This has been a season of speculation for the Indianapolis Colts and their fans.
From the first week of the 2011 season when the team announced Peyton Manning had yet another neck surgery, throughout the 13-game losing streak, people have wondered about the long-term stability of many of the Colts key decision-makers.
Colts owner Jim Irsay made the first major announcement of what is expected to be a busy off-season when announcing that Bill and Chris Polian would no longer lead the front office.
"We're moving in a different direction in terms of Bill and Chris Polian," announced Irsay during his opening statement at a later afternoon news conference.
"It was a very tough decision for me, had a chance to talk to them both, had a chance to address to them, Bill in particular how hard it was and the appreciation the franchise has for all that has been done by Bill."
"I've always believed it is about timing, it's about energy, it's about what the time calls for," added Irsay before addressing questions before the assembled media.
Throughout the Colts disappointing 2011 season, Jim Irsay spoke in high regard about the job Bill and Chris Polian had done in their time with the Colts. He even lauded Bill and referenced his Hall of Fame career Monday afternoon when announcing his departure.
"Bill has had a magical, very rare talent of evaluating players and having an intuitive feel for greatness. It has been shown in Buffalo, Carolina, and here (Indianapolis) and that's a very big component to have in our business."
However, the more the team continued to lose in 2011 and showed it could not survive without Peyton Manning under center, it appeared major changes were going to take place. Irsay said he made the final decision about the Polians Monday morning.
"There are many, many components that you look at in weighing the positives and negatives and the type of energy and timing that you feel in your gut that is right for your organization. In the end, I think it is an intuitive decision where you feel the time is right to make a change," explained Irsay.
Bill Polian was not available to reporters Monday, but did issue a statement released by the team.
"I would like to thank Jim Irsay and the Irsay family for all they have done for me over the past fourteen years. I'm grateful for all the support the fans have shown us in good times and in bad. Indianapolis has been a wonderful place to live and work. Most of all I would like to thank the players, coaches, and staff who have played the pivotal role in this magnificent journey. I will miss them all."
"Black Monday" is always one with many changes in the NFL for teams who do not advance to the playoffs. The Colts are not accustomed to cleaning out their lockers so early in January, however the players were very realistic in the knowledge that changes were coming following such an unsuccessful campaign.
The big question that will be answered once a new general manager is hired will be in regards to head coach Jim Caldwell.
"In terms of the coaching staff, I met with Jim Caldwell, right now that is still under evaluation," said Irsay. He added that he would like the new general manager to have a role in deciding whether Caldwell returns or if changes are made, but is not locking himself into that scenario.
"Jim Caldwell could very well be back this year, that is a real possibility."
Irsay said the search is now underway for the Polians' replacement. This is a very important next couple of months considering the uncertain future of quarterback Peyton Manning and the fact the Colts own the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
While the next general manager will certainly provide important input to these next major decisions, Irsay re-iterated he has the final say.
"On major issues for the franchise, and it's been this way always since Bill was here from the beginning, that I have final say on them. When it comes to picking a head coach, when it comes to picking a first round draft pick, when it comes to some of those major decisions that ultimately has always been presented to me, 'that this is what we're thinking, it's your call' that is the way it has to be."
Irsay has some important decisions to make. He is officially on the clock with the Colts future at stake.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times