“It means everything to me,” he said, “more so significantly for me in particular because it helps define my career. I’ve been surrounded by a lot of Hall of Fame people in my life, obviously being drafted by a Hall of Fame coach and having played with two Hall of Fame players.”
Indeed that’s part of what will make the 2021 Hall of Fame Weekend (Aug. 5-9) extra-special for Polamalu, not to mention Steelers fans and the organization at-large. On Sat. Aug. 7, he will be enshrined along with one of his two former head coaches, Bill Cowher, as well as fellow former Steelers safety Donnie Shell. Then the Sun. Aug. 8 ceremonies will include Polamalu’s teammate, Alan Faneca, as well as late Steelers scout/front office executive Bill Nunn.
‘God willing, this season I will … make it back to Pittsburgh’
Meanwhile, Polamalu was asked whether he’d be returning to Heinz Field for this year’s Hall of Honor ceremony, which is expected to highlight the Steelers Hall of Honor classes of both 2020 and 2021. Polamalu is part of the former, along with fellow defenders James Farrior, Greg Lloyd, Mike Wagner and Dwight White.
Polamalu went on to offer a big reveal, considering that he is believed to have been estranged from the organization since the end of his playing days. (It seems the team strongly encouraged him to retire, while he believed he could still play).
“God willing, this season my family and I will be able to make it back to Pittsburgh … for a couple games at least,” he said.
Polamalu: My career ended ‘at the most perfect time’
Polamalu went to dispute the notion that he has remained distant from the organization since his retirement and insisted that his career came to a close at the “most perfect” time.
“I’m so grateful that I’m here today with the faculties that I have, with the health that I have,” he added.
He also professed to have had a “great relationship” with the organization since his career ended.
“I [have been] out to dinner several times with Mr. Rooney, whenever [he and Mrs. Rooney] come out to L.A.,” he began. “I’m still close with the family and many of the owners. I don’t make it out to Pittsburgh much because my kids are deeply involved with sports but my relationship with the organization has been great.”
He admitted though, that he hasn’t done a good job of following the team or the performances of its individual players. “That’s where I really rely on [former] teammates like Ike [Taylor] and Ryan [Clark], who are still rely tied to the game…. Our group chats are pretty interesting,” he said, adding a bit of unaddressed intrigue to the proceedings.
Last but not least, Polamalu was asked about what Pittsburgh means to him now, having had some time to reflect.
“In terms of what Pittsburgh means to me…. It’s tough to separate Pittsburgh fans from the city of Pittsburgh. Anybody that grows up in Pittsburgh understands that if you’re in Pittsburgh and you’re not a Steelers fan, you’re not from Pittsburgh,’ he said with a hearty laugh. “You’re just kind of like a passer-by.”
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