It was announced on Tuesday that Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu would be the first to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 7. It was later changed to have him inducted 10th. Was that his choice? It wouldn’t be entirely surprising, given the nerves he expressed recently.
Speaking with Clark Judge of the Talk of Fame Network, the legendary safety discussed the mixed emotions that he is feeling now that he is finally on the eve of the big day, the crown jewel of his football legacy—and how important it is that this is for everybody who helped get him to this point.
“Very excited to see my teammates to rehash some great, exciting memories. Nervous for a speech”, he said about his feelings ahead of the event. “Anxious because I want to make sure that the people that have been huge influences on my life (are mentioned). And I do mean a lot of people. Because for someone like me no small thing … no glass of water that someone offered me … was insignificant”.
That is a very Troy Polamalu reaction, and frankly, it wouldn’t be very Polamalu for him to go first, either, even if he is arguably the most significantly player to be going into the Hall of Fame with this particular class as a first-ballot enshrinee.
For somebody who was so accomplished throughout his career, he has sure made it a habit of crediting others for his success, much like a quarterback would do, crediting his offensive line, his receivers, and his defense for making his game possible.
But Polamalu’s response is not out of some sort of duty to leadership roles. It comes from him naturally, as an expression of what he really believes. It’s entirely in keeping with the character of the man that we’ve grown to know over the course of the better part of the past two decades.
For how many of you is Polamalu your favorite player of all time? I’m sure it’s a sizeable percentage, and it’s been well-earned both on and off the field. The fact that he would be bashful upon hearing that is part of the reason people are drawn to him.
“Coming where I came from, that meant a lot”, he said of getting any little help over the years. “And I don’t want to miss out on that. I’m nervous that I don’t give the proper thanks, and people won’t feel the gratitude that I really want to give them. So there’s a lot of mixed emotions going on with that”.
The Hall of Fame is putting limitations on speech length this year, so there won’t be any half-hour-long marathons anymore. Still, no matter how long you speak, it seems inevitable that you’ll manage to forget somebody. It’s just a law of nature.