ProFootball Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Troy Polamalu

Wanda Wiedman,
NFL Reporter

By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is filled with Bears, Eagles, Colts, Lions, and Buffalo(es) to just name a few. But there is only one Tasmanian Devil who will enter the coveted Hall in Canton – Pittsburgh Steeler strong safety Troy Polamalu.

The incredibly soft-spoken and humble safety was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of the University of Southern California. However, Polamalu originally was a dual player who played as a running back out of high school, rushing for 1,040 yards and 22 touchdowns and a defensive player with 65 tackles and eight interceptions.

The Steelers believed that Polamalu could make an immediate impact on the team so much so that they were willing to trade up for him from the 27th pick to the 16th pick. It was evident that they got the top safety off the board that year. Polamalu spent his rookie season as the backup safety making the most of that time with 38 tackles, 30 of them solo.

Throughout his 12-year career with the Steelers, Polamalu won two Super Bowl rings, participated in eight Pro Bowls, was First-Team All-Pro four times and was named NFL Defensive Player in 2010. He was so fun to watch, as he would appear out of nowhere flying across the field to tackle a player. It was this kind of tornado-like style that garnered him the nickname “the Tasmanian Devil”. It was impossible to miss him with his curly hair flowing from the back of his helmet.

As a matter of fact, his hair became the spokesperson for Head and Shoulders for a while and, according to the Guinness World Book of Records, had the highest insured hair. You can probably say that he was head and shoulders above the rest of the safeties in that modern era.

Polamalu had a career total of 770 tackles, 576 of those were solo tackles. He also had a career total of 12 quarterback sacks, 100 passes deflected, 32 interceptions, and three touchdowns.

His love of the game and his teammates was evident every time he stepped on the field. In 2013 against the Tennessee Titans, Polamalu timed a snap so well that he was able to run between the center and guard to hit QB Jake Locker for a sack. The timing was amazing and is a testament to his study of film and knowledge of the game.

During the 2011 NFL Lockout, Polamalu used that time to complete his studies at USC and received a BA in history. He continued to play at a high level for his remaining years with the Steelers but chose to retire in 2015 to spend more time with his family. In an effort to keep the love of football alive after retirement, Polamalu ventured out in 2018 as Head of Player Relations for the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.

Polamalu said in a tearful statement, surrounded by his two boys that he was honored and felt unworthy to receive such an honor.

Welcome to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Troy Polamalu!

 

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