Buffalo’s 28th Wall of Famer will be former GM Bill Polian. Here’s a look at what we feel are the top 10 moves Polian executed to turn the Bills into the winningest team in the 90’s and four-time AFC Champions.
We preface this list with the following clarifier. Polian was formally appointed GM of the club on Dec. 30, 1985, and was first hired on Aug. 2nd, 1984 as Pro Personnel Director, but he along with Director of College Scouting Norm Pollom were handling GM duties after Terry Bledsoe suffered a heart attack the February before the 1985 draft. So he certainly had a hand in the 1985 draft that included Bruce Smith and Andre Reed, but to attach full weight for those decisions to Polian might be misguided. As such we ‘ve put those player acquisitions a bit lower on the list than some might expect. But here are the best moves put together by the only six-time NFL Executive of the Year.
10 - Drafting Wil Wolford – Rd. 1 – 1986 – Wolford was the blind side protector needed for Buffalo’s offense to take a needed step forward.
9 - Drafting Howard Ballard – Rd. 11 – 1987 – The 11th rounder was two-time Pro Bowler and anchored the Bills right side.
8 - Claiming Steve Tasker off waivers – 1986 – Claiming Tasker gave Buffalo perhaps the best special teamer in the history of the NFL.
7 – Signing Kent Hull – 1986 – Polian signed Hull away from the folding USFL and had Jim Kelly’s security blanket for 10 seasons.
6 - Drafting Andre Reed – Rd. 4 – 1985 – Reed became the team’s all-time leading WR and likely Hall of Famer.
5 - Drafting Bruce Smith – Rd. 1 – 1985 – The all-time leader in sacks was a terror off the edge and linchpin of Buffalo’s Super Bowl defenses.
4 - Hiring Marv Levy – 1986 – Polian crossed paths with Levy in KC and the CFL and knew he could manage the club’s big personalities.
3 - Drafting Thurman Thomas – Rd. 2 – 1988 – The value in selecting the Hall of Fame RB is tough to beat as he was the engine of the 90’s offenses.
2 - Trading for Cornelius Bennett – 1987 – Called the trade of the decade by the NY Times, it was the most complicated and cunning moves of his tenure as Bills GM with three teams involved along with a former first-round pick in Greg Bell and Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson. More importantly it made the Buffalo front seven one of the most feared in football.
1 - Getting Jim Kelly signed – 1986 – Kelly was more than staunch in his stance that he would not play for the Bills even with the USFL struggling to stay afloat. Polian’s unrelenting negotiating tactics eventually got the deal done and put Buffalo in a position to be a successful franchise for a decade.
Think we forgot a big move, draft choice or player acquisition? Feel free to make your suggestions.
Tags: Bill Polian, Bills Wall of Fame
Posted in Inside the Bills
Former Bills GM and current Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian issued the following statement on the passing of Kent Hull.
“It is a very sad day for those of us with the Colts who were privileged to have Kent Hull as a team mate and friend. His physical toughness, work ethic, intelligence, character and sense of humor made him an undisputed leader on a team filled with Hall of Famers and stars. He was a rock upon which those great Buffalo Bills offensive lines were built. Inside the Bills organization and locker room his leadership was acknowledged, respected and followed by one and all. Kent Hull with relatively few words, but indomitable spirit and consistently excellent deeds, epitomized what made his Bills teams great. He was a fine man, a good friend and a true professional.
Jim Irsay and the Irsay Family join all Kent’s’ friends with the Colts in sending out thoughts prayers and deepest sympathy to Kay Hull and every member of the Hull Family.”
Tags: Bill Polian, Kent Hull
Posted in Inside the Bills
Bills Wall of Famer Darryl Talley isn’t just here visiting the Bills at training camp. He’s interested in a career in coaching and asked head coach Chan Gailey if he could come up to camp and observe things for a week.
Coach Gailey obliged and Talley will be here this week to soak it all up and take it all in interacting with the coaching staff as well as some of the players. Talley said right after he retired there were opportunities for him to coach in the league, but with two very young daughters he wanted to raise his kids.
When his kids were older he felt he was ready to coach. Bill Polian tried to set up a meeting with Bill Walsh for Talley. Walsh at the time was prepping Mike Singletary for a coaching career. Not long after Walsh fell ill and eventually passed.
Now with both of his daughters out of high school he’s ready to “give back to the game he loves.”
When asked what he would bring to the table as a coach he said the following.
“I think I bring a different set of tools in my box,” he said. “For one I’ve been there and I’ve done that. Sometimes there are people that aren’t very good coaches, but I’ve proven that just by the standard I held my teammates to when I was here. The idea of what it means to be a pro. How to be a pro. You can have a lot of money and still not have an idea of what you’re supposed to be doing as far as responsibility to your parents and family and to your fans. Some people can run amok and some people don’t. There’s a fine line you have to walk and you have to make guys understand that.”
Tags: Bill Polian, Bill Walsh, Darryl Talley, Mike Singletary
Posted in Inside the Bills