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Colts' Polian needs to chill out

Michael Silver
Yahoo Sports

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By all measures, Bill Polian is a highly successful man. The Indianapolis Colts' team president has his franchise in the Super Bowl for the second time in four years, and he has been a consistent winner while running the show in Indy, Carolina and Buffalo.

So why is the guy so grumpy?

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Polian at training camp in '09.
(Michael Conroy/AP Photo)

Earlier this week, while he should have been celebrating the Colts' AFC championship game victory over the New York Jets, Polian started whining about the league's new Pro Bowl policy. Specifically, Polian didn't like the fact that, with the game set to take place in Miami exactly a week before Super Sunday, the NFL is insisting that players from the Colts and Saints show up at the event, do some pregame interviews and wave to the 70,000-plus fans.

"It's stupid," Polian told 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis. "If it weren't for the Pro Bowl disruption, they would have the weekend off, but they can't because we have to send those players to Miami to do Lord knows what. We'll come back and practice on Sunday and the Pro Bowl players will go and do whatever they have to do and then the team will leave on Monday."

Later, foxsports.com's Alex Marvez reported that Polian, in order to prove his point, planned to force Peyton Manning(notes) and the Colts' six other Pro Bowl selections to leave the game at halftime and Mark Sanchez's(notes) 2009 NFL draft weekend has someone concocted such a senseless and fuel-inefficient plan.

Then a story broke that the Colts' players might rebel against the edict and refuse to show up to the Pro Bowl. Mutiny! A subsequent report stated that the league and the team had worked out a compromise involving a private plane – paid for by the league office – and, blessedly, no back-and-forth trip by the players in question.

I'm sure Polian still isn't happy with the revised plan, and I have some advice for him:

Yo, Bill: Take a chill pill and be still.

Look, I like the fact that Polian is willing to speak his mind, even when it's not the politically correct thing to do. And I'm not saying that I completely disagree with him: Playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl has turned the game into a quasi-joke, not that it was ever the most esteemed event in the first place.

But you have to pick your battles, and I'm wondering why Polian is so ticked off in the first place.

Is he upset that Manning and company won't be able to practice with the team on Sunday? If so, why not alter the practice schedule to allow for this?

Is he mad that they won't be on the team plane for the pivotal bonding session that occurs seven days before the game? If so, why not have the whole team fly out on Sunday, something many franchises have done in the past.

Does Polian really think this will have an impact on the team's preparation for Super Bowl XLIV? If so, he's crazy. The Colts had four days to prepare for a game against the Jaguars in December, and they seemed to do just fine in that one. They have 14 days to get ready for the Saints, and coach Jim Caldwell has said he would treat this first week as if Indy were getting ready to play this Sunday.

Is Polian honestly offended by the dog-and-pony spectacle of his players being trotted out for the benefit of the paying customers? If so, he needs a reminder that there's a world outside the 120 yards of grass on which he's obsessively focused, beginning with the realization that the NFL is a thriving business in a wounded economy, and the people who run that business have decided that they want Manning, Drew Brees(notes) and the rest of the Pro Bowl selections on Super Bowl teams in that stadium on Sunday.

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Commissioner Goodell.
(AP Photo)

In other words, Roger Goodell is your daddy, Bill. And Daddy says Peyton has to go to church on Sunday.

This shouldn't be that difficult to grasp, but for people consumed with winning football games at the expense of, you know, everything else in existence, it always is. When you start believing that the normal rules of society don't apply inside the kingdom, it leads to out-of-touch behavior.

It's the same mentality, I suspect, which reportedly compelled Polian to grab a Jets employee and push him up against a stadium wall three years ago.

A similarly skewed state of mind, I believe, possessed Bill Belichick to shove his hand in a photographer's face in '07 – and Belichick's security escort to push an NFL films cameraman to the ground after last November's defeat to the Colts in Indy.

And, on a less angry level, that same attitude inspires coaches routinely to hide injuries – or to lie about them outright – even though the league explicitly prohibits them from doing so. (This rule exists because the NFL wants to reduce the risk of inside information being sold to gamblers.)

There's a big, beautiful world out there beyond the NFL, and as big as the Super Bowl might seem to many of us, it's just a football game that entertains people for a few hours – and then the earth keeps spinning and the next big thing takes place.

Further, as prodigious as the NFL's place in the big, beautiful world might be, the public's undying devotion to pro football is not a birthright. Goodell and his lieutenants are charged with satisfying clients and customers on a level that goes beyond that of winning a given game on a given Sunday – whether that means asking their stars to glad-hand with advertisers, accommodate the media (and the free coverage they provide) or give the fans at the Pro Bowl a visual thrill – and there may be times when their macro-based needs supersede even those of an almighty figure like Polian's.

