Bill Polian: Buffalo’s GM

You think some Sabres fans can’t get over Daniel Briere?

Meet the Bills version of Danny Boy…Bill Polian.

For almost 20 years, you couldn’t go far away from the pulse of Bills fans without hearing them wish for Bill Polian to return. Polian resembled some sort of prodigal son who was exiled by King Ralph (Wilson) when things seemed to be at their finest for the franchise. I remember when he was canned in 1993, I really didn’t have the words to describe it. It was like…HUH? WHY? Rumors from Ralph’s daughter to Polian’s temper were reasons for the deterioration of the relationship.

Some fans have never been able to get over it as they have dreamed that he would one day come back with an army of new players to take back the kingdom. Well, fans are getting their wish…

kind of.

Polian is returning to Buffalo to become the 28th member of the Bills’ Wall of Fame. How fitting when you consider that he was the main architect for building those walls during the late 80s/early 90′s.

Like an employer who seems to want to hire an employee who resembles them, Buffalo fans want their athletes to be a mirror image of themselves. Jim Kelly was the city’s perfect QB with his blue collar attitude and fiery demeanor. Hollywood couldn’t devise a better screenplay for a Buffalo athlete. You could probably say the same thing about Polian.

He was our Buffalo GM.

Yes, when building your all-time blue collar Buffalo team, as much as it pains me to say it (Sarcasm), Dary Regier or John Muckler aren’t making the list. Sure, being the architect of Super Bowl teams will help surge your popularity, but I think what fans loved about Polian was his attitude. He didn’t seem like your corporate GM with a suit and tie that we see throughout the NFL.

This was a guy who wore his emotions on his sleeve with his fiery Irish temper and his “Not taking sh#$” attitude. He famously told the fans and media to “get out of town” if they didn’t want to back Jim Kelly during the 1989 season. He never found a microphone he didn’t like with voicing his opinions, which was probably the main reason why he had his own TV show, The Bill Polian Press Conference (Loved the intro music).

If you’ve read some Bills books in the past, you’ll hear the story about how heated negotiations got between Jim Kelly’s agent and Polian in 1986:

Polian and the agent for Jim Kelly were in a room hammering out details for Kelly’s contract. The agent pushed Polian to give Kelly more money due to what the agent believed was a horrible offensive line that could get Kelly injured. Polian tired of the bashing of a line he had constructed. Polian interrupted the agent and sprung into a three-point stance. He challenged the agent to do the same. C’mon, show me, Polian said. Show me how much you really know about line play. The agent backed down.

Um, yeah. I don’t think you can get away with that this day and age in a corporate office. Seriously, I love that story. I can picture Polian getting red/purple in the face with anger.

You always hear the term “Buffalo Guy” thrown around a lot in WNY. JP Losman was a “Buffalo Guy”, so was Donte Whitner. It was probably all BS and just fans/media members trying to reach when describing an athlete. I can say unequivocally that Polian was a “Buffalo Guy.” Like us, he didn’t like criticism and when he heard it, he’d fight you for it. He’d even get into a three-point stance to prove it. Sure, he made his share of mistakes, but he also learned from them. More importantly, he loved us and if you love WNY, you’ll never go wrong in this town.  He would never shy away with talking about how much he loved being in Buffalo and how much the team and fans meant to him.

You never hear him talking about the Carolina fans, do you?


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The Lord of Buffalo Wins