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Last Article Written: December 26, 1999

Weather a Factor?  Not So, According to Colts' GM

By Mike Devitt

The original oath of the U.S. Postal Service required that nothing related to the weather -- "neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night" -- could impede its employees from delivering mail in a timely manner.

When it comes to his own employees, Bill Polian is nearly as demanding. Polian, the president of the Indianapolis Colts, who is believed by some pundits to be only slightly younger than the postal system itself, believes that weather is not -- or rather, "should not" -- be a factor in the outcome of a football game.

"It should not. It absolutely should not," Polian said following the Colts' 29-28 victory over the Cleveland Browns. "If you want to be a good team, you've got to go outdoors in December and January and win in the National Football League. Cold weather is not an excuse; it's not a crutch; it's no reason not to play."

Last Sunday's game at Cleveland Browns Stadium was the coldest of the year for the Colts, who play their home games in the climate-controlled comfort of the RCA Dome. At game time, the temperature on the field measured a balmy 28 degrees; when the wind chill factor was included, the temperature dipped to minus two.

Big deal, according to Polian.

"It's cold for the other team too, and they practice indoors at Berea," he said, referring to the Browns, who spend their weekdays practicing at an indoor training facility. "Cold weather is not an issue."

Polian did concede that weather could have an effect on the kicking game, particularly early in the game. Such was the case with the Colts' Hunter Smith, who averaged only 37.2 yards per kick in Cleveland, including punts of 26 and 29 yards in the first half. Last week against the Washington Redskins -- a game played indoors at the RCA Dome -- Smith averaged 51.3 yards on three punts, including a career-best 61-yard punt in the third quarter.

"The ball came off his foot like he was kicking a rock, and I'll bet the thing was as hard as a rock. That happens," Polian said.

Polian also believes that the wind can have an effect on catching and throwing the ball, but that those difficulties can be overcome rather quickly.

"I think the only ball that the wind did anything with might have been what should have been the touchdown to (tight end Ken) Dilger, where the ball sailed on him and got in behind Kenny," Polian said.

As for Peyton Manning's 28-of-44, 283 yard performance?

"Peyton handled it OK. There were a couple balls into the wind where the wind knocked it down, but that's going to happen."

Similar windy conditions are expected for the Colts' final game of the season in Buffalo next Sunday. Having spent nine years as the general manager of the Bills -- not to mention five seasons in Kansas City and two years with the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- Polian is all too familiar with the havoc wind and cold weather can play with the football, especially at frigid Rich Stadium in January.

Still, he believes, playing in bad weather is no reason for playing a bad game. As a result, the Colts will just have to buckle down and play their brand of football no matter what the conditions.

"It can't be a factor," Polian concluded. "It'll be just as cold and just as windy in Buffalo next week … so you just have to adjust to it."

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Mike Devitt is a columnist for AllSports. He can be reached by e-mail at

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