INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - With the most dismal season in recent memory finally over, the Colts leadership began the new year with tough decisions to make. Monday evening, owner Jim Irsay announced a management shakeup, and hinted that more changes could come later.
Bill and Chris Polian , the team's vice chairman and general manager, respectively, have been ousted, Irsay confirmed at a news conference Monday evening.
Sunday night, team owner Jim Irsay tweeted : "The season has ended and the heavy lifting begins to restore The Horseshoe to Greatness...it takes what it takes...."
He reiterated that at the news conference, saying it was a tough call to make, but sentimentality could have no place in the decisions he had to undertake to make the team as strong as it could be.
"It's a new era," Irsay said. "We're moving into exciting times by my estimation."
Bill Polian released a statement after the announcement, saying: "I'm grateful for all the support the fans have shown us in good times and bad."
He also thanked Irsay and his family, and he had high praise for the team: "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."
As for head coach Jim Caldwell, Irsay said he would remain in the lead for now, but noted that his role remained under evaluation, and any decision on his status would likely involve the new GM.
Irsay said the search for a new GM would begin immediately, noting he may be making calls as soon as Monday night.
He still had high praise for Bill Polian, who has been with the Colts since 1998. Irsay called him a hall-of-fame-caliber GM and noted that he had a "magical talent" for evaluating players.
ESPN had reported before the news conference that sources told them the Polians were out. That seemed to take some by surprise, including Colts defensive end Robert Mathis, who took to Twitter to say: " whoaaaa !!!!! Bill and Chris Polian fired."
During Bill Polian's tenure, no team has had more playoff appearances than the Colts. His son, Chris, took over the role of GM in 2009, and Bill was named vice chairman.
The Colts finished the season Sunday with a 2-14 record. It was only the second time since the franchise moved to Indianapolis in 1984 that the team managed fewer than three wins. Fans have been clamoring for management changes.
Monday morning, Irsay thanked fans via Twitter , saying "Ur feedback is heard n noted."
The franchise started the offseason quietly with an earlier, almost routine news conference with Caldwell.
"I'm moving forward until otherwise notified," Caldwell said then.
Monday morning, Caldwell said he met with the Polians on Monday for a season wrapup. There were plenty of things that didn't go well during the season, he said, but the players did make him proud.
"They worked hard, they fought, they scratched, they did everything we asked them to do," he said.
He said the injury-laden season wasn't all that unusual, but the team "just didn't adjust quickly enough."
The losing season was tough to deal with, Caldwell said.
"It did not sit well with me. It didn't sit well with anybody in the organization," he said.
While many players expressed strong support for Caldwell, there is no certainty former Pro Bowlers Robert Mathis, Jeff Saturday and Reggie Wayne will be back in 2012. There are also lingering questions about Peyton Manning's health and whether the Colts will use the first overall pick in April's draft on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
Caldwell said the evaluation of players and staff - and of him - will continue for some time, and he said now was not the time to talk about possible draft picks.
"We'll get to that at a more appropriate time," he said.
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