TOFA LOA…Until We Meet Again: Troy Polamalu
Troy Polamalu’s retirement marks an end of an era for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a generation of fans. Polamalu, a strong safety, resurrected the Steelers defense making it one not to be reckoned with, like the Steel Curtain did from the 1970’s led by “Mean Joe” Green and the rest of the Steelers defensive front four.
But don’t cry because its over Pittsburgh Steeler fans, smile because it happened.
Polamalu has nothing more to prove (not that he ever did). The 12 year veteran has had 32 career interceptions, 5 defensive touchdowns, 14 forced fumbles and 12 sacks. He was an 8 time pro-bowler, 5 time All-Pro, 2010 Defensive Player of the Year, 3 AFC Championship Titles and won 2 Super Bowl Championship Titles (XL, XLIII). No one understands Polamalu’s impact more than coach Mike Tomlin:
“He’s one of those once-in-a-generation type of guy, man. He’s a different guy. The way he views the game is different. The way he plays the game is different. He is unique. And I’m sure you’ll see great players in that position in the future, but none will do it quite like he does it.”
Polamalu was a soft spoken individual who kept out of the spotlight off the field, but couldn’t avoid it on the field. He attracted recognition to the safety position like no one else, while becoming a beloved franchise player to not only Pittsburgh fans, but football fans across the league.
And, of course, he brought the move he was known for best, the flying tackle.
The 2014 season had been the hardest for Polamalu. After struggling through several injuries throughout the course of his career, time and the physical demands of the game had taken its toll. Polamalu no longer demonstrated the explosiveness that made him famous. And for the first time since 2007, Polamalu didn’t record a single sack or interception.
There was no question that the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted a younger defense, the question was…what to do with Polamalu? Polamalu said that he struggled with the decision. After all, similar to what J.J. Watt is currently doing for the defensive end position, Polamalu had brought recognition to and was synonymous with the strong safety position.
“I did not seriously consider playing elsewhere. It was just whether I wanted to play…But when I started this process and started to debate whether I should come back or should I play, that was kinda the sign for me to say…’Whoa…if you’re just even debating it maybe you shouldn’t play anymore’ because what I do know about this game is it takes a lot – a lot – of commitment just to be an average player.”
Polamalu’s decision comes with great relief to the Steelers organization. With two years left in Polamalu’s contract, its saves the Steelers $8 million dollars in cap space over the next two years, and allowed the Steelers organization to part ways with the hometown superstar, Polamalu, with honor and decorum.
Polamalu’s decision is an example of his love for the team, the game and his fans.
So what’s next for Polamalu?
First of all, Polamalu wants to be a full time father for a while, as the demands of the NFL were certainly time intensive. Polamalu is the father to seven-year-old Paisios and five-year-old Ephram, and husband to Theodora.
Polamalu and Theodora are religious individuals, Greek Orthodox Christians, and are significantly involved with the church. In fact, Polamalu is seen making a cross after every play (from right to left, in the Eastern Orthodox manner).
The couple also has a charity foundation, The Troy and Theodora Foundation, giving back to the community and helping bring awareness to the Samoan Heritage.
Finally, Polamalu can finally relax and concentrate on his hobbies. In his junior year at USC, Polamalu learned how to play the piano and read music. Yes, that’s really Polamalu playing the piano.
Polamalu’s hobbies also include woodworking, movies and music. That should fill up some time until he decides the next chapter in his life. And from what we know of Polamalu, there are plenty of chapters left to explore.
It’s always a sad affair to see a great player leave the field. We were lucky to have witnessed a once in lifetime player like Polamalu play the game of football. And he’s so much more than just a football player.
He’s a generous man…
In 2013, a Texas A&M lineman, Polo Manukainiu and his younger brother Andrew “Lolo” Uhatafe was killed in a car accident. What did Polamalu do?
Got a quick Troy Polamalu story: CFB player died in an accident. TP's friend asked if I can get a # for the family. I track it down. (PT 1)
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) April 10, 2015
I figured Polamula was gonna send a card. I found out a month later from the person I got the # from TP paid for the entire funeral & more.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) April 10, 2015
He’s a man of conviction…
While at USC, Polamalu was a social science/history major, but he entered the NFL draft in 2003 after his senior year never getting his degree. Taking advantage of the NFL lockout to go back to USC, in 2011, Polamalu walked with 1000 other graduates to receive his degree in history. It had been a long time goal, Polamalu said,
“I decided to finish what I started…it was very important to me personally, but because I want to emphasize the importance of education, and that nothing should supersede it.”
He’s a man with full luxurious head of hair…
Don’t take my word for it. After, Polamalu became the spokesman for Head and Shoulders, he insured his hair for $1 million.
Good Luck to you SIR from all of us at Football Garbage Time!