Bob Kravitz spoke to two general managers who know a thing or two about releasing a Hall of Famer. Carmen Policy decided to cut bait with Joe Montana, who served his exile in Kansas City, and go with Steve Young while Peter Pockington sent Wayne Gretzky packing from his beloved Edmonton Oilers. Both men say it was the right decision:
“And that’s the thing: You have to separate the emotion from the equation. It took me a long time to do that because I loved Wayne Gretzky. Everybody loved Wayne. Not just Edmonton but the entire country. But in the end, you have to do the best thing for the franchise.”
Policy knows what Irsay is experiencing because he went through it, and he saw his team’s owner, Eddie DeBartolo, go through it. Irsay is ready to make a wildly unpopular, unsentimental move; the right move, the only move, but one that will forever cast him as “the man who cut Peyton Manning.”
“I don’t think people understand fully how much emotional turmoil is created by these kinds of potential departures,” Policy said. “I mean, Joe Montana was the heart, the soul, the substance and the form of our team. All of us loved him. Our owner, I thought he was going to die of a broken heart. It got so bad, even Joe couldn’t tell Eddie to his face when Joe went back to meet with him to tell him he’d been traded and was leaving. To his credit, Joe understood and handled it like a complete gentleman.