As an inspiring journalist, I would consider Troy Polamalu not only one of the top safeties during his era, but possible one of the greatest to every play the game.
As a Ravens fan, I can’t really say I’m that upset to see him go, just as Steelers fans weren’t that upset when Ray Lewis called it a career.
But whether you liked him or hated him, no true football fan can deny the type of level Polamalu played at for the last 12 years with the Steelers. Considered one of the NFL’s most explosive and dynamic players, the former first-round pick for Pittsburgh back in 2003 was a nightmare for teams (mainly QBs) to game plan around, serving as the backbone of the Steelers’ defense. Polamalu retires a four-time first-team All-Pro, with eight Pro Bowl appearance, 2010 Defensive Player of the Year and two Super Bowl championships.
Though his resume show that he should easily be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in five years, some believe it might not be that simple for Mr. Polamalu. For starters, Polamalu isn’t even considered the greatest safety the Steelers have every had. Some might say that Donnie Shell, who played for the “Steel Curtain” defense was equal as a good or even better than Troy during his time in the 1970s, and he’s not in the Hall of Fame either. Yes, he might not have been as dynamic as Polamalu or as big of a name as “Mean” Joe Greene, but Shell was a three-time All-Pro, a five time Pro Bowler with 51 interceptions and a four-time Super Bowl champion.
Another discussion that pops up when you talk about Polamula is whether or not he is considered the best safety in his era. Let say in another month or so, former Baltimore Raven safety Ed Reed officially calls it a career (currently a free agent), both he and Troy would be eligible at the same time in five years, but the committee could only select one over the other ( which is possible since the Hall can only select five modern-day candidates in at a time, and there could be some big names up for consideration during this time).
Who would get in first? Both play with similar, yet distinct styles that opposing offensive coordinators had to be thoroughly prepared for. If you go by stats you probably would say Reed (643 Tlks, 64 INTs, 11 FF, 13 TD) over Polamalu ( 710Tlks,35 INTs, 13 FF, 4 TDs). If you want to look at championships, you would have to go with Polamalu’s two over Reed’s one. We can go back and forth with what this guy did or what this guy didn’t do, but if you had to choose between the two to go into the Hall of Fame first, it’s almost a coin flip in my opinion.
One thing that is certain is that it will be challenging for either of them to get in on their first try, safeties are among the most under-represented positions in the Hall of Fame. Though there are 24 defensive backs enshrined, only 7 of them are considered true safeties (others played both corner and safety).
Though the road to Canton might not be as bright as some Steelers fans would had thought it was for Troy Polumalu, it doesn’t effect the lasting legacy he left on the field, the amazing plays that left our jaws on the floor, and the constant headaches he gave some of the teams over his career (especially for Ravens fans). There is no question, whether it’s five years from or more, Troy will be receiving his bust up in Canton at some point down the line, probably sooner rather than later.
Enjoy you’re retirement Troy, though I may not have liked who you played for, those Ravens-Steelers games won’t be the same without seeing No. 43 run around in the secondary, with his signature black curls flowing in the air.