Some of the greatest players, the greatest men, in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization never wanted to be there in the first place—especially back in the late 60s and the 70s. Pittsburgh wasn’t really a booming metropolis that would attract the interests of some of the greatest athletes in the world to strike their fortune and plant their roots.
Troy Polamalu was the latest to acknowledge that, before he learned what the Steelers were all about, he was hoping to avoid finding out. The great safety, who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Steelers’ Hall of Honor classes of 2020, wrote an open letter that he published yesterday on Facebook sharing what it means to him to be a Steeler.
“When I showed up to my first day in my brand new Range Rover because I was a Trojan from LA before I became a Steeler, I never thought Pittsburgh would be my home”, he concluded. “In fact I called my agent Marvin Demoff during my predraft visit to Pittsburgh on a dreary cold and rainy night asking to make sure I never go back. Now, I’m blessed to be in the Hall of Honor, confirmation that enduring the struggles to emulate players before me is worthwhile”.
Drafted 16th overall in the first round of the 2003 NFL draft, Polamalu would go on to have a legendary 12-year career that includes his being a perennial Pro Bowl selection whenever healthy, a two-time Super Bowl champion, and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.
And yet so much of what people know and remember about him is the person that he was, and is, off the field. It’s one of the reasons that you’ll rarely see him in public. He is a modest and humble person who puts family first—one of the reasons he grew to understand and appreciate the ‘Steeler Way’.
“To be a Steeler is to consider others before you consider yourself”, he wrote. “”To protect your brother, even from himself, to give support, even at your expense, when wearing black and gold suit of armor, make sure nobody desecrates or disrespects it, most importantly we ourselves don’t dishonor it. One of the best sayings I’ve ever heard from previous legends who have donned the black and gold is, ‘you could have played with us’”.
There’s so much more that Polamalu wrote, and it’s very well worth taking your time to read. I would imagine that the majority of those who regularly comment here will have already read it when he first posted it, but for those who haven’t, make sure to click through the link and read what he has to say. It’s rare that we get to hear so much from him, after all.