The topic of Troy Polamalu‘s Hall of Fame candidacy has been coming up over the past few days. Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette gave his breakdown of the battle Polamalu will have to get into the doors at Canton. Nice Pick, Cowher’s very own Kim Myers also mentioned this same topic in todays Steelers Morning Huddle. So with not much else going on in the NFL these days, I figured I’d put in my own two cents. First off, Troy Polamalu has always been one of my favorite Steelers player to watch over the past decade. So clearly I’m a little bit biased and think he’s a Hall of Fame player but I’ll try to reasonably explain why he is actually an HOF’er.
Fittipaldo brought up good points about the safety position in the Hall of Fame. Ronnie Lott was the last safety inducted to Canton and that happened in 2000. Lott played five years at cornerback however, so the last true safety to be inducted into the Hall was Paul Krause in 1998. It took voters 14 years to vote Krause in. The fact that safeties aren’t inducted often may be seen as in issue for Troy Polamalu but you could look at it another way and ask who has been playing the position since 2000 or so, and who hasn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame? After looking at the All-Pro teams since 2000 you get a lot of names like, Roy Williams, Darren Sharper, Rodney Harrison, Bob Sanders, John Lynch and Brain Dawkins. Outside of Lynch and Dawkins the rest probably aren’t Hall of Famers nor were considered to be future HOF’ers while they were playing. Dawkins will not be eligible to for the HOF until 2017 and Lynch was a finalist in his second year of eligibility and will likely be inducted soon. Therefore I think the “no safeties get into the Hall of Fame” could be a little overstated.
The second argument against Polamalu is that he played in the same era as Ed Reed, who is considered one of the best safeties in NFL history. The issue for Troy would be that head-to-head Reed would likely enter the Hall over him. If you look at the stats that could be true. Reed has double the interceptions to Polamalu (64 to 32) and Reed has 13 total touchdowns compared to Polamalu’s five. Even if you look at awards the numbers a skewed slightly in favor of Reed. Polamalu has made eight Pro Bowls to Reed’s nine. Polamalu has been named to the All-Pro Team five times, Reed has done that eight times. They do both have one Defensive Player of the Year award though and Polamalu has one more Super Bowl title than Reed but we aren’t talking about quarterbacks where rings determine your legacy.
With all that being said about Reed having the advantage over Troy, I still don’t think it should hurt Polamalu’s chances of making the Hall of Fame. Those two guys are different players plain and simple. Reed was much more of a ball hawk than Polamalu, who affected the run game more and got after quarterbacks more often. Polamalu has 12 career sacks compared to Reed’s six. Troy Polamalu has played the position of safety unlike anyone else in the history of the league. The Tasmanian Devil has made plays throughout his career that hardly seemed possible. The interception against the Chargers in 2008 when he scooped the ball centimeters off the turf immediately comes to mind. Or the pick six in the 2008 AFC Championship game against the Ravens that secured a spot in Super Bowl XLIII. Personally I just believe that somebody who had the ability to change the game in numerous ways for a decade deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I’m only 24 years old so I never saw the likes of Willie Wood, or Paul Krause, or even Ronnie Lott but I know for sure that I’ve been witness to one of the best safeties to ever play the game over the past 11 years and he wears number 43 and has wicked long hair.
What do you think Steelers Nation? Troy Polamalu is Hall of Famer am I right?