Mike Tomlin has countless great stories. His first meeting with Troy Polamalu is one of them. On this week’s edition of the Mike Tomlin Show with Bob Pompeani, Tomlin was asked about his favorite Pete Carroll story, the coach he’ll be competing against later tonight. Tomlin’s answer involved Carroll and Polamalu.
“I used to travel to LA years ago when I was a secondary coach with the Bucs and Pete Carroll and Monte Kiffin were really good friends,” Tomlins said. “Monte Kiffin was our coordinator and we’d go out to LA and spend a couple of days with Pete talking football and enjoying LA and working to get better. Just giving and sharing information.
“And one particular time was interesting because it was the first time that I met Troy Polamalu. I think Troy maybe was a sophomore at that time. And Coach Carroll was like, ‘Hey, I got to introduce you to this safety, man. He’s he is really going to be special. You guys are going to hear about him in your league.’ That guy was, was Troy Polamalu.”
Carroll’s words rang true. Tomlin was still a member of Tampa Bay’s staff when Pittsburgh traded up for Polamalu in the first round of the 2003 draft. If you were wondering, Tampa Bay didn’t have a first round pick that season, trading the eventual #32 pick to Oakland, who selected DE Tyler Brayton. After a tough rookie season, Polamalu began to prove that first-round investment the following season. He won a Super Bowl his third year in the league and was coached by Mike Tomlin two years later in 2007 until retiring in 2015.
Tonight, all three man – Carroll, Polamalu, and Tomlin – will be on the same field together again. Carroll’s Seahawks are in town for a Sunday night game, a “gotta have it” contest for both 2-3 clubs. Polamalu will be on-hand to receive his Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence along with the other Steelers’ inductees: Bill Cowher, Alan Faneca, and Donnie Shell,
Tomlin admits that thought has crossed his mind throughout the work week.
“This weekend we’re honoring him and others with their induction into the Hall of Fame with their Hall of Fame rings here in town. Excited about having them. But I’ve been thinking about that some this week in preparation because Pete introduced this man. Troy was probably about 19 at the time which is really funny and interesting looking back at it now.”
If you want a reminder of how old we all are, Polamalu is now 40. Over the last 20 years, all three men have reached the pinnacle of football success.