Subtle role reversals for Polians
Bill's son Chris is becoming the Colts' front-office leader

May 2, 2011 | 3Comments

Zoom Bill Polian, president of the Indianapolis Colts and son Chris Polian, vice president and general Manager, right, speak to the media on April 22. / MATT KRYGER / The StarTwitterFacebookShare Digg Reddit Facebook Twitter Newsvine FarkIt EmailPrintAAA

Written by
Mike Chappell Filed Under
Indianapolis Colts
Bill Polian
Jim Caldwell
They stood a few feet apart, which made it easier to toss the hot topic back and forth.

Included in the discussion of the NFL's latest draft, which ended Saturday evening, was which Polian -- Bill, the vice chairman, or son Chris, the vice president and general manager -- actually was in charge of the Indianapolis Colts' draft room.

A member of the media asked: "Did the draft-room dynamic change, Bill taking a step back, Chris taking a step forward? Would it be wrong to say, 'Chris, this is your first draft?' ''

"That's not wrong,'' Bill Polian said.

Chris Polian, smiling, respectfully disagreed.

"That's not right,'' he said. "That's where I would disagree with you. It's everybody's draft. Everybody worked on it.''

But, who led the Colts draft?

"We all do,'' insisted Chris Polian. "It's hokey, but it's a collaborative process.''

But, someone persisted, "is it safe to say the dynamic has changed?''

"The dynamic has changed, there is no two ways about that,'' said Bill Polian, who has overseen Colts drafts since 1998 with the help of a support staff that has included his son, senior player personnel consultant Dom Anile, player personnel director Tom Telesco, head coaches Jim Mora, Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell, assistant coaches and countless scouts.

"Chris set the parameters. He did the study that gave us the road map as to where we needed to go. We stayed with that.

"Your interest, I know, is what happens in the room. Nothing much has changed there.''

The Colts again were led by a four-man panel: the Polians, Telesco and Caldwell. It was their consensus that retooled the offensive line with tackles Anthony Castonzo (first round) and Ben Ijalana (second), and delivered high-energy tackle Drake Nevis (third) to the defense.

"Any one of us can bring up a point,'' Bill Polian said. "Any one of us can mention a priority. We don't make a choice that we don't all agree on. That even goes to setting the (draft) board.

"But it's fair to say that the dynamic has changed pretty dramatically because Chris sets the parameters by which you set the board up, and that's the big thing.''

Consider it the latest step in a gradual transition aimed at Chris Polian, 39, succeeding his father and, basically, running the Colts' football operations.

Bill Polian, 68, hasn't addressed how much longer he'll handle a prominent role with the Colts, but, as is the case with 35-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning, he's closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

In late February, owner Jim Irsay altered Bill Polian's title from president to vice chairman.

"From an outside eye,'' Irsay said at the time, "it probably won't be noticeable. He's not taking a consultant role.

"Bill's not clearing out his office.''

The idea, Irsay emphasized, was to increase Chris Polian's responsibilities, along with those of Telesco, and decrease Bill Polian's workload, however slightly. The adjustment would allow Bill Polian to spend less time at the team headquarters and more at his home in Charlotte, N.C.

The actual transition began in 2009 when Irsay extended the contracts of the Polians "through the 2012 season and beyond,'' Irsay said at the time.

Nothing is definite, but Irsay envisions the succession, which likely results in Bill Polian having very little to do with the team's day-to-day activities, being "a three-year thing.''