Troy Polamalu was one of the most productive and decorated safeties in his 12 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was a six-time All-Pro, eight-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl champion, all-decade choice and 2010 Defensive Player of the Year.
Plus, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, chosen to the Class of 2020.
His induction ceremony is three weeks away (Saturday, Aug. 7), and Polamalu understandably is “nervous” for the once-in-a-lifetime event. But he’s more than that. In fact, in remarks last week on a Zoom call with the Hall, Polamalu admitted to “a lot of mixed emotions” for what’s about to happen.
When he elaborated, it’s easy to see why.
“Definitely nervous,” he said. “Definitely anxious. But very excited. I think all those emotions are very closely tied together. Very excited to see my teammates to rehash some great, exciting memories. Nervous for a speech. Anxious because I want to make sure that the people that have been huge influences on my life (are mentioned). And I do mean a lot of people. Because for someone like me no small thing … no glass of water that someone offered me … was insignificant.
“Coming where I came from, that meant a lot. And I don’t want to miss out on that. I’m nervous that I don’t give the proper thanks, and people won’t feel the gratitude that I really want to give them. So there’s a lot of mixed emotions going on with that.”
Considering the Hall’s push to curtail this year’s speeches, his concerns are warranted. Inductees have been told to confine their speeches to no longer than eight minutes, with Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning saying that the Hall may use flashing lights, a bell and applause to keep speeches short.
He should know. He speaks Sunday, Aug. 8, as a member of the Class of 2021.
The last time Canton had an induction ceremony, tight end Tony Gonzalez spoke for nearly 40 minutes and safety Ed Reed for over 35 as members of the Class of 2019. Though Polamalu is conscious of acknowledging all who helped him in Canton, he said there’s no reason for him to ramble.
“In a lot of respects,” said Polamalu, “I feel I don’t need to say anything, as well, because my career is the result of them. Had they not had those influences, had they not given me these meals, a bed to sleep (in), the advice, the knowledge, the wisdom, I absolutely would not have been selected to receive such a prestigious honor. So I definitely have a lot of mixed emotions going into that week.”