Aug 8, 2021
Troy Polamalu Hall of Fame Speech Transcript 2021
Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu was inducted into the 2021 Hall of Fame, and gave a speech on August 7, 2021. Read his full hall of fame induction speech here.
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Presenting Troy Polamalu for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dick LeBeau.
Troy Polamalu: (01:41)
Thank you, guys. Thank you. Congratulations to the class of 2020, the class of 2021, and welcome back to fill the gold jackets. Your presence, without a doubt, is most definitely felt. Thank you for being here. I love football. I love football. It was my entire life since as long as I can remember. I fostered an obsession with the game early on that I modeled after meticulous regiments of some of the greatest artists of past. Dickens, Beethoven, [Demastini 00:02:18]. These great men were known to have a beast-like work ethic, coupled with an unwavering ability to create until perfection, beyond what most believe the human body will allow. To me, that’s what it takes from being ordinary to extraordinary. It is the willingness to push beyond what the brain says to the body is possible and create a new order of boundaries for one’s self. It is the ability to learn from greatness around you and curate for yourself a unique version of their efforts.
Troy Polamalu: (02:53)
Football challenged me mentally, physically, and spiritually, in a way that no other feature of life could. So I was hooked. I had to succeed in order to quench this desire, or I knew I would have lived a life without direction. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey to make this feat possible, to give me the opportunity to live my passion fulfilled and finally rest knowing that I achieved my objective. I come from a culture where discipline, humility, and respect are not only the foundation to our survival, but the key to our existence. I am a first generation American Samoan and proudly representing my family’s lineage to America through the NFL.
Troy Polamalu: (04:07)
My uncle, Kennedy, who is a current running backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings, he instilled in me an authentic respect and passion for the game. His intensity has inspired not just me, the countless athletes, to revere and love the game at all costs. Uncle, you’re a true coach, not just in sport, but in life. My first real introduction to the NFL was at our first full pad of practice when Hines Ward and I hit. Listen, it was my legs that subsequently