The Steelers nominee is safety Troy Polamalu, who throughout his career has epitomized sportsmanship and has earned the respect of teammates, coaches and opponents for his approach to the game. Polamalu wishes his friend and teammate could be doing more, though. He understands injuries are part of the game and that keeps players on the sidelines, but in this situation he feels for him.
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He was also selected to the Steelers’ 75th Anniversary Team in 2007, named Steelers’ MVP and Steelers’ Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2010, and won the Joe Greene Great Performance Award, given annually to the Steelers top rookie in 2003. In 2014, Polamalu was named a defensive team captain. He started 12 games during the regular season, where he recorded 59 tackles, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Polamalu also started the lone postseason contest, finishing with a team-best eight tackles.
“It’s something that we all knew he had to deal with if we went to Denver,” said Polamalu. “I am not sure if there is any other NFL player that has this blood disorder that would allow them to play in every other game except one stadium. It’s a unique situation. It’s given Ryan a level of humility to be able to understand that. It wasn’t just the offense that had a strong outing. Troy Polamalu sacked Texans’ quarterback David Carr three times, and the defense totaled eight sacks on the day.
“The guy is a winner and a competitor,” said Farrior. “He keeps his team in the game. I don’t want to take anything away from their defense. They have been playing outstanding. But he definitely gives them a chance at the end. He is the guy we have to stop. No doubt about it.”
At some point during the opening series against the Bengals last Sunday at Heinz Field, Polamalu sustained an injury to his left knee, the same knee he had injured in the first half of the opener against Tennessee. On that occasion, Polamalu sprained his MCL, Pittsburgh Steelers jersey sale and he was sidelined for four full games.
“That was a rollercoaster. At one point in time it was a blowout. I thought we were doing our job. At one point Troy (Polamalu) made an interception and it was overturned. I was like there is no way they can overturn it, and they did. We gave up a touchdown after that. Now they are back in the game. When Jerome fumbled that ball, it was like, not like this. They were sucking the life out of our team. The story went from good to bad real quick. We got another opportunity on the field and made some plays and it was on to the next week.”
“Troy Polamalu was as unique a person as he was a football player. His actions as a human being were just as impressive as any of the many inhuman plays he made on the football field. We were very fortunate to have him be a part of our organization for the past 12 years. We wish him and his family all the best as they move into the next phase of their lives.”
Polamalu registered four tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed in the Steelers 27-11 victory. The two forced fumbles were a single-game career high, giving him three this season. His first forced fumble, which he also recovered, came with under two minutes remaining in the first half and led to a field goal that gave the Steelers a 13-3 lead heading into halftime.
The heat was on, in more ways than one in Houston. The Texans opened the roof in an effort to make the Steelers uncomfortable in their black jerseys, but the humidity, 90 degree air temperature, which rose to 110 on the field, and baking sun didn’t have an impact. “Troy is a shining example of a football man in the way he loved the game, the way he respected the game and the way he played the game,” said Coach Mike Tomlin when Polamalu retired. “He is a legendary Steelers player and a legendary man.”