Continued from page 1

Polian fired back at his old boss, saying Irsay had it wrong.

“For one thing, I don’t believe that Baltimore had two at the time that we were fired, all of us, Peyton, me and the rest of the staff, (coach) Jim Caldwell at the end of the `11 season,” Polian said.

He said Irsay was “very upset” after the Colts lost to New Orleans in the 2010 Super Bowl, “and I think it’s pretty telling that getting to the Super Bowl in his mind doesn’t count. And for anyone who is in the game and who has to make that journey from training camp to the Super Bowl, you know that it’s awfully difficult to get there.

“And as John Fox said … if you have one, you count yourself lucky. I’ve had teams that have been to six Super Bowls and won one. I’m not ashamed of that record by any means, and I’m certainly not ashamed of what we did in Indianapolis.”

Manning is 160-70 in the regular season _ joining Brady as the only quarterbacks with 90 more wins than losses _ but is just 9-11 in the playoffs with eight first-round exits.

The Broncos _ who have won 19 of 23 games under Manning, but lost to Baltimore in the playoffs _ visit the Colts on Sunday night in Manning’s first return to Indianapolis since his teary-eyed goodbye news conference alongside Irsay in March 2012.

Manning’s former coach, Tony Dungy, said on a conference call this week that he thinks Irsay wouldn’t have let Manning go had he known Manning would bounce back as he has.

“I can almost guarantee you that if he knew that he was going to be healthy like this and playing this kind of football, in hindsight I don’t think he would’ve done it,” said Dungy, who’s now an NBC football analyst. “But with everything the way it was at that time, with Andrew being there and being available, knowing the scouting report on Andrew and the percentages of Peyton coming back and playing well at that point, it was the right thing to do.”

Irsay defended himself in a string of responses on Twitter on Tuesday night, when he quoted Manning as saying that both he and the owner wanted him to stay in Indianapolis but “circumstances forced our hand.”

He finished with a joke, saying he hopes for old time’s sake that Manning completes some passes to his old teammates such as safety Antoine Bethea.

Fox and Manning meet with the media following Wednesday afternoon’s practice.

___

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org

___

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton