What if Troy Polamalu played for the Steelers in the 1970s?

Safety Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Safety Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /
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Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers
Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /

Where does Troy Polamalu begin with the Steelers

It’s a bit hard to figure which season Troy Polamalu would begin with the Steelers as they built their dynasty in pieces culminating with the famous 1974 NFL Draft.

So for the sake of argument, let’s say Chuck Noll drafted Polamalu in 1972 in the fourth round instead of opting for defensive back Lorenzo Brinkley. It’s not too hard to fathom, as the Steelers didn’t even draft Mike Webster until the fifth round in 1974.

One could imagine other NFL teams overlooking a Samoan defensive back at UCLA. How many teams would have overlooked Joe Greene in 1969 had Noll not drafted him? Plus, even Cliff Branch didn’t get drafted in 1972 until the fourth round. So, the scenario is plausible for the 1970s.

1972 Steelers Roster

Here is where things get a bit peculiar. The Steelers had gone from 6-8 in 1971 to 11-3 in 1972. Now they have the addition of Polamalu. How does this affect the 1972 team?

The starting front four consists of Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Ben Mcgee, and Dwight White. During the game, Ernie Homes would rotate in as well. The starting linebackers are Jack Ham, Henry Davis, and Andy Russell. The starting corners are Mel Blount on the right side and John Rowser on the left. Normally the starting safeties would have been Mike Wagner the free safety and Ralph Anderson the strong safety.

So how does the 1972 season change for Pittsburgh?

Considering Polamalu’s first six years playing in the NFL, he essentially played strong safety, with his superior athleticism, let’s say, Noll leaves Mike Wagner in the free safety position and puts Polamalu in the strong safety position.

This move utilizes Polamalu’s versatility for pass coverage, the run, and the safety blitz on occasions.