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Troy Aumua Polamalu ( ) (born Troy Aumua on April 19, 1981 in Garden Grovemarker, Californiamarker) is a professional American football strong safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. He was drafted in the 1st round (16th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Steelers. He played college football at the University of Southern California.

College career

Polamalu’s first year at USC was spent as a backup where he became a hybrid player, playing at both the safety positions. While he was only a backup player at the time, Polamalu still made his mark in the eight games he played in, collecting two sacks, two forced fumbles and blocking a punt. He would become a full-time starter at the strong safety position the following year, earning All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors after finishing second on the team with 83 tackles and tying the team for the lead in interceptions with two.

Polamalu’s best year would come during his junior season where he became USC’s first All-American safety since Mark Carrier in 1989. He earned 1st team honors from Pro Football News-Weekly and The NFL Draft Report, 2nd team honors from the Associated Press, and 3rd team honors from Football Weekly. He was for the first time selected to the All-Pac-10 team this year as well, as a 1st team member. As a team captain, Polamalu finished the year leading the team in tackles (118), tackles for losses (13 with one sack), passes defended (6), and interceptions (3), returning two for touchdowns. His tackles were the most by a safety at USC since Tim McDonald made 140 in 1986. After helping the Trojans team to the Las Vegas Bowl, he set a Las Vegas Bowl record and a career high in tackles with 20 against Utah with 12 solo tackles, a record for the bowl. Another key deflection in the game made him the MVP of the game for the Trojans in their 10-6 loss. He added three blocked punts and two forced fumbles in the season and saw time on punt return duty.

In 2002, his last year at USC, Polamalu would start in all but one game against Pac-10 rival California, giving him 36 total starts in his college career. He made 68 tackles for the season, 9 for losses, as well as 4 pass deflections and one interception, all while battling an ankle injury that would eventually sideline him during the Orange Bowl against Iowa. Though he would only see action in two plays during the game, the Trojans’ defense held the Hawkeyes to 17 points and won the game 38-17, giving Polamalu the first and only bowl win of his college career.

Polamalu would earn 1st team All-American honors from several sources such as the Associated Press, Walter Camp and ESPN while earning 2nd team honors from The Sporting News. This would make him the first two-time All-American selection for USC since offensive lineman Tony Boselli. He became a two-time All-Pac-10 first teamer and was awarded the Most Inspirational Player Award by his teammates. Polamalu was named as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's best defensive back, along with then-Ohio Statemarker safety Mike Doss and the eventual winner, then-Kansas Statemarker cornerback Terence Newman.

Polamalu finished his career at USC as a 3-year starter. In all, he made 278 total tackles with 29 of them being behind the line scrimmage, 6 interceptions, 13 pass deflections and 4 blocked punts.

Professional career

2003 NFL Draft

Polamalu was drafted 16th overall in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Pittsburghmarker Steelers. Polamalu was actually the team's second option, as they had planned on signing Dexter Jackson that offseason. Jackson, the reigning Super Bowl MVP with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even had a verbal agreement to sign with the Steelers, only for him to back out at the last minute and sign with the Arizona Cardinals instead. The Steelers then went to "Plan B" and drafted Polamalu instead.

He was widely regarded as one of the top five safeties in the league. The Chargers, who had the 15th overall pick, had a major need at safety to replace Rodney Harrison but instead chose to go with quantity over quality forgoing the opportunity to select Polamalu by trading down and getting Sammy Davis and Terrence Kiel. The Steelers, ecstatic that Polamalu slid past the Chargers, quickly made a move to bring Polamalu to their team. The Steelers believed so much that Polamalu could have a positive impact on their defense that they traded up from the 27th spot to the 16th spot, originally held by the Chiefs. The Steelers traded away the 92nd and 200th overall pick for the rights to switch first round picks and select Troy Polamalu. Essentially, the trade was Polamalu for Larry Johnson, Julian Battle, and Brooks Bollinger (the Bollinger pick was subsequently traded to the Jets in the same draft). He has the distinction of being the only safety ever drafted by the Steelers in the first round.

In the last game of his college career against Iowa in the Orange Bowl, Polamalu injured his hamstring in pre-game warm-ups and had very limited action in the game that day. Subsequently, the hamstring caused Polamalu to miss the Senior Bowl and 2003 NFL Combine as well. Polamalu was able to perform for scouts at his USC pro day. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1st round pick #16 and was signed to a 5 year contract worth $8.275 million dollars.

Pre-draft measureables
Wt 40y 20ss 3-cone Vert BP Wonderlic
206 lb 4.35s X X 43" 25 24*

Pittsburgh Steelers

Polamalu's hair is one of his most distinguishing characteristics, and he is easily spotted on field because of it.

In the CBS Playoffs Pre-game Show, Polamalu said the last time he had gotten a haircut was at USC in the year 2000 when a coach told him he needed one. In Samoan culture, it is customary for men to wear their hair long. The hair was the center of talk around a tackle on October 15, 2006. After an interception where Polamalu looked poised for a touchdown return, former Chiefs RB Larry Johnson pulled him down by his hair in order to tackle him. Both players, without skipping a beat were on their feet as if nothing happened. Commentators correctly pointed out that pulling hair is legal and does not alone constitute unnecessary roughness, but Johnson was penalized for not releasing his grasp until long after the tackle.Polamalu's blend of speed, anticipation, and instinct makes him a standout player who is involved in a high percentage of defensive plays. The Steelers often use Polamalu in different packages. He may blitz the quarterback, come on a delayed blitz, or pretend to blitz and drop back into coverage, confusing the quarterback. Polamalu often adds to the quarterback's confusion by turning around and walking away from the line of scrimmage before the snap. In only his third season (2005), he tied the NFL record for most sacks, 3, in a single game by a safety. The 2007 Pro Bowl was his third consecutive Pro Bowl appearance; he started at strong safety for the AFC, playing next to the Baltimore Ravens starting free safety Ed Reed. The rivalry they share based on their teams' divisional rivalry was evident, as the two battled for possession of an overthrown halfback pass from former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber; Reed came down with the interception. He made the AP NFL All-Pro Second Team in 2005, followed by being named to the First Team in 2006.

