Steelers

Polamalu praises current Steelers, coaches, culture

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Former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (43) -- AP

Troy Polamalu keeps a pretty low profile these days since his retirement following the Steelers' 2014 season.

But he did appear on the Jim Rome Show Tuesday, talking about his recent selection as one of the 25 semifinalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.

Polamalu, one of three first-time semifinalists, is considered a near shoo-in for induction, something that leaves him perplexed.

“Honestly, I’ve kind of been really indifferent toward seeing any type of award or recognition,” Polamalu told Rome. "Because for a sport like football, it’s such a team-oriented sport, it’s hard to really talk about individual players, especially coming from the team that I’ve been a part of — thank God — for the 12 years that I played for the Steelers.

"There’s definitely more than a handful of players that I know that I’ve played with that are more deserving of this award. I could even point out players on other teams that had they played with the James Harrisons, the (James) Farriors, the Ike Taylors under Coach (Dick) LeBeau that perhaps could have been even more successful or just as successful as I’ve been.”

Polamalu was unhappy with the Steelers at the time of his retirement, wanting to play at least one more season. But the Steelers felt he had lost a step and the two decided to part ways following the 2014 season.

Polamalu seems to be over that initial rejection, praising the current Steelers and Mike Tomlin for getting to 7-5 at this point.

"I think it's (a) really awesome coaching job, to be very frank, for the coaches to miss so much talent and to continue to be in the position to make the playoffs," Polamalu said. "That's what this game is all about.

"One thing that we had always kind of told each other internally is, 'They never wanna see us in the playoffs.' They never wanna see the Steelers in the playoffs because that's really where the guts come out, where the real personality of what the legacy of the Pittsburgh Steelers means to everyone. When we get an opportunity to display that in the playoffs, for us, it was a win-win situation. For the current team, to continue to put themselves in this position, where if they can make it to the playoffs, to me, it will just show how dangerous they could really be if they do make it."

Polamalu told Rome he reluctantly became a member of the Steelers in 2003. The Steelers traded up in the first round to acquire the hard-hitting, playmaking safety, moving up to the 16th pick to do so. He would go on two help them win two Super Bowls and appear in another, earning All-Pro honors six times and Pro Bowl honors eight. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.

"Going on my pre-draft visit to Pittsburgh, it was just a miserable winter night," Polamalu recalled. "I landed in Pittsburgh around 11:30 at night, went to the hotel and there was just that freezing rain. I remember calling my agent and was like, 'I do not want to play here.' His response was, 'If they draft you, you're gonna play there, definitely.' I was like, 'All right, whatever.'

"As I moved to Pittsburgh and I understood more about the community, as I understood more about the legacy, what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler, to me, there was no better place, obviously, that I could have been a part of. Being part of, really, the same environment at USC that breeds greatness, that breeds this sort of success."

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