Colts Fire Polians

Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, left, talks with team president Bill Polian before the start of the NFL Super Bowl XLIV football game between the Colts and New Orleans Saints in Miami, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, left, talks with team president Bill Polian before the start of the NFL Super Bowl XLIV football game between the Colts and New Orleans Saints in Miami, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (AP)
Posted: January 03, 2012

CLEANING out the Colts front office may be only the start of the changes in Indianapolis.

Team owner Jim Irsay fired team vice chairman Bill Polian and his son, Chris, the Colts' general manager yesterday.

He said there was a good chance coach Jim Caldwell will be back next season, but his evaluation was not over.

He also said he must decide whether a healthy Peyton Manning and a new quarterback can coexist in the same locker room, and which veteran free agents come back next year.

Manning told ESPN that he was "stunned" by the news.

Irsay said yesterday that he felt it was "time for a change."

"Bill had entered a role where he was less involved, but still quite a bit involved because of the lockout and Peyton's injury and the losing streak," Irsay said. "He was around a lot more than he probably anticipated or I did. But it really was a question about both situations. I thought that it was time to change the personnel department on the football side of things that wasn't involved with the coaching."

Bill Polian declined to comment when the Associated Press contacted him by phone, but did issue a statement.

"I'm grateful for all the support the fans have shown us in good times and bad," Polian said. "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."

The Colts lost their first 13 games and finished 2-14.

Bill Polian, who has been with the Colts since 1998, has repeatedly said he should be blamed if there was a talent deficiency.

Chris Polian, who was named the team's GM 4 years ago but didn't start making the day-to-day decisions until this season, got caught in the crossfire. He was seen leaving the team complex yesterday afternoon, just about the time word leaked of the firings.

Noteworthy * 

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said the team plans to re-sign quarterback Alex Smith beyond this season. Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick out of Utah, received a $4.9 million, 1-year contract as a free agent in July after the lockout. The 49ers won the NFL West with a 13-3 record and are the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC.

* A person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press that Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall has a torn ACL in his right knee and is out for the entire postseason. Mendenhall hurt the knee while being tackled late in the first quarter of Sunday's win over Cleveland. Second-year back Isaac Redman and rookie John Clay will fill in when the Steelers face Denver in an AFC wild-card game on Sunday.

* St. Louis cornerback Ron Bartell, who sustained a season-ending neck injury in the opener, said he expects to play next season. Bartell, the team's top coverage corner, said doctors told him there's no extra risk in playing again. He fractured two bones in his neck in a season-opening loss to the Eagles.

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