At only 5'10" and 205 pounds, Troy Polamalu certainly doesn't present the image of a hulking NFL football star - especially with his famous "Flowin' Samoan" locks pulled back in a ponytail. But what the Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety (SS) lacks in size when compared to the gargantuan lineman of professional football, he compensates for with the passion he brings to every game.
Born on April 19th, 1981 in Garden Grove, California, Polamalu's given name was Troy Benjamin Aumua, but Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Judith Friedman signed a court order on January 31st, 2007 which officially changed his name to Troy Aumua Polamalu. The Steelers star had petitioned for the legal name change because his parents divorced shortly after his birth, and he was raised exclusively by his mother whose maiden name is Suila Polamalu.
Off the field, the soft-spoken Polamalu grounds himself in his family and his faith. So strong is his Greek Orthodox Christianity, he blesses himself frequently on the gridiron. Teammates describe Troy in the locker room as somewhat quiet but quite capable of practical jokes and pranks. Troy, himself, has noted in interviews that he avoids the role of team cheerleader but doesn't mind letting his on-field performance provide all the inspiration his teammates might need.
With consistent accolades throughout his college and professional football careers (including two Super Bowl victories), it seems that Polamalu's philosophy for effective gridiron leadership works just fine.
A 2003 graduate of the University of Southern California (USC), Polamalu started for the Trojans beginning with his sophomore year. He wore number 43 for the team in cardinal and gold and - according to the USC web site - the strong safety racked up 281 tackles from 1999 to 2003. He also returned three of six interceptions for touchdowns and recorded thirteen pass deflections, four blocked punts and had two fumble recoveries.
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Troy Polamalu in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He ranked as the 16th overall pick that year.
On the field, number 43 in black and gold absolutely launches himself into every game with calculated abandon! Network commentators, sports writers, and fans alike have described Troy Polamalu as the human wrecking ball; a ballistic missile; and simply as "The Troy-nado"! None of those portrayals, however, adequately captures the crushing aura of strong safety Troy Polamalu when he plays defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In six years as a Steeler, Polamalu has already amassed 326 solo tackles and has assisted in 106 more tackles. He has also pulled down 17 interceptions. But statistics alone cannot tell the entire story of just how much influence Polamalu serves up on the playing field - especially when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense.
The Steelers of Football City have always prided themselves on bringing the strongest defense to the gridiron. With icons like Mean Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Andy Russell, Rod Woodson, Dwight White, Jack Lambert, and Mel Blount on its payroll, Pittsburgh's defensive reputation has been legendary throughout the years. And the name of Troy Polamalu fits right in with those fabled defensive rosters from years gone by.
In six years as an NFL player, strong safety Troy Polamalu has been selected for the Pro Bowl five times and has been picked as an all-pro player three times. He has played on two Super Bowl winning defenses and earned the Joe Greene Great Performance Award as a rookie in 2003.
When he worked as a broadcast analyst for the television networks, former Super Bowl champion coach John Madden consistently extolled Polamalu's depth of talent; passion for the game; and intelligent playing style. That endorsement from the Oakland Raiders' Hall of Fame coach has led EA Sports to use Polamalu's image on the cover of their Madden NFL 10 video game.