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Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

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  • Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

    I know that this issue has been debated to death over the last couple of years and that we have a playoff game to focus on right now. But there's a ton of good info in this article, so I felt compelled to start a new thread about it:

    Colts would have kept Peyton Manning and drafted Andrew Luck if former GM Bill Polian got his way

    In the period before Bill Polian was fired as Colts vice chairman after they went 2-14 without Peyton Manning in 2011, he went to team owner Jimmy Irsay with a quarterback plan.

    He suggested to Irsay that even though Manning was coming off serious neck surgery and missed the 2011 season that he pick up his $28 million option bonus and then with the first pick in the draft select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

    Polian knew it would be a drain on the Colts’ salary cap, but he wanted to keep Manning — he obviously went on to make a full recovery from the surgery — and let Luck sit and learn from Manning.

    “Andrew would have backed him up for a couple of years,” Polian told the Daily News on Wednesday. “When the time was right, he would have stepped in. What the team around Andrew would have looked like at that point, given the salary-cap issues, was a question. It would have been tight, but it could have worked. It would have been my preference, but Jimmy still had final call.”

    Polian’s plan became moot when Irsay fired him and then the Colts pulled off the smoothest handoff in NFL history: Manning to Luck.

    Some teams search for generations and never find a franchise quarterback. They have the first overall pick and select Tim Couch, David Carr or JaMarcus Russell. The Colts had the good fortune to be terrible in the right years (1997 and 2011), allowing them to first take Manning in 1998 and Luck in 2012. They have gone from one of the greatest players in NFL history to the best young quarterback in the game.

    “They deserved good luck after what they went through in 1983,” Ernie Accorsi said Wednesday.

    Accorsi was the Colts general manager in 1983. He picked John Elway first overall, but he refused to play for coach Frank Kush, and owner Robert Irsay traded him one week later to the Broncos without Accorsi’s knowledge or approval. “When you look at the Colts franchise, they went from (Johnny) Unitas to Bert Jones, then end up with Peyton Manning and Luck,” Accorsi said.
    There was a time when Peyton Manning (l.) is the young Colts franchise quarterback.
    There was a time when Peyton Manning (l.) is the young Colts franchise quarterback.

    In the final nine years Manning played for the Colts, he won four MVPs, went to two Super Bowls and the playoffs every year. “Suck for Luck,” became the battle cry in Indianapolis in 2011. The Colts took it seriously.

    Luck, considered the best quarterback prospect since Manning in 1998, was sitting right there for them with the first pick. The Colts cut Manning less than two months before the draft rather than pay him the option bonus and then handed the franchise over to Luck.

    Manning signed with Denver and will face the Chargers in the divisional round on Sunday. Luck goes against Tom Brady and the Patriots on Saturday night in Foxborough. If they both win, they face each other in the AFC title game on Jan. 19 in Denver.


    “I’m sure they didn’t want to go 2-14,” Accorsi said. “What happens if they go 2-14 and there is no quarterback? People have good luck and bad luck. In this business, you have a tendency to dwell on the heartbreak. It just broke well for them. God bless them. Luck is some quarterback.”

    Manning was the starter the opening game of his rookie year against Dan Marino, who was nearing the end of his career. He retired after the 1999 season. In the 14 seasons after Marino, the Dolphins have started 17 different quarterbacks. It started with Jay Fiedler and now they hope they have found their guy in Ryan Tannehill, picked seven spots after Luck in 2012.

    Tannehill has started all 32 games in his two seasons, but has yet to make the playoffs.

    In between, the Dolphins started such stars as A.J. Feeley, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, John Beck and Chad Henne. The Colts stink for one year and get the best quarterback prospect in more than a decade. It almost isn’t fair.
    When the Colts decided to send Manning packing, it made way for Andrew Luck.
    Andy Lyons/Getty
    When the Colts decided to send Manning packing, it made way for Andrew Luck.

    “It’s just serendipity,” Polian said. “It just happens.”

    The 49ers went from Joe Montana to Steve Young, but the circumstances were different. Bill Walsh traded for Young in 1987, but he didn’t take over as the starter until 1991 when Montana was out with an elbow injury. The Packers went from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, but Rodgers was a late first-round pick who sat on the bench for three seasons until Favre retired, unretired and then was traded to the Jets.

    Polian said the Colts “were in the right place at the right time,” to get Luck. “More power to them.”

