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Old 01-29-2009, 07:55 AM   #1
stillers4me
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Post In faith and football, Polamalu is without equal

In faith and football, Polamalu is without equal
Thomas George By Thomas George | NFL.com
Senior Columnist

TAMPA, Fla. -- The last time Troy Polamalu confronted the Arizona Cardinals, his immediate pregame preparation was astonishing. Polamalu, the Pittsburgh Steelers' Pro Bowl safety, describes it simply as divine.

The Steelers were in Phoenix on Sept. 30, 2007 for a regular-season bout against the Cardinals. Polamalu rested as he was driven into the early morning for more than an hour to Florence, Ariz. Polamalu is a Greek Orthodox Christian. He journeyed to meet what he calls his Abbot Father Ephraim and to worship in a monastery. The services began at 3 a.m. MST and lasted until nearly 7 a.m MST. Then the trek back to Phoenix.

Then kickoff at 2:15 p.m MST.

"Some people might see that as a lot, but I saw it as a must, an opportunity to see my spiritual father," Polamalu said. "I go there five to six times a year because that is where he is. This life that I struggle to live, I try to do so in the eyes of my spiritual father."

His journey for worship and further understanding of his faith has taken him to Greece, Turkey and beyond. In fact, when coach Mike Tomlin took over the Steelers in 2007, Polamalu missed Tomlin's first camp because he was abroad in his worship and studies. Tomlin understood then and he approved Polamalu's Arizona excursion.

There is great affection for this player among all the Steelers.

As Polamalu finished his Wednesday Super Bowl media session, as he walked to join his Steelers teammates for practice, Dick LeBeau walked past him. LeBeau is the Steelers' defensive coordinator. Without a word, LeBeau looked at him, smiled, extended his arm to Polamalu's shoulder, gave it firm hold, looked him again in the eye, both smiled, and LeBeau walked on.

Not a single word necessary.

This player dramatically helps form the nexus of these Steelers. He is age 27 and at 5-feet-10 and 207 pounds plays much taller, much bigger, with an air of ferociousness that makes offensive players take note of where he is aligned and if he will be steamrolling their way. An intelligent player who in the AFC Championship Game made a critical fourth-down, short-yardage stop by leaping to tackle quarterback Joe Flacco by remembering that when a certain Ravens lineman was in a certain position, that meant run all the way, according to a Steelers scouting report. A report he remembered and utilized during a frenetic moment in that game.

Polamalu has heard Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald's name mentioned "every other question," he said, since arriving here for his national, group interviews. In pure emotion, it must be grating to Polamalu. Mentally, though, he gets it. There is a job to help do against a dynamic receiver. It is a paramount task toward gaining his second championship ring.

"Football is a great passion for me, and this game brings me great joy," he said. "We have a big job ahead of us with this opponent. Their offense is complex and versatile."

Before walking away, he looked away, and then spoke softly, barely audible, as is his way: "Our team is strong. I like the chance we have. I know where the strength in my life and in my game lives."


http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=090..._Tue_2column_1
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 01-29-2009, 08:04 AM   #2
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Default Re: In faith and football, Polamalu is without equal

"Before walking away, he looked away, and then spoke softly, barely audible, as is his way: "Our team is strong. I like the chance we have. I know where the strength in my life and in my game lives."


AMEN.

I love, love, love this man.
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