His first Super Bowl appearance was in Super Bowl XL in 2006, when the Pittsburgh Steelers gained the franchise's fifth Super Bowl (against a former USCmarker teammate Lofa Tatupu) with a 21–10 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

On July 23, 2007, before training camp, the Steelers gave Polamalu the biggest contract in team history extending him through 2011. In an article on, Polamalu said, "I did not want to be a player who is jumping from team to team. I've always felt comfortable here, I think this organization, this tradition they have here, is very legendary and I always wanted to be part of this." The four-year contract extension, worth just over $30 million with about $15 million in guarantees, made Polamalu one of the highest paid defensive backs in the league and the highest paid safety in the league (though this distinction was taken by Bob Sanders on December 28, 2007 when he signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with $20 million in guarantees).

Polamalu was named a reserve to the 2008 Pro Bowl despite having no interceptions and only playing in 11 games during the 2007 season. Polamalu's injury-plagued 2007 season led him to partake in a California rehab program. He suffered a hamstring injury late in his off-season workout, causing him to miss Pittsburgh's 2008 training camp. He returned to practicing with the team days after the camp's conclusion, however.Polamalu was named to the 2009 Pro Bowl as the AFC's strong safety after being given a unanimous vote by five experts. He was joined by his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates James Harrison and James Farrior on the AFC Pro Bowl team. Polamalu's 4th quarter interception return for a touchdown in the 2009 AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens helped the Steelers clinch a victory en route to another Super Bowl appearance. At Super Bowl XLIII, he only got two assisted tackles in the Steelers victory over the Cardinals, 27-23.

In the 2009 season opener against the Tennessee Titans, Polamalu recorded six tackles and one interception before getting injured while trying to recover a blocked field goal. He sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, and missed the next 4 games. He returned to play in the week 6 matchup against the Cleveland Browns.


He is of Samoanmarker descent. Despite Polamalu's hard-hitting style on the gridiron, he is known off the field as a soft-spoken, Christian family man.

Polamalu is an Eastern Orthodox Christian, having converted through the influence of his wife Theodora. He makes the Sign of the Cross after every play (from right to left, in the Eastern Christian manner, as opposed to the more familiar left to right motion in the West). Among his spiritual activities is a pilgrimage to Greek Orthodox sites in Greece and Turkey, taken in 2007. He seldom gives interviews, but when he does, he often speaks of the role his spirituality plays in his life. Polamalu has said that he tries to separate himself from his profession as much as possible, like not watching football games at home. He prays after each play and on the sidelines.

Polamalu is known for his humble lifestyle. He has only one brother named Kaio, and 3 full blooded sisters named Patricia, Sheila and Lupe. Troy is the youngest of five from his mother. Troy's father was never involved in his life as a youth and left when Troy was an infant and has half brothers and sisters on that side of the family. He was raised by his mother's family, hence the name Polamalu. He rarely hangs out with teammates, instead preferring to spend time at home with his wife Theodora, the sister of former Rams tight end Alex Holmes, another former USCmarker player, and best friend Aaron Wesley Shoop. They enjoy surfing together in San Clemente, CA and eating tacos at Sanchos in Tustin, Ca.

In 2005, Pittsburgh area band Mr. Devious wrote and recorded the novelty song Puhlahmahlu, a parody of the song Mah Nà Mah Nà. Guitarist Glenn Shirey said that the song was inspired by a Fox Sports announcer's (Dick Stockton's) mispronunciation of Polamalu's name.

In January, 2007, he petitioned to change his legal name to his mother's maiden name (Polamalu), which he had been using for the last 15 years. His legal name had been Troy Aumua.

Polamalu's off-field interests include growing flowers, making furniture, and playing the piano.

Kennedy Pola, the running backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, is Polamalu's uncle. Pola has been coaching for Jacksonville since the 2005 season, and his Jaguars have beaten Polamalu's Steelers in four of the five meetings since then. Aoatoa Polamalu, another uncle of Polamalu, played nose tackle at Penn State from 1984–1988.

Polamalu is featured on the cover of the Scholastic children's book National Football League Megastars which profiles Polamalu and 14 other NFL stars.

Polamalu's wife Theodora gave birth to their first child, a son named Paisios, on October 31, 2008.

During Super Bowl XLIII, a commercial of Polamalu aired that had him do a remake of the famous "Mean Joe" Greene Coca-Cola commercial, except it was advertising for Coca-Cola Zero instead. Two Coke "brand managers" take the Coke Zero bottle away right when the kid was to give it to Polamalu, with Polamalu subsequently tackling one of the "brand managers", then instead of giving the kid his own jersey ripped the shirt off the "brand manager" he had tackled and tossed it to the kid. Greene, who like Polamalu lives a very quiet lifestyle off the field in contrast to his on-the-field play, liked the commercial and gave his stamp of approval.

He was announced as one of two players (with Larry Fitzgerald) who are on the cover of Madden NFL 10.

Troy and his family reside in Pittsburgh during the football season and San Diego, Californiamarker during the offseason.


  1. Beaver County Times Dad-to-be Polamalu may miss Monday's game
  2. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers Update: Polamalu will play vs. Redskins after birth of first child Friday
  3. [1]

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