Polian told The Associated Press he has elected to stay in broadcasting after informing Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula of his decision on Thursday. His decision followed several discussions with the Pegulas, who had gauged Polian’s interest in filling a newly created role overseeing the team’s football operations.
ESPN, for whom Polian works, first reported the development. Polian’s announcement comes a day after Bills head coach Doug Marrone left the team by exercising the opt-out clause in his contract.
The Bills are coming off a 9-7 season, their best finish in 10 years. Yet, they still missed the playoffs to extend the NFL’s longest active postseason drought to 15 years.
The Pegulas, who also own the NHL Buffalo Sabres, are new to the NFL. They bought the Bills for a league-record $1.4 billion in October after Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson died in March. The Pegulas turned to Polian in a bid to add a veteran presence to steer the team’s development.
With Polian out of the picture, their top priority is finding a coach, in what becomes the Bills’ sixth head-coaching search since Wade Phillips was fired after the 2000 season. Marrone, now free to find another job, stepped down after a 15-17 record over two seasons.
It’s unclear whether the Pegulas will seek outside advice during the coaching search, or rely on team president Russ Brandon and general manager Doug Whaley to identify candidates.
At 72, Polian has been working as an NFL TV and radio analyst (with SiriusXM) since 2012, after being fired from his position as Indianapolis Colts president. Polian is a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist this year and six-time NFL executive of the year. He first established his reputation as an NFL architect with the Bills from 1984-93.
He spent two seasons as Bills pro personnel director before being promoted to general manager. It was in this role that Polian built a star-studded, Marv Levy-coached and Jim Kelly-quarterbacked team that won four consecutive AFC championships – but lost all four Super Bowl appearances – and produced six Hall of Famers.
Polian was fired after the 1993 season, and eventually spent four seasons as GM of the NFL-expansion Carolina Panthers before joining the Colts. Both of those franchises made the Super Bowl under Polian.