The rather abrupt Thanksgiving Day announcement that director of football operations Chris Polian has been promoted to general manager and will someday succeed his father, Bill Polian, in overseeing the Indianapolis Colts' front-office operation, represented the latest example of the incredible commitment of owner Jim Irsay to keeping his current management team in place.
"Continuity is important to me," Irsay said in announcing the move, and also the contract extensions (through 2012) of the Polians.
The move also graphically portrays just how dramatically different Irsay is from his late father, former owner Bob Irsay, a man who made changes based on whim and emotion. That Jim Irsay has succeeded despite an often rocky upbringing is obvious to all who know him. That Irsay has positioned himself, purposely or unwittingly, as one of the NFL's most well-intentioned and influential owners is indeed impressive. That he also happens to be a good guy is every bit as gratifying to those who know him well.
Even before the Thursday announcement, it was all but impossible to question Irsay's connection to the Colts and to the city. The retention of Bill and Chris Polian, and the stability for the future that the maneuver represents, is admirable.
Last year, Irsay granted then-assistant head coach Jim Caldwell a raise, and announced that he would succeed Tony Dungy when the head coach stepped down. This spring, Irsay engineered the returns of key aides Tom Moore and Howard Mudd as consultants after both assistants announced they would retire because of significant changes to the NFL's retirement package.
In promoting the younger Polian, Irsay assured that he wouldn't be pirated away by any other club seeking him for a general management position. Chris Polian, 38, had interviewed for several such NFL openings in the past couple of years.
Irsay's next order of business, which probably will come in the offseason, will be a contract extension for Peyton Manning. The deal probably will be the biggest in NFL history, but Irsay has publicly insisted several times that his quarterback will play his entire career in a Colts uniform. And the Indianapolis owner definitely has a terrific track record for backing up such claims with his wallet.