There are just some people that you’re always grateful to hear from, especially those from whom you do not get to hear frequently. For Pittsburgh Steelers fans, one such person is surely Troy Polamalu, the great Hall of Fame safety who lives a fairly private life and gives scarce interviews.
He did, however, recently make an appearance on the Tiki and Tierney Show yesterday to discuss a number of topics, unsurprisingly, including the state of his former team, with the Steelers out to a 3-0 start in this, Mike Tomlin’s 14th season as head coach.
Polamalu was drafted in the latter stages of Bill Cowher’s tenure as head coach, and his defensive play would help get the Chin over the Super Bowl hump in 2005, but he spent most of his career under Tomlin up to his retirement half a decade ago. He was asked to reflect on his time with these coaches.
“For me, my whole 12 years was a tremendous experience”, he said. “I had Coach LeBeau for 11 of my 12 years. An absolute Hall of Fame player, a Hall of Fame coach. The same with Coach Cowher. I think everybody within the organization knew how special Coach Cowher was and that he’d be in the Hall of Fame as well”.
“But then for Coach Tomlin to come in under different circumstances, following Chuck Noll, following Coach Cowher, both Hall of Fame coaches”, he went on, “and truly to watch the development of another Hall of Fame coach, it was really a blessing for me to see that development from him coming in his first year, second year winning the Super Bowl, and then I think his fourth year going to another Super Bowl”.
The Steelers had great success during the Polamalu years under Tomlin, as mentioned, which included two Super Bowl appearances and one victory. In fact, Polamalu’s injuries often coincided with some of their lower moments, such as the tanking at the end of the 2009 season.
“Just to see the continuation of success really is about his message and how he preaches to the team”, he said of Tomlin, “and it’s a consistent message of excellence, of maintaining the standard. It’s been a huge blessing for me to play under both coaches”.
To little surprise, Polamalu admitted that he doesn’t spend much time watching football anymore—in fact, he said that he didn’t really grow up watching the game and always preferred simply playing it on his own—but he is still following the Steelers and rooting for them.
Later on this season, Pittsburgh will recognize Polamalu formally as one of the greatest members ever associated with the organization by naming him to the Hall of Honor. It’s fitting that he was also named as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in the same year—even if he is still waiting on enshrinement. But as he showed above, he is also a Hall of Fame person.