Irsay, Polian, Dungy to be Inducted into Indiana SHall of Fame
INDIANAPOLIS – Together, they have built the Colts into an NFL power, and together, Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay, President Bill Polian and Head Coach Tony Dungy brought Indiana its first Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Together, they will enter the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
Irsay, Polian and Dungy will enter the Hall as part of the Class of 2008, the club and the Indiana Football Hall of Fame announced Saturday.
"The success they've had, starting with Mr. Irsay, and being able to bring the type of people they have brought in to Indiana, made them an easy choice," Indiana Football Hall of Fame President Richard Bryant said recently.
Irsay, who assumed ownership of the Colts in January 1997, was named Vice President and General Manager in 1984 when the team moved to Indianapolis. He served in that capacity until taking the role of Senior Executive Vice President, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer in April of 1996.
"I'm honored to be included in what will ultimately become Indiana's football history and appreciate the recognition for myself and our team," Irsay said.
Irsay, who assumed full control of the team upon the death of his father, Robert Irsay, is an active owner, chairing the NFL's Legislative Committee, as well as serving on the league's Finance Committee and Super Bowl Policy Committee.
He has also served on the Executive Committee of the Management Council and the Pro-College Relations Committee and was a member of the Realignment Working Group and the Working Club Executive Committee that authored the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement in 1993.
He and his family are generous contributors to many organizations throughout the Indiana.
Polian, in 20 seasons as an NFL general manager or president with Indianapolis, Carolina and Buffalo, has helped direct teams to 14 playoff, seven conference championship game and four Super Bowl appearances, while winning a World Championship.
His teams have earned a combined regular-season record of 202-133 and he has been part of eleven seasons with 11 or more victories.
"This is a tremendous honor in which I share with two great men in Jim Irsay and Tony Dungy gaining induction into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame," Polian said. "I'm very humbled knowing we've received such an accolade for doing what we truly love collectively for the state of Indiana."
After serving as a pro scout for Kansas City in 1978, Polian helped build Grey Cup title teams with Montreal and Winnipeg of the Canadian Football League before serving with the Chicago Blitz of the United States Football League in 1984.
Polian joined Buffalo in 1984 and was promoted to general manager in December 1985. The Bills reached Super Bowls XXV, XXVI and XXVII during his tenure, then added a fourth Super Bowl in 1993. Polian worked in the NFL Office in 1993 before joining Carolina, his last position before joining the Colts in December of 1997.
Polian serves as a member of the NFL Competition Committee, Diversity Committee, Management Council Senior Executive Committee and is Chairman of the College Relations Committee. He presented former Buffalo Head Coach Marv Levy at his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 2001.
Dungy, entering his seventh season with the Colts, has a 136-74 overall record in 12 years as head coach with Indianapolis and Tampa Bay. He has taken 10 of 12 teams to the playoffs, including his last nine (1999-2007), tying former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Tom Landry for the most consecutive playoff appearances by a head coach since the 1970 NFL Merger.
"I am very pleased to be inducted with Jim Irsay and Bill Polian into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame," Dungy said. "I thank the Hall for this outstanding honor. We are mindful that the honor recognizes the organization on and off the field. We know we represent the state of Indiana in all of our actions, and we are grateful to be recognized in this manner."
Dungy became the first African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl, and is the first coach to beat all 32 NFL teams.
Since 1999, the Colts have made more playoff appearances – eight – than any NFL team, and they have the NFL's best regular-season record during that span. On February 4, 2007, the Colts won their first Super Bowl title in 36 years and the first in Indiana's history.
The Colts' five consecutive seasons with 12 or more victories from 2003-2007 are an NFL record, and their six consecutive seasons with 10 or more victories is the third-longest such streak in NFL history. The Colts also have won a franchise-record five consecutive AFC South titles in the last five seasons.
The Colts have started the last three seasons 13-0, 9-0 and 7-0, becoming the only team in NFL history open consecutive seasons with 9-0 starts and the first team in 76 years to open three consecutive seasons 7-0. The 2005 team set the club seasonal record with 14 victories and the 63 regular-season victories from 2003-2007 are the second-highest total over any five-year span in NFL history.
"They win with character people," said Bryant, a high school football coach in Indiana for 27 years. "It helps set the standard not just for high school kids, but for kids playing college football. What kind of person do you want to be? What are your standards as a college athlete? When you look to professionals who are the role models like we have in our Colts, I think that helps everybody.
"It helps college coaches get their job done, and to motivate and help their young men. I know it helps us in the high school arena in the fact you can look at them and say, 'This is the type of people Indiana wants to represent us.'''