(EDITOR'S NOTE: To access the David Baker interview, click on the following attachment: Ep 66: HOF President David Baker Returns To The Show | Spreaker)
As a member of the Centennial Class of 2020, Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this Saturday in Canton. The only question is: How?
Nobody is certain.
Under normal circumstances, Polamalu would be inducted on the stage of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. But there is nothing normal about the times we live in, and so Polamalu – who last week revealed he recently tested positive for COVID-19 – is uncertain if he’ll be there.
David Baker, president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is uncertain, too. Nevertheless, he believes “there’s a good shot” Polamalu will be in Canton this weekend to join the Class of 2020 for its induction Saturday evening.
“We’re monitoring it on a day-to-day basis,” he said on the latest “Eye Test for Two” podcast (fullpressradio.com). “He’s progressing well, and we’re monitoring it. If he shows no symptoms the first day which he’s allowed to travel, it should be Friday (to) Monday. So we think he can make it here for the Saturday enshrinement. And that’s what we’re working on.
“Of course, it depends on how he progresses and how he’s doing … I know he was broken-hearted when this first (came) out. He’s got a lot of friends here to see him. We will make that happen one way or the other. But we want it to happen in person.”
Baker made it clear that nothing is certain at this juncture, with Polamalu’s situation in flux until he’s cleared to travel. If that doesn’t happen in time for him to attend Saturday’s ceremony, Baker said "there are a lot alternatives” in the works, including a video hook-up.
“But safety comes first,” he said.
Polamalu is one of three Steelers honored Saturday, with his former coach, Bill Cowher, and safety Donnie Shell the others. Polamalu was a first-ballot choice to the modern-era Class of 2020. Cowher and Shell were among 15 individuals chosen to the Hall’s Centennial Class of 2020.
There will be a second induction ceremony on Sunday evening, for members of the Hall’s Class of 2021.
“Either one of these classes would certainly be one of the greatest classes in the history of the Hall of Fame,” said Baker. “Combined, there are 28 men who will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and it is a mega, spectacular class.”
In all, there are five Steelers among the two classes, with guard Alan Faneca and former scout and assistant personnel director Bill Nunn completing the roll call.
Induction Weekend kicks off – literally – Thursday night with the season’s first preseason game between Dallas and Pittsburgh, followed by a Gold Jacket dinner on Friday. Polamalu is not expected at either. The Saturday evening induction ceremony, however, is a different story, with Baker hoping Polamalu appears.
“There’s no substitute for being in Canton,” he said. “There’s no substitute for seeing the smiles of all the people who helped to get you here. We’re taking it day by day. We’re praying every day as well.
“I feel very positive that there’s a good shot that, if you work with the timing and everything else … we’ve talked to our public officials and health officials here … (that) he may not make it to all of Canton, but I think he’s going to make it for a good portion of this.”