That brings us to what this is really about: control. Polian is a control freak, and it's killing him that someone else has imposed and kept him from doing what he wants to do the way he wants to do it.

Three years ago Manning, of all people, usurped Polian's authority, decreeing that no family members be allowed on the floor at the team hotel on which players were staying. Interestingly, Polian didn't utter a peep that time, meaning either he was impressed with his quarterback's taskmaster tendencies, or he's smart enough to understand where the organization's real power source lies.

Whatever the case, in the end, he swallowed hard and went with the program. I suggest that this time, as well, he'd be best served by letting it go.

On Sunday, Polian should turn on his TV and give thanks that Goodell isn't making Manning and the other Cotls play in the Pro Bowl. He should take note of the fact that Brees and the other Saints are also being inconvenienced, meaning no one is gaining a competitive advantage for Super Sunday.

Then, on Monday, Polian should lean back in his first-class seat on the team charter, close his eyes and daydream about all the free media coverage declaring him a genius he's sure to get in the week to come.

Either that, or he can fly to D.C. and ride to Miami with me – and I promise I won't even ask him to lie about injuries along the way.

TAKE IT TO THE ATM

Aaron Rodgers(notes) will be named Pro Bowl MVP after helping the NFC to a narrow victory Sunday. … By this time next year – at the latest – Mike Holmgren will be the Cleveland Browns' head coach. … If the Colts defeat the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, the party will still rage harder in New Orleans than in Indy.

PLEASE, BOSS, SEND ME TO …

Washington, D.C., so that I can compete in the Audi Efficiency Challenge, against a field that includes Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne(notes) and ESPN.com's Bill Simmons, to see who can drive a state-of-the-art Q7 SUV to South Florida in the most fuel-efficient manner. The winner gets $20,000, and I plan to collect that check at a gala reception in South Beach next Friday night and present it to a pair of Type I diabetes-related charities. You'll find all the information at my newly created website, ridewithsilver.com, where you'll be able to pledge your support for the cause. Or you can donate directly to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation or the Diabetic Youth Foundation right here. We talked about this on Live Trippin' on Wednesday, and I talked a little trash on this video clip. And be sure to keep up with my progress (the trip began Thursday night, and my co-pilot Dr. Ponzio and I plan to arrive at Sun Life Stadium sometime on Saturday) via Mogotxt, Twitter and Facebook.

LIES, LIES, LIES

1. Al Davis held up the grocery aisle of an Alameda, Calif., Safeway when he spent 45 minutes contemplating the "paper or plastic" decision.

2. Asked to assess the pro potential of a pair of recent Crimson Tide stars, Bengals tackle Andre Smith and draft-eligible defensive tackle Terrence Cody, former Alabama coach Mike Price excitedly yelled, "Roll Tide!"

3. Defense wins championships.

OXYGEN-DEPRIVED THOUGHT FROM ABOVE

As a proud alum of the University of California, I'd rather clean the bathtub than visit a USC fan site. But somebody forwarded me a curious item from SCPlaybook.com that seems to indicate that newly hired football coach Lane Kiffin has already committed a violation. Scott Schrader's Jan. 20 article discussed the school's recruitment of George Farmer, a junior wide receiver at Serra (Gardena, Calif.) High school. Farmer's father, George III, spoke of a phone conversation he'd had with Kiffin earlier that day: "He told me George is going to be the overall No. 1 recruit in the country and they are going to do whatever it takes to sign him. He also said there isn't a better player at any position in their opinion. There were four of them riding in a car and when Lane said we're going to do whatever it takes to get my kid, I heard Coach O [Ed Orgeron] yell in the background, 'Don't worry, we're gonna get him.' "

I have little doubt that Kiffin will do "whatever it takes" to try to get Farmer. Here's the problem, though: According to NCAA rules, coaches cannot call a football prospect until a designated month-and-a-half-long period in the spring of their junior year, beginning April 15 – you know, nearly three months from now. If this is proven to be true, and the NCAA (or Pac-10) acts on the transgression, the Trojans will likely be barred from contacting Farmer for a specified period before being allowed to recruit him again. Some would argue, however, that the damage is already done – and that Kiffin probably understood all of this and figured it was the best way to get a jump on the competition, consequences be damned. Why am I not surprised?

LET'S DO SOME DON JULIO SILVER SHOTS FOR …

Natalie Coughlin, my favorite Dancing Queen and Golden Girl, who was named the world's top female swimmer of the decade by USA Swimming. To borrow from my favorite erratically behaved rapper, I'm gonna let USA Swimming finish, but Coughlin is one of the greatest swimmers of all time. Of all time!

