Highly Respected Ex-NFL Exec Calls It Quits, Retires from ESPN


For the second time in two weeks, ESPN has lost a current or future Pro Football Hall of Famer.

First it was Jason Witten, who will certainly be enshrined in Canton one day. Witten left the “Monday Night Football” broadcasting booth after just one season to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys.

This time it’s Bill Polian, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015 for his work as an executive. After working for ESPN since 2012, Polian has decided to retire from the network.

“After talking it over with my family, we decided now is the right time to finish this chapter in my career,” Polian said in a statement published Friday.

“(I)t has been an honor and a pleasure to be your teammate,” he added, referring to his ESPN colleagues. “Over the course of seven seasons, you collectively proved true what I had long heard: Disney really is the happiest place on Earth.”

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Polian was a regular on “NFL Live,” in addition to being featured on various other programs, including “SportsCenter.” He also called NFL games on ESPN Radio and worked the Super Bowl and NFL draft.

Prior to his ESPN career, Polian worked his way up from scout to one of the most successful general managers and team presidents in NFL history.

He served as the Buffalo Bills’ GM from 1986 to 1992, during which time the team made three consecutive Super Bowls appearances.

After being fired following that third straight Super Bowl loss, Polian eventually landed as general manager of the Carolina Panthers for their inaugural 1995 season. During his time with the Panthers, Polian built a team that went to the NFC championship game in 1997.

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Arguably his greatest successes came with the Indianapolis Colts, who hired Polian to be team president and general manager in 1997.

Over his 15 seasons with the franchise, Polian drafted Peyton Manning first overall and guided the team to two Super Bowl appearances, winning one.

Throughout his career, he was named NFL Executive of the Year by The Sporting News six times.

While Polian said he is retiring from ESPN, that doesn’t mean he’s retiring from football as a whole. In fact, it seems like he’ll stay quite busy in his other role.

Polian is a co-founder of the Alliance of American Football, where he officially serves as head of football.

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The AAF doesn’t have an official commissioner role, though Polian’s position no doubts corresponds in many ways with that of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Polian may very well be working with Goodell and/or the NFL in some capacity in the future, as he revealed last week there have been talks between the two leagues about potentially sharing players.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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