Bears

Who is Bill Polian? Looking at the former NFL executive’s history

Bears

The Chicago Bears are in need of a new head coach and general manager. To complete the search for two pivotal positions, the team is bringing in some outside help.

George McCaskey said on Monday that Bill Polian will be involved in the search for both spots. The longtime NFL executive and former ESPN analyst has tons of football experience in his career, but what will he bring to the table for the Bears?

Here’s a look at Polian’s career and what it could mean for Chicago.

Which teams has Bill Polian worked for?

Polian began his NFL career as a scout for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1978 and stayed in that role until 1982. After short exploits in the United States Football League and Canadian Football League, he joined the Buffalo Bills organization in 1984. He started as a pro personnel director before moving up to general manager in 1986. He spent seven seasons with the Bills, winning NFL Executive of the Year twice (1988 and 1991).

Polian’s next NFL stop was with the Carolina Panthers, who were just starting out as an expansion franchise in 1995. He helped build a team that reached the NFC Championship Game in just its second season, leading to a step up in his next gig.

 

The Indianapolis Colts hired Polian as team president in 1998, a year where the team also had the first pick in the draft. The team selected Peyton Manning in that slot and kicked off over a decade of success. The Colts reached the playoffs nine straight times from 2002 to 2010, which featured a Super Bowl XLI win over the Bears. Polian and his son, Chris, were fired after the Colts finished the 2011 season with a 2-14 record and another No. 1 draft pick.

Overall, Polian spent 32 seasons in the NFL and his teams had five Super Bowl appearances.

Is Bill Polian in the Hall of Fame?

Polian was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015.

What is Bill Polian’s connection to the Chicago Bears?

Polian has been assisting George McCaskey for the last few weeks, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport

Looking further back, the McCaskeys have had high praise of Polian dating back to his days with the Bills and Colts. Polian was among the expected targets for the Bears’ GM search after they fired Jerry Angelo in 2012.

What is Bill Polian’s book?

McCaskey brought up Polian’s book several times during Monday’s press conference.

Polian and Vic Carucci released “Super Bowl Blueprints: Hall of Famers Reveal the Keys to Football’s Greatest Dynasties” in November. The duo also wrote “The Game Plan: The Art of Building a Winning Football Team,” which included a foreword from Manning, back in 2014.

What did Bill Polian say about Lamar Jackson?

One of Polian’s most infamous takes came in 2018 when he said that Lamar Jackson should become a wide receiver instead of sticking with quarterback at the NFL level.

“Short and a little bit slight,” Polian said of Jackson, who was coming off a Heisman-winning season at Louisville. “Clearly, clearly not the thrower that the other guys are. The accuracy isn’t there.”

 

When drawing parallels, Polian said that Jackson was a similar athlete to Antonio Brown and implored Jackson not to follow in the path of QB-turned-receiver Terrelle Pryor.

“Don’t wait to make the change,” he said. “Don’t be like the kid from Ohio State and be 29 when you make the change.”

While Polian has since acknowledged he was wrong in his assessment, his comments certainly raise eyebrows considering who the Bears have at quarterback right now. Justin Fields had an up-and-down first year after being drafted No. 11 overall in the 2021 draft, but he showed flashes with both his arm and legs during his rookie season.