The NFL recently approved and confirmed plans to significantly expand the 2020 class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is set to include a total of 20 members, consisting of 10 modern candidates, five senior candidates, and a combination of five coaches and contributors.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have several worthy candidates to make it in through a number of the different categories. Among active players, Alan Faneca has already been a finalist. L.C. Greenwood and Donnie Shell are both deserving senior candidates. And somebody like Bill Nunn would make sense as well. He was nominated in 2007, but didn’t make it, and was also under consideration last year.
And then there’s Troy Polamalu, who is for many of us the greatest player they’ve ever seen play, at least in a Steelers jersey. 2020 will be his first year of eligibility. In spite of the fact that he played at a position in safety that has been historically difficult to gain entry into the Hall, there is a belief that he had a sufficiently large impact on the game and performed at a level that would make him worthy of going in on the first ballot.
Said John Clayton, who has a vote, “I do” think he will get in right away. “It’s tough for safeties to get in but if you’re a game changer like Troy, with all the pro bowls, I think he’s a first-ballot” player.
Frankly, it would be pretty staggering if the Hall of Fame election committee were able to turn up a list of names of 10 modern candidates who were more worthy of and deserving of the honor than Polamalu, who was a crucial part of multiple championship defenses.
Perhaps one of the greatest tributes of his talents is the fact that the Steelers struggled whenever they didn’t have him on the field during that time. Among the most notable would be the 2009 season, where the team fell apart late in the year, going on a five-game losing streak and squandering a 6-2 first-half record.
Over a 12-year career, Polamalu was named to the Pro Bowl eight times and earned All-Pro consideration six times with four of those being on the first team. He was named the Defensive Player of the Year following the 2010 regular season, after which the Steelers advanced to the Super Bowl.
He recorded 770 tackles in his career to go along with 32 interceptions and 12 sacks, with 14 forced fumbles. Late in his career, he transformed into more of a downhill player, even taking on the dimebacker role that has become a popular theme around the league.