    He revealed that if he knew how serious Manning’s neck injury was at the time of the 2011 draft, he would have taken either Colin Kaepernick or Andy Dalton in the first round.

    “We loved them both,” he said.

    That, of course, means Luck probably wouldn’t be in Indianapolis.

    But because of the lockout, the Colts and their trainers could not have any contact with Manning from March 12 to July 25. When the Colts realized later in camp that Manning was not going to be ready for the season — he eventually needed surgery — Polian had to scramble. He talked Kerry Collins out of retirement, he got hurt in the third game, then the Colts went with Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky.

    That led to 2-14 and a little bit of luck.

    Read more:

    Great article with a lot of interesting quotes from Polian that I've never heard before.

    His idea, which was to keep Manning and draft Luck, was by far the worst option out there, IMO. The Colts either had to go all in on Manning or all in on Luck. Keeping both would have been a giant disservice to both. We either had to trade the pick for a haul of assets to make one more run with Manning, or we had to completely cut ties and draft Luck. Luck wouldn't have just backed up Peyton for a "couple" of years as Polian says. Peyton has already played a "couple" of years post-injury and I don't think he's hanging it up any time soon. Those "couple" of years would have turned into 4-5 years when all was said and done. I seriously doubt that Luck would have patiently waited until he was 27 years old to take an NFL snap. His camp would have politely requested a trade had the Colts kept Manning.

    Also, I wonder how serious Polian was about Kaepernick and Dalton, or if this is just a classic case of Polian embellishing things to make himself look like a genius? I remember in 2011 when had an article about Marvin Harrison getting inducted into the Ring of Honor. Polian, who was the Panthers GM in 1996, said that he wanted to draft Harrison at the time. But as he tells it, the Colts drafted Harrison before Carolina picked. The only problem with his story is that Carolina actually drafted before the Colts in 1996 and passed on Harrison. Over the years, Polian has twisted it around into this tale about how he knew immediately that Harrison would be a HOF WR after watching him workout. I don't think he would have drafted Tim Biakabutuka over Harrison if that had been the case.
    Last edited by Sollozzo; 01-09-2014, 09:33 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

    I think this was all revisionist history on Polian's part. Sure its believable Polian would've supported Manning regardless after all he did draft the guy and it started his career as a Colts GM.

    However if he values his job(which I'm sure he did) and it came to drafting Luck and dumping Manning in the process to do so? He would've no doubt about it so any lip service he provides is just that.

    I also don't buy he'd draft Kaepernick or Dalton either otherwise he would've. Instead as far as a QB not named Manning he drafted his name was Curtis Painter...

    I think that says it all.


    • #3
      Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck


      I don't believe for a second Polian would have drafted Dalton or Kaepernick, he's just trying to look good. This is the same guy that got on the Spurs for resting their starters. Said he would never do something like that. The guy is a troll.

      I still think if Polian was in charge still he would have drafted RGIII just to go against what everyone is saying is the right pick. So he can look like the "genius" in the room.

      So glad Polian and his minions are gone. He belongs on ESPN, he ballwashed ESPN over the local guys here, didn't he? Would grant Jaws an interview and shun the locals. ****** thing to do.
      Super Bowl XLI Champions
      2000 Eastern Conference Champions


      • #4
        Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

        Yeah it's pretty safe to say that Andrew isn't a bench warmer. You can't have your cake and eat it too. I think it was maybe the most difficult decisions ever made in sports history, but Irsay got it right. I will admit that sometimes it still eats at me, Peyton is kind of like the ex girlfriend that you wish never got away, even though your happy with your current girlfriend.


        • #5
          Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

          I agree that who knows what Polian would've really done but I bet drafting Luck wasn't one of them because he couldn't do what everyone and his brother were saying to do. Drafting RGIII sounds about right... as does not drafting a QB at all and sticking with Painter and putting all his eggs in the Manning basket again.

          And let's not forget Polian's selective memory about what he would've done about drafting Harrison back in the day. After that, and everything else piled on, Polian has zero credibility in talking about what he would've done. What he says he would've done would be whatever hindsight now tells him would be the best answer. ...Even if reality and a little fact checking shows he's full of s---.

          The only real certainty about what he would've done would be to rest assured he wouldn't have done the thing that media and locals were clamoring for and would have stubbornly went another direction just to show people he will not bow to popular opinion and try and prove himself smarter than everyone else.

          What he proved was his arrogance and stubbornness led him to the firing line. He should've been fired years ago.

          And these are the nice things I can say about him!
          Nuntius was right for a while. I was wrong for a while. But ultimately I was right and Frank Vogel has been let go.


          "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, that’s teamwork."

          -John Wooden


          • #6
            Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

            I believe him about Dalton. I remember that rumor before that draft.

            Keeping Manning and drafting Luck would have been so, so dumb though.


            • #7
              Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

              It would be an almost untenable situation, Polian.
              Never forget


              • #8
                Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

                Where's Jay Mohr ??


                • #9
                  Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

                  Keeping Luck and Manning would have been a disaster. We would have so much money tied up in the QB post it would have been ridiculous. The rookie scale helps a bit, but Manning was making a ton and Luck was still the first overall pick. We would have had to make all the cap moves that Grigs did and probably more and the team would have still be gutted leaving with Manning a worse team to try and drag into the playoffs coming off such major injury. Could we have brought Reggie back with those two on the roster?

                  This would have been a bad idea as well because it would hurt Luck's development. Manning is such a maniac does anyone really see him taking the time to work with Luck and letting him get snaps at all? Manning would hog all the snaps and probably feel bothered by the idea of training his replacement. Some QBs need a year to ride the bench and just learn from a vet. Luck is not one of those QBs and needed to learn under fire.

                  Now lets say we did draft Luck and we still have Manning this season. Manning still looks at the top of his game. How much longer do you allow Manning to lead the team before you turn it over to Luck? Are you really going to sit Luck for three seasons? How do you rationalize it with a fanbase that adores Manning that it is a good move to cut Manning and turn it over to this unproven rookie? The best thing to happen to Luck was he came in and took the ball running from the get go. Having to replace Manning coming off two good seasons would have been a disaster.


                  • #10
                    Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

                    As someone who argued the merits of keeping Manning and trading the pick for a massive haul, keeping both should have been a fireable offense alone. Those who sit on the fence, get a sore crotch. They either needed to go all in for the last stretch of Peyton's career or start anew, not straddle both.
                    Just because you're offended, doesn't mean you're right.” ― Ricky Gervais.


                    • #11
                      Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

                      Originally posted by PacerDude View Post
                      Where's Jay Mohr ??
                      "fat shaming" Alyssa Milano

                      At least that's all I hear in the news anyways.


                      • #12
                        Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

                        Bill Polian loves to revise history with 20-20 hindsight.

                        If you allow me the same, the only scenario that is even arguably as good as the path you took would have been to keep Peyton, trade for a haul of 5 or so high draft picks (if even possible) then use a high 3rd rounder to pick Russell Wilson. Peyton in Indy with 4 more good players and Wilson in the wings would be tempting.

                        But I think that 2 years from now you would still rather have A Luck.
                        The poster "pacertom" since this forum began (and before!). I changed my name here to "Slick Pinkham" in honor of the imaginary player That Bobby "Slick" Leonard picked late in the 1971 ABA draft (true story!).


                        • #13
                          Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

                          Polian wants to always make Polian look as smart as possible, thus he's trying to play both sides of the fence here. With as great as Peyton has looked post-injury, Polian definitely doesn't want to say that he would have been in favor of dumping Manning. Also, he's biased towards Manning because his entire Indy tenure was with Manning and they won a Super Bowl. Completely understandable. But with as great as Luck has looked, Polian also doesn't want to say that he would have been in favor of letting a phenom like that get away. Therefore, he's trying to play both sides here so that he can make himself look smart, but in reality his idea would have been the dumbest one possible.

                          Maybe he did want to draft Dalton or Kaepernick, I don't know. That's a pretty easy thing to say at this point though. After his BS Marvin Harrison story from a few years ago, I'm a little skeptical of anything this guy says that involves hindsight. He is prone to bend the truth a bit to make himself look like a genius.


                          • #14
                            Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

                            LOL at him saying he thinks he could have made it work with both Manning and Luck and the salary situation...yeah right. Every time he opens his mouth now he makes you wonder more and more how he ever won.


                            • #15
                              Re: Polian wanted to keep Manning and draft Luck

                              Keeping both was never an option, as has been well said already. The only options were trading the pick and loading up on a bunch of young assets, or drafting Luck. Neither answer was wrong. The Colts were really in a win-win situation, with the only wrong answer being keep Manning and draft Luck.