HOF Artifact of the Week

HOF Artifact of the Week

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This framed poster from the Carolina Panthers' Inaugural home game in 1995 is autographed by Tim Biakabutuka, Mike McCormack, Kerry Collins, Bill Polian, Dom Capers and Mark Richardson (son of owner Jerry Richardson).

The poster belonged to Bill Polian who was the first general manager of the expansion Carolina Panthers. Mike McCormack who was a Hall of Fame tackle with the Cleveland Browns was the Panthers first President. Kerry Collins and Tim Biakabutuka were first round draft choices for the Panthers in 1995 and 1996 respectively. Dom Capers was the Panthers first head coach. In only their second season in the NFL (1996) the Panthers made it the NFC Championship game where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.

Bill Polian spent 32 seasons in the NFL. During this time he earned the reputation of rebuilding franchises into dominant playoff teams. He is most noted for turning around the fortunes of three different teams that included a combined five Super Bowl appearances by the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts.

Polian, who began in the NFL as a scout for the Kansas City Chiefs from (1978-1982), took over as the general manager of the Bills in 1984. He built Buffalo into a powerhouse and led the team to four straight AFC Eastern Division titles from 1988 to 1991 including back-to-back 13-3 records in 1990 and 1991. The Bills also earned three straight Super Bowl berths after winning the AFC championship from 1990-92.

He worked in the NFL office in 1993 and 1994 as the league’s Vice President of Football Development before taking on general manager duties of the expansion Carolina Panthers. In 1998, Polian moved on to the Indianapolis Colts where he served as President/General Manager through 2011. During his tenure, the Colts experienced great success that included eight division crowns and two Super Bowl appearances highlighted by a victory in Super Bowl XLI. With Polian at the helm, the Colts advanced to the postseason 11 times during a 12-season span and posted 10 or wins in each of those playoff years.

Not counting start-up seasons and his final year, Polian’s teams combined for a 0.625 regular season winning percentage. In all, Polian led the Bills to the AFC championship four times, the Panthers once, and the Colts three times. In 2009, he became the only administrator ever to be named the NFL’s Executive of the Year by The Sporting News six times.

Our weekly artifacts and other unique items are featured daily in our docent presentations for visitors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Plan your visit to the Hall to learn more about the collection in our archives.

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