A tribute to Pittsburgh Steelers legend Troy Polamalu

The Steelers found one of the best safeties to ever play the game back in 2003. Now 43 days away from the NFL season, here is a tribute to Troy Polamalu.

During the 2003 NFL Draft, teams laughed at Kevin Colbert and Bill Cowher with their decision to trade up for safety, Troy Polamalu. Fast forward 16 years, and the Steelers former 1st rounder is set to enter the Hall of Fame. Who’s laughing now?

There is no question that Troy Polamalu will go down as one of the greatest Steelers of all-time, but he also enters a very small and elite class of the best players to every play safety in the NFL. Polamalu was an absolute game-changer who made an impact everywhere he played.

With 43 days remaining until kickoff of the 2019 NFL season, Pro Football Focus released a tweet of the football legend, and shared his top 5 graded seasons in the PFF era:

Polamalu was undeniably impressive – earning season grades of 90.0 or above in three seasons. PFF also shares that he earned a 96.0 grade against the Ravens in the AFC Championship game – allowing just a 2.8 passer rating leading up to the Super Bowl.

Polamalu’s reign could have been even sweeter if not for injuries that plagued his career. The prolific safety had 6 of his 12 seasons cut short due to injury. Regardless, Polamalu still managed 8 Pro Bowl selections and 4 First-Team All-Pro honors despite playing just 6 full seasons.

Even more impressive is that Troy Polamalu was a Pro Bowl or All-Pro player in 3 seasons were he played just 11, 13, and 14 games.

The All-Pro safety was named Defensive Player of the Year for his performance in 2010, where he compiled 7 interceptions for 101 return yards and a touchdown, 11 pass deflections, 6 tackles for a loss and 1 sack. He did all of this despite missing 2 games.

Polamalu had an unusual and aggressive play-style that opposing quarterbacks had to account for on every play. It was impossible to tell whether he was blitzing or dropping into coverage. Though he would occasionally guess wrong, his instincts were second to none and he proved to be one of the greatest play-makers the NFL has seen.

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Polamalu was a once-in-a-lifetime talent with an incredibly rare combination of instincts and athleticism. Trading up in the first round to get him was one of the best moves the Steelers ever made. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as early as 2020, and will go down as one of the best defensive players of all-time.

Check out some of the best plays of the legendary safety:

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