still surprised me. (Although I don't know why, since Nate is his second favorite target.)
I don't know what it says for me that although 90% of what HWSNBN writes raises my blood pressure to dangerous levels and yet I still continue to read him... But if BP had done nothing during his tenure but make HWSNBN's life the hell he claims it was for the last two years, then I would still consider BP a sure fire inductee to the Ring of Honor.
I must say, the article was better than I expected, given Phil B´s unbearable tone and content this year. It came off as a measured, reasonable piece of writing. Still doesn´t change my point of view of his value as a journalist after this year, though. He spends a lot of time talking about how Polian needs to control the worst traits of his personality, and expands on the merits of amability and professionalism even in trying times (which this year certainly was for Bill Polian, hence the apparent worsening of his temper), but what about his bitterness, what about his vitriol? And his unproven accusations, aren´t they unbefitting of a professional too? Saying Polian alone decided pulling out the starters in 2009 seems farfetched. Are Irsay and Caldwell absolved of that just because?
Anyway, I´d like to thank Nate for hinting that this was indeed the reason for the firing. All in all, the article shed some light on what went on inside the organization, and maybe indirectly in Irsay´s mind.
My understanding is that is piece is all true and it's stuff like this that got him fired. The season had very little to do with it, really, other than the losing brought out the worst in him (and everyone) and made the whole situation untenable.
This is why he's gone. Not the draft. Not Painter. Not Caldwell. Not 2-14.
This might be the best thing he's written all year. I still don't know that you should fire a successful guy just because he's an asshole, but I guess it's up for debate. As a fan who has no real interaction with the man, I'd much rather have the unparalleled success. But I can understand why people in the organization would trade success for a nicer guy running the show. I'd rather have wins and an asshole, but I don't have to deal with him.
@DougEngland I don't go there anymore. The site has nothing worth reading anyway.
@DougEngland You get a like for that last paragraph. Seriously, what is the fascination with assclowns whose mission in life is histrionically flinging poop and having a following while being self-important?
@DougEngland HWSNBN went after Nate? Glad you read it so I don't have to. That guy is the absolute worst. Literally one of the dumbest people I've ever read on the internet, and that says something. Still, it's worth remembering this classic comic: http://xkcd.com/386/ .
It just shows that we have to do our part to make sure Colts Authority gains traction. There's a small, frightening possibility that when Irsay listens to "fans", he listens to dudes like HWSNBN.
@Nate Dunlevy That sounds entirely reasonable. It's definitely a Jekyll and Hyde story. On one hand he was a brilliant GM whose drafts and strategy were the reason the Colts won a Super Bowl and as many AFC South titles as they did. On the other hand he wasn't great with people apparently.
I'm with you--the performance wasn't what got him fired.
@Nate Dunlevy Here's my biggest problem with that assertion: If it truly was so bad, why did Irsay allow it to go on? On the media side he could have promoted someone else as the public face of the franchise and left Polian working mainly in the office. Polian obviously preferred that work anyway.
On the business side, the damning mountain of evidence Phil B offers is one anecdote about an employee who wasn't allowed to talk to his reporter friend inside the complex and another about how an ex-player was snubbed and asked to leave. Oh, and some dark and spooky implications that somebody with The City has "serious stories" to share... oh, but no need to talk about that! Use your fertile imagination instead! Maybe Polian was secretly a vampire, and not the glittery kind! Give me a break.
I've had bad bosses and bad co-workers. If I told you only the three or four worst stories about each, these people would sound like fucking monsters instead of just flawed people.
And I'm sorry, but I emphatically reject the repeated comparisons to Bob Knight. Knight punched and choked his players. Polian was rude to people. Conflating the two minimalizes the severity of physical assault in a way I find kind of insulting.
I have no problem believing that Bill Polian is a prick and an asshole. He may have been really, really unpleasant to work for. But to some extent that's life at the top of the food chain. Nice guys don't always make it there. It certainly didn't earn him any friends but I can't believe that it was such a strong factor in his dismissal, otherwise why would such a confident and capable owner as Irsay put up with it for so long?
@Nate Dunlevy That's good I guess, because all those other reasons were stupid.
The funny thing to me is that my one extended interaction with Polian was great. I saw him come speak to a small class about local city politics as it relates to sports. He was engaging and interesting (and polite), much like Wilson mentions he can be. So while I believe that is all true and people hate him, I'll always have a biased opinion about him that doesn't match reality.
@psvirsky The new owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan, said something quite astute about matters like this. He said he doesn't want to win with people he dislikes or lose with people he likes. In that regard I can understand Jim Irsay's choice.
It's clear they won't find a better guy at finding talent than Bill Polian--it's impossible to do. The only guys in the same league to me are Ozzy Newsome and Bill Belichick. Other than that you're looking at less desirable guys. Good enough? Maybe.
They will find someone who is better at handling personal interaction. That much is clear.