I'm also lining up a big, fat shot for author J.D. Salinger, who died Wednesday after 91 mostly reclusive years. Finally, I'd like to wish a very happy birthday to my father, Steve, and to my mother, Susan (four days later), without whom this shamelessly indulgent shout-out would not have been possible.

THIS WEEK'S PROOF THAT CAL IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

A year ago, after her 37-point performance in a thrilling victory over Stanford, I came up with a new name for Cal guard Alexis Gray-Lawson. Well, Alexis Gray-Awesome was at it again last Saturday in Corvallis, Ore., as the sensational senior scored a school-record 47 points to lead the Bears to a 79-75, double-overtime victory over the Beavers. On Thursday night, Gray-Awesome scored 39 to lead Cal over Arizona, 73-53, the Bears' fifth consecutive victory. On the men's side, Cal won at Arizona State 78-70 to remain alone in first place in the Pac-10. Meanwhile, softball season is almost here, and as those of you who've been reading me for a long time are well aware, that's a glorious development. It's especially true this year now that Diane Ninemire's Golden Bears are back. With a bona fide all-around star in junior Valerie Arioto, a fabulous freshman battery featuring high school teammates Jolene Henderson and Lindsey Ziegenhirt and a No. 11 preseason ranking, look for Cal to make its return to the Women's College World Series about four-and-a-half months from now.

The Cal women's swim team rolled to a 165-134 victory over No. 2 Arizona last Saturday at Spieker Pool and travels to L.A. this weekend to catch some rays and defeat USC and UCLA. Finally, I'm looking forward to the Big Scrum between Cal and Stanford on Saturday – not only because Jack Clark's young lads have outscored the opposition by a 582-9 margin this season, but also to see if the Cardinal have the courage to show up.

YAHOO! SEARCH WORDS OF THE WEEK

McCloughan pool alcohol

ROLLIN' WITH THE ROYALS

The Reading Football Club kept the dream alive, advancing to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory over Burnley at Madejski Stadium last Saturday. The Royals got the game-winner with two minutes remaining when Gylfi Sigurdsson took a nice through ball from Andy Griffin and squeezed home a shot past Burnley keeper Brian Jensen. It was Reading's second consecutive defeat of a Premier League side and set up a Feb. 13 round-of-16 meeting with fellow Championship side West Bromwich Albion at Madejski. Three days after the victory over Burnley, the Royals returned to league play and got smacked around by Sheffield United, losing 3-0 at Bramall Lane. Relegation remains a very real worry as Reading now sits 23rd in the 24-team table, pending Saturday's meeting with Barnsley at Madejski. On Thursday the club announced that interim manager Brian McDermott had earned the gig on a permanent basis. His primary mission: Keep the Royals from falling to League One.

LYRIC-ALTERED SONG DEDICATION OF THE WEEK

The last time we heard from the hypothetical musical mind of Vikings coach Brad Childress, he was singing the praises of a quarterback he'd imported to propel his team to the promised land. Alas, Sage Rosenfels(notes) was upstaged by Brett Favre(notes), who put Chilly and the Vikes on his 40-year-old back and carried them to the brink of the Super Bowl. So why is Chilly feeling so flat? Here's his mournful post-mortem of the season, to the tune of Linkin Park's "In the End".

It starts with one pass
I don't know why
You threw across your body and let it fly
Out of your mind
I designed this rhyme
To explain in due time
All I know
Time is a valuable thing
Watched it fly by through your many mood swings
Watched it count down to regulation's end
The clock was not my friend
We lost the toss
Got a stupid P.I.
Watched the kick fly right through the uprights
I tried not to cry, it's difficult you know
We'll be 9 and 7 if you go
I know you and I had fights and even though I'm right
You blasted me hard
And $18 million in pure gold bullion is consolation for a time when

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
You stood so tall
We got no calls
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

Twelve men, I don't know why
It doesn't even matter whose fault or why
Kid lost his mind
I designed this rhyme, while I sucked on a lime
I tried so hard
In spite of the way you were dissing me
Acting like I was worse than Mike McCarthy
Remembering all the times you spit on me
I'm surprised it got so (far)
Things aren't the way they were before
No room in the Escalade for you anymore
Not that you knew me back then
But it all comes back to me (in the end)
You gave everything you had and even when you were bad
I gave you my heart
But just like AD and his fumbling it's devastating when you can't hold on

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
You stood so tall
We got no calls
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

I've put my trust in you
Pushed as far as I can go
We came so close
Want to come back? Just let me know

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
You hit the wall
We got no calls
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

We tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I made great calls
You threw fastballs
But in the end
It doesn't even matter