A few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of Troy Polamalu officially announcing his retirement from the NFL after a long career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only team he had ever played for in the NFL, and whom he helped go to three Super Bowls, winning two of them.
It was a career that proved to be one of the greats of all time, which culminated in his being selected on the first ballot to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this year—assuming that enshrinement is going to be able to go on as scheduled, several months from now.
Polamalu was a remarkable talent on the field to whom one’s eyes would be drawn, simply because he was that unique piece on the field who might seem that he is doing is own thing. Of course, he always knew what he was doing, even if his plans didn’t always work out.
He was, and remains, the favorite player of many in Pittsburgh, and even more broadly speaking. He was the favorite of one of the newest Steelers as well, Chris Wormley, whom the team recently acquired via trade—from the Baltimore Ravens, of all teams.
Having been open about the fact that he grew up a Steelers fan, even during the pre-draft process, he also recently told The Fan that Polamalu was the reason that he wore the number 43 jersey throughout his football career before arriving in the NFL. In the league, defensive linemen are ineligible to wear a jersey numbered in the 40s. plus, in Pittsburgh, nobody may ever wear a 43 jersey again.
“My favorite player of all time is Troy Polamalu”, he told his hosts. “I grew up a Steelers fan, so I had his jersey. I wore 43 in college because that was my favorite number growing up. Wore it in elementary school because of Troy. He was a big influence in my football-playing career. Obviously I never played safety, but just his intensity on the field, the way he played, how seriously he took the game, I admired that a lot”.
Wormley, an Ohio native, went to college at Michigan, where he had a productive career that saw him named a second-team All-American in 2016, and helped get him drafted early in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Ravens.
The Steelers were interested in Wormley that year, but they used their first two picks on T.J. Watt and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and their third-round pick wasn’t until later. They would eventually use their natural third-round pick on Cameron Sutton, and also picked up James Conner in the compensatory portion of the round.
He will join a defensive line that just lost Javon Hargrave, but which still hosts Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt as the top billing. He will compete with Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, and Daniel McCullers for a role in the rotation.