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Old 08-05-2009, 12:06 AM   #1
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Default Polamalu carving his name among greats

Polamalu carving his name among greats
By Scott Brown
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
(See link for video - mesa)

It can be difficult to reconcile the relentless, hard-hitting player with the person whose soft-spoken manner betrays a gentle soul as well as an aversion to adulation.

Maybe, then, it should come as no surprise that Troy Polamalu, who turns into the Tasmanian Devil on Red Bull when he dons a football uniform, sees himself as anything but a win-at-all-costs player.

"Honestly, I don't like to compete," said Polamalu, whose actions strongly suggest otherwise. "Competition is a good thing as a lot of coaches say, but sometimes it brings out the worst in people. It brings a lot of ego and pride out of people. It brings undermining of friendships. That's not fun."

Polamalu is not nearly as philosophical when the subject is football. And the game, he said, is simply fun to him even at the stage of his career where the aches and pains are more pronounced.

Polamalu's passion for football is one reason why if the Steelers' defense unexpectedly springs a leak this season, it likely won't come on the back end.

Polamalu, who has made five consecutive Pro Bowls, and Ryan Clark form one of the top safety tandems in the NFL. And Polamalu thrust himself back into the discussion of best safety in the NFL with the season he had in 2008.

He intercepted a career-high seven passes during the regular season and had nearly 90 tackles. Polamalu, then, clinched the Steelers' berth in the Super Bowl when he intercepted a Joe Flacco pass and returned it 40 yards for the touchdown that put the AFC title game out of reach.

As offensive coordinators around the league ponder ways to solve a defense that nearly led the NFL in all three majors categories last season, Polamalu is one player for which they will always have trouble accounting.

That is because the strong safety moves around frequently before the snap and has been given enough latitude to do a certain amount of free-lancing.

"I think Troy probably has as much innate football feel as anybody," Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. "That's probably where Troy's a little different than most people I've coached."

LeBeau said Polamalu compares favorably with former Steelers star Carnell Lake.

"They're two of the best players I've ever had at any position," LeBeau said. "The common points there are their size and their unbelievable acceleration. You just can't believe how fast they are for people that big. Carnell's probably a little stronger, and Troy's probably a little more instinctive."

Polamalu showed good instincts in 2008 when he opted to spend most of the offseason training in California following two-injury plagued seasons.

Rejuvenated last season, the 5-foot-10, 207-pounder played in all 16 games and collected numerous honors, including a place on the All-Pro team. Polamalu, again, spent this offseason working out in California, and leaving for camp may have been harder than in past years.

Polamalu had to say goodbye to his wife and son, Paisios, who was born this past October, though they have been in Latrobe for the start of camp.

As much as he could do without the drudgery of training camp and having to leave his family, Polamalu, who has many interests outside of football, said he is not even close to thinking about the end of his career.

"Honestly, when you talk about going into the seventh, eighth, ninth year of the NFL, it's more the prime of your career than the end of it," said Polamalu, who is going into his seventh season.

The Steelers seem intent on doing everything they can to preserve Polamalu.

He has practiced on a limited basis since camp began. And Polamalu figures to get his share of days off over the next couple of weeks given his status and familiarity with the Steelers' defense.

"I would imagine he could role out of bed and play strong safety in the NFL," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "That's what makes him Troy."

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Polamalu carving his name among greats

You'd expect that guy to talk like a longshoreman, but Polomalu is a soft-spoken intelligent man.

Just not on the gridiron.

I got a ton of respect for the guy. It's great to be able to watch him and Ed Reed play against each other at least twice a season.
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Polamalu carving his name among greats

Yet another great read on Troy. The guy just continues to amaze and awe with his gentle demeanor off the field and his kick-ur-ass play on the field.

I smell another outstanding season for our Taz!

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Old 08-05-2009, 03:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: Polamalu carving his name among greats

he is not even close to thinking about the end of his career.
oh thank god !!!
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: Polamalu carving his name among greats

i think that is what makes Troy so lovable to people all over the world and players alike. he's not a d*ckhead. he's not profanityfilterprofanityfilterprofanityfilterprofa nityfiltery, arrogant, or runs his mouth. he stays out of the limelight and he just loves to play ball.

granted, he opened his mouth one time about how the NFL was turning into a pansy game, but he was speaking his mind and people already forgot about it. he's a great player and a person you would want your children to look up to.

good read. thanks. =)
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: Polamalu carving his name among greats

When I watch replays of the Steelers games on the NFL network, many times I just watch Polamalu exclusively. He is so fun to watch, very entertaining. He's done things on the field that I've never seen before. A human missile!
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:50 PM   #7
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Default Re: Polamalu carving his name among greats

Another future Steelers Hall of Famer. It's a joy to watch him play and we should enjoy it because with his style, he probably doesn't have a lot left in the tank.
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