Well said. I too would rather have a donkey run the show and have the success we had rather than someone that is nice to people and media. What is funny though is that even if we hire the nicest guy out there and he does not win, everyone and the media will start calling for his head. You really can’t win. Let these people have their moment under the sun now but i have a feeling that they start blaming Irsay for hiring the wrong guy not long from now. In the end you always reap what you saw. Let’s hope we hire a great GM and if he ends up being a nice guy, well that’s a bonus in my book. Go Colts@psvirsky
@Goéland I really am questioning more what it says about me that I conrtinue to read HWSNBN and Wormtongue Kravitz. I can not control them, but I certainly can control myself.
Wormtongue's post today left me almost as furious as HWSNBN's did. I swear, there is a part of me that thinks the Local Media (Except for Chap) want to see the departure of Manning almost as much as they wanted to see the end of BP.
@squirrel@Nate Dunlevy Also, last year was Chris' first year at the helm, and that role will only increase. So while it might be worth keeping Bill around for his talent (even as he started to take a back seat), it made less sense each year that Chris' responsibility increased, and it makes less sense this year, when you might have the best shot at attracting the top GM talent (assuming the chance to really shape the Colts' future attracts more talent)
@squirrel It got worse this year. It's been bad for a long time, but while they were winning, everyone could endure it in the building. Then they started to lose, the meanness, the crazy, the whatever hit NEW levels of bad.
That's why it became untenable.
Polian actually got meaner and crazier.
@DougEngland I will not read that. I will not read that. I will not read that... What? They want to see Manning´s departure? What? Based on what, the unbearable lightness of winning? No wonder having a wide consensus in this world is so difficult. Maybe that´s why these people do what they do, on second thought. They figure they have found the eternal motion motor; they certainly have enough stupidity to propel it.
Good points about timing and either winning with or screwing up a SB team--a lose-lose situation for a new GM (reputation-wise). Hmmm, coming on board with two good young tackles taken in the 1st and 2nd rounds the year before, and a #1 draft pick for a franchise QB... that situation kind of sounds familiar.... if only I could remember where I remember it from.... I STILL think it's an appealing situation for a new GM--my one annual disagreement with Nate.
@psvirsky@squirrel@Nate Dunlevy Yeah, and not just the talent. If a GM came in two years ago or even last year, they are in Caldwell's position. If they win, it's "they didn't do anything but keep the Colts the same". If they lose, it's "this new guy was a disaster." Now, if the Colts win it looks more like righting the ship through a difficult time
@dansvirsky@squirrel@Nate Dunlevy Yeah maybe part of the calculation is figuring out the best time to hire a great GM. The cap situation isn't great but having the #1 pick in the Luck draft is huge. And despite the mass opinions on Polian's draft slippage, there is tons of young talent on the roster. I imagine a lot of GM's would be excited to have an offense revolve around Luck, Garcon, Collie, Brown, Tamme and two young tackles.
@Goeland @Nate Dunlevy @squirrel Lord knows I really don't envy their job. But just finding someone who's thick-skinned with enough good humor and can let everything roll off the back of their skin isn't so easy, but also not SO hard. Think about all the good-humored high school teachers that exist, or caretakers of very sick, or very angry people. There's a lot more of them than brilliant mathematicians at the IMO level. That's basically the ratio difference we're looking at (at least in my line of work). So supply and demand says that the crazies get a lot of money....and their babysitters don't.
@Goeland @Nate Dunlevy @squirrel I don't think the damage control crew is actually all that costly. I have vague ideas of roughly what salaries look like on Wall Street, and the buffer people come pretty cheap. A bit better than what practice squad people haul in. Not as much as NFL rookies, often. People who can babysit crazy and unpleasant geniuses are not as rare as the crazy geniuses themselves.
@flores_salicis@Nate Dunlevy@squirrel I´m thinking perhaps that would have made sense to Irsay in order to retain Bill Polian, but Chris, while being good, was not considered irreplaceable, which made the damage control needed to work in his environment too costly and excessively complicated? Who knows, it´s only speculation, and Chris seemed friendlier than Bill at first sight, but there are some reports he was unpleasant to work with. I don´t know, and as a fan, I´m grateful to both of them anyway.
@Nate Dunlevy@squirrel They should hire Wall Street MD assistants. There's ton of these people in our line of work, but firing them isn't an option unless we want to go bankrupt. The solution is to get reallllllly good people around them so that they don't turn the work environment unpalatable. We probably have easily at least several hundred Polian-types spread across a measly 7 floors, and even after the debacle of the US debt ceiling and Eurozone crises and awful Q3 and Q4 numbers, the environment in our office has been ok.
Brilliant people often are mean and insane. Inability to relate to others, for starters. Incredibly arrogant. And there ARE people who can buffer their interactions with others so that you can still make use of their talents without making employee relations break down to unsustainable levels.