Much has been made of Bill Polian’s handling of fans and media. His reputation as a secretive, sometimes rude individual has tarnished an otherwise sterling, Hall of Fame career. Phillip B. Wilson’s outstanding piece covers the darker side of Polian:
Most who question why a proven football man was shown the door weren’t on the receiving end of such rude treatment. It goes beyond not liking the media, folks. I couldn’t care less about that, aside from wanting to make the man accountable for the sake of fans who have every right to expect me to know information and share it with them. When Polian disrespected the fans for questioning the infamous Jets sitdown decision in 2009, when he alone (I believe) decided at 14-0 that perfection was a meaningless pursuit, that crossed a line. Don’t insult the people who have spent so much money to give you such a great life. That goes beyond arguing a debatable football decision.
As Irsay said in Monday’s presser, you should listen to the fans. It sure helps to be respectful, if for no other reason in that position than public opinion. You don’t have to do everything they say. There’s truth to an old Polian statement about how a front-office boss who listens to fans’ advice will end up sitting with them. But by listen, I guess I mean at least hear them out, and not just on a screened-caller basis for a radio show to spin half-truths and lies. It never hurts to be polite.
It’s clear that Polian was the architect of a glorious almost-dynasty, a team on the verge of domination but that ultimately settled on being part of the NFL’s lore. His genius is unquestioned and his absence may be felt in the Circle City for decades or mere months depending on the tough choices facing Jim Irsay. Others, like Wilson will always remember the other side of Polian.