Bill Polian has a Super Bowl ring and a bust in Canton. But, evidently that’s not enough. After the former Colts general manager’s recent interview with Sports Illustrated, he seems to be targeting his own wing in the NFL Hall of Fame.
When asked by SI to name the quarterbacks he would have drafted if Peyton Manning had not been a Colt, Polian mentioned Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. He then went on to say something that, to my knowledge, no one else in the history of NFL personnel evaluation has ever said.
According to Pro Football Talk, Polian said, “Tom Brady would have been a guy, and we were very high on him. Our guys really loved him, but we weren’t in the quarterback market, obviously. Those would be the guys I remember us giving solid, first-round, can-lead-you-to-a-championship grades.”
Polian claims that he and his talent evaluators had a first-round grade on Tom Brady, which obviously makes Polian and his guys sound smarter than Belichick and his guys, since the Patriots had nowhere near a first-round grade on Brady.
A lot of time has passed since Tom Brady played college ball, so it bears reminding that Brady wasn’t even the full-time starter at the University of Michigan. He split starting duties with dual-sport star Drew Henson. In other words, the Michigan Wolverines, who watched Brady practice every day and knew his strengths and weaknesses far better than any NFL talent evaluators, didn’t even think enough of Brady to make him the outright starter of their football team.
Moreover, Pro Football Talk makes an excellent point about Polian himself. If Polian truly had a first-round grade on Tom Brady, then why didn’t he draft him? Yes, he already had Peyton Manning. However, if you had a first-round grade on a guy, and then saw him drop to the second, third, fourth, fifth, and eventually sixth round, the value at that point commands you as a general manager to make that selection. Even if you only intent to use him as a backup and eventually trade him.
So, while trying to make himself out to be a Nostradamus of hindsight, Polian actually makes himself look incompetent.
What could cause Polian to spin a yarn of this magnitude, seventeen years after the fact? It probably has a lot to do with the Brady-Manning rivalry, a quarterback competition for championships that spanned more than a decade, and defined the NFL for the last fifteen years. More to the point, it probably has to do with the fact that Polian and the Colts came up on the short end of that rivalry.
A bitter pill, forcibly swallowed by Polian and Colts fans every time the Patriots win, reminding them that while the Colts had arguably the best quarterback in football for fourteen years, they were only able to win one Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Brady and the Patriots won four Super Bowls in their first fourteen, added a fifth this past year, and show no signs of slowing down.
It shouldn’t come as a shock that Polian would want to revise that kind of history.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn