ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – When he took charge of a Bills team that had won only four times over their previous two seasons, Bill Polian was confident they would one day achieve success.
His dreams quickly became reality.
Polian, the architect of the Bills' glory years when the team won four straight AFC championships in the early 1990s, became the 28th member of the Bills' Wall of Fame on Sunday in a ceremony at halftime of their game against the Tennessee Titans.
"We talked about (the Super Bowl) almost from Day 1," Polian said. "That was our goal. So we weren't surprised when we got there. We reached our goal, but didn't quite finish the job. But no one else is ever going to go to four Super Bowls again. It was truly one of the greatest teams in the history of the NFL."
Hired in 1986, Polian was the Bills' general manager for seven seasons. In one of his first moves, he was able to convince quarterback Jim Kelly to sign with the Bills to start the '86 season after Kelly had played three seasons in the USFL. He then hired coach Marv Levy midway through the 1986 season.
From there, Polian molded a team that featured Hall of Famers Bruce Smith and Thurman Thomas, as well as stalwarts such as receiver Andre Reed and linebacker Darryl Talley. The Bills played in five AFC championships in six years, and went to four consecutive Super Bowls.
"They were a great and unique team," Polian said. "To have the resiliency to come back after you're defeated in the biggest game of the year, and the biggest game of your life, and to be able to bounce back and do what they did speaks volumes about what Marv taught them, and what they are as people."
Levy came to Sunday's game to show his support for Polian, who was the NFL executive of the year twice during his Buffalo tenure.
Polian eventually did win a Super Bowl when he was president of the Indianapolis Colts, but acknowledged that being honored by the Bills ranks higher in his mind.
"This is right at the top," he said. "You learn as you go through a long career that the accolades and the rings and the trophies don't mean much. In the end, what you're left with is the experiences, the friendships, and the memories ... and I wouldn't trade my time here for anything in the world."