Why Steelers Legend Troy Polamalu is ‘Indifferent’ About His Hall of Fame Candidacy

Induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame would make most players jump with excitement. However, former Steelers standout Troy Polamalu, who’s one of the semifinalists in the 2020 class, doesn’t really care. In fact, he recently claimed to be indifferent about the honor. But when you find out why Polamalu feels this way, it starts to make sense. Here’s what the legendary safety said about his Hall of Fame candidacy, and the odds that he’ll be inducted, regardless of his feelings.

Troy Polamalu was committed to the Steelers

Troy Polamalu has Hall of Fame credentials, but the former Steelers' safety doesn't care about his enshrinement in Canton.
Troy Polamalu. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Polamalu in 2003 after he played college football at the University of Southern California. He is the only safety ever to be drafted by the Steelers in the first round. Polamalu’s arrival in Pittsburgh was the result of another player’s fall through. 

Dexter Jackson was the Steelers’ first choice as safety. When he backed out of their verbal agreement and decided to sign as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals, the Steelers scooped up their second choice — Polamalu. He was drafted 16th overall in 2003.

When the Steelers decided to go with Troy Polamalu, they made a fantastic choice. He’s a committed player that believes in sticking it through with one team. Polamalu remained with Pittsburgh throughout his 12-year career, until his retirement in 2015

During his time with the Steelers, Polamalu helped lead the team to two Super Bowl championships and won the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. He finished his career with 770 tackles, 32 interceptions, and three touchdowns. But according to Touchdown Wire, Polamalu’s game is about more than stats. Polamalu helped create the modern idea of a do-it-all safety. He blurred the lines between positions and was able to “create havoc everywhere from the defensive line to the deep third in coverage.” That’s a big reason Polamalu is being considered for Hall of Fame induction. 

Polamalu is ‘indifferent’ about his Hall of Fame candidacy

No one could accuse Troy Polamalu of not being a team player. He knows the importance of every member of the group. That’s why individual awards make him uncomfortable. And when he became a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility, he hesitated to accept the praise.

On The Jim Rome Show, Polamalu explained his thinking in detail.

“Honestly, I’ve kind of been really indifferent toward seeing any type of award or recognition,” Polamalu said, “For a sport like football, it’s such a team-oriented sport, it’s hard to really talk about individual players.”

While most are all too willing to accept congratulations on awards like these, Polamalu shifted attention back to his teammates. That’s an attitude you don’t see every day.

Will Troy Polamalu make it to the Hall of Fame?

Troy Polamalu has Hall of Fame credentials, but the former Steelers' safety doesn't care about his enshrinement in Canton.
Troy Polamalu. | Getty Images

Polamalu was one of 25 semifinalists for 2020 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The group includes other greats, such as Reggie Wayne, Patrick Willis, Carl Banks, and Fred Taylor. When the list was trimmed to only 15 players on Jan. 2, 2020, Polamalu remained. On February 1, five will be chosen for the class of 2020. They will enter the Canton, Ohio, shrine in August. 

Does Polamalu have a chance at becoming one of the five modern-era inductees? If you were to ask his former Steelers teammate, Hines Ward, you’d have no doubt about Polamalu’s talent. During a podcast episode of The Season, as reported by 247 Sports, Ward explained what made Polamalu so special.  

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“He was just a dynamic player,” Ward said. “We had a bunch of playmakers on defense, but Troy was just that special player. He just rose to the occasion when we needed it most. That’s what stood out to me. That’s what really separated him [from] the other guys. He just came up big when we needed it the most.”

Considering the way so many people praise Troy Polamalu, it’d be no surprise if he made it to the Hall of Fame in 2020.