It’s not a secret that Troy Polamalu left his pro football career in Pittsburgh on less than good terms. As he prepares for entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame today, Polamalu has remained away from the Steel City since his retirement.
Polamalu did not return for the reunions of either of the Super Bowl XL or XLIII teams and has not been in town to anyone’s knowledge period. To even the casual fan, this was easy to notice. While the former USC Trojan has never been one to say much, his actions in recent years have spoken volumes for his displeasure of how things went in his final seasons.
For as liberally and free-flying as Polamalu played the game, he also believed that there was a certain way things were done in Pittsburgh. Whether this was instilled by Bill Cowher, what he saw from veterans during his younger years or what he learned from past stars on the Steelers, Polamalu clearly had expectations that weren’t being met.
For starters, Polamalu reportedly felt that there was too much coddling of younger players. While there was some hesitancy to accept that, as time passed, his views gained more acceptance. According to many I spoke with Polamalu often viewed Mike Tomlin as the issue here. Rather than make younger players and rising stars “earn their keep” so to speak, Polamalu saw too much enabling from Tomlin.
This is turn took the ability of veterans like himself to lead by example or with words away. The “Young Money Crew” was a major case in point. This was not something that the Pittsburgh franchise had really embraced and Polamalu saw what was happening. Perhaps we should have paid more attention to Polamalu’s concerns considering how things have unfolded in recent years.
It’s fair to ask whether Polamalu was just bitter when his career came to a close. Many veterans and former stars see their own abilities decline and rather than accept this they can often take their frustrations out on the up and coming stars.
I have heard no word of this in regards to number 43 but I can’t definitively say that wasn’t part of the situation. Polamalu was often known to be very humble but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have had some bitterness towards what he was seeing. While his frustrations with what he seeing with receivers was one thing there was also the handling of Le’Veon Bell.
Polamalu wasn’t the only veteran concerned by Tomlin’s reported enabling of Bell but because of his tenure and the timing of his departure he seemed to be the only one showing any type of disdain.
It has been reported that Polamalu has not spoken with Tomlin nor Art Rooney II since he retired. I cannot confirm this but I have no reason to doubt it based on everything else I’ve been told and have witnessed.
As he no doubt gains entry into the Hall of Fame today, it will be interesting to see how things unfold. Rooney II has already divulged that he expects his team to be in the Hall of Fame Game so it’s seems obvious both he and Tomlin will be in Canton. Will the ice be broken or will the hard feelings remain?
Regardless, the career of Troy Polamalu is to be celebrated and enjoyed by we fans and himself. What happens from there is anyone’s guess.