Former Panther GM Bill Polian inducted in Hall of Fame


Bill Polian was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame yesterday. The longtime NFL executive was a key player in the construction of the Buffalo Bills in the early nineties, the Peyton Manning era Indianapolis Colts, and in between those two, Polian helped build the early Carolina Panthers from a thought to a 12-4 playoff team in 1996.

In his speech, Polian spent more time talking about individuals that he worked with than he did talk about cities. The Colts were prominent since they gave Polian his only Super Bowl ring. He did mention Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, the Panthers fans, and former Panthers personnel executive Dom Anile in passing. He praised former Panthers head coach Dom Capers in how he brought together those early Panther teams.

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When Polian got to thanking individual players he thanked Sam Mills, Kerry Collins, John Kasay, Wesley Walls, and Muhsin Muhammad. All of those guys and Capers shared the Capers Region bracket of the Carolina Panthers Twenty Bracket from earlier this summer.

Polian saved his highest praise for Marv Levy, the former Buffalo coach.

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Polian’s tenure with the Panthers is notable for how quickly the Panthers became relevant on the League stage. Two years in saw the Panthers challenging Brett Favre and the Packers for the NFC East. There is no doubt that when Jerry Richardson made the pledge that the Panthers would be in the Super Bowl in ten years, he was thinking it would be a Polian built team that would get there.

That never happened. The Panthers made the Super Bowl in ten years, but with Marty Hurney and John Fox not Bill Polian and Dom Capers. Differrences of opinion and perhaps power led Polian to leave the Panthers for the Indianapolis Colts. He was rewarded with Peyton Manning, eventually Tony Dungy, and finally a Super Bowl of his own after four failures in Buffalo.

You can still hear Polian as an ESPN analyst.

Next: Carolina Panthers Twenty Bracket: Capers Region