If Polian is lucky, he’s the luckiest SOB I’ve ever seen. He let James go in 2006, replaced him with rookie Joseph Addai, and the Colts rolled on. Polian also reached at the No. 11 pick in 2002 for a small defensive end out of Syracuse, and Dwight Freeney is headed for the Hall of Fame. In 2003, Polian took an even smaller defensive end out of Alabama A&M in the fifth round, and Robert Mathis has matched Freeney sack for sack. Size doesn’t matter to Polian, who saw the NFL giant in miniature Iowa safety Bob Sanders in the 2004 second round. The leading tacklers on the 2009 Colts? Tiny linebackers Gary Brackett and Clint Session.
This Colts team, by the way, is the first one built entirely by Polian. Marvin Harrison was the last link to previous leadership, and he left after last season. Polian was prepared, having picked Pierre Garcon of Division III Mount Union in the sixth round of 2008 and Austin Collie of BYU in the fourth round of 2009.
Polian is a modern-day Midas. His coaching hires have been golden, from Buffalo’s Levy to Carolina’s Dom Capers — remember: 1996 NFC title game — to Mora, Tony Dungy and now Jim Caldwell with the Colts. His draft picks pan out. He also finds gold among the mudslide of undrafted college players, signing the likes of Brackett and Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, and even found longtime contributors like cornerback Nick Harper and kicker Mike Vanderjagt in the Canadian Football League.
Oh — right. Canada. Did I mention that Polian was in the CFL in the 1980s, and he led Montreal and Winnipeg to the Grey Cup?