Just like most of the football world, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was “stunned” by the firings of vice chairman Bill Polian and his son, Chris, the Colts’ general manager.
“I was stunned, I was surprised, I was saddened and just disappointed that it all happened this way,” Manning told Chris Mortensen of ESPN by telephone. “I was actually meeting with Bill in the training room and we were talking about my rehab schedule, what I could and couldn’t do in the facility under the new (collective bargaining agreement) and my checkpoints when he was summoned to see Irsay. He actually chuckled and said, ‘We’ll see.’ ”
Manning said he and Polian later had a very emotional meeting when the quarterback learned that the man who drafted him with the No. 1 pick in 1998 had been let go.
“Bill and I and Chris Polian has been here the whole time, too, had a great ride with tremendous highs and it makes me very sad that this ends on such a negative note,” said Manning. “I knew when the Colts hired Bill with his track record in Buffalo and Carolina, that I would be very happy to be a part of an organization he ran. And that proved to be true. I knew he would hire the best coaches, provide the best possible surroundings, give me great teammates and he did that and I will be forever indebted to him.”
“I used to think nobody hated losing more than I did or was more miserable after a loss. I decided it was a tie between me and Bill,” Manning said. “And I stay in the building pretty late and he was always here working, too. Personally, my goodness, so many thoughts. He was one of the last guys to leave my wedding with Ashley (his wife). This is very, very tough.”
Bill Polian issued the following statement through the team.
“I’m grateful for all the support the fans have shown us in good times and bad,” Polian said. “Indianapolis has been a wonderful place to live and work. Most of all, I would like to thank the players coaches and staff who have played the pivotal role in this magnificent journey. I will miss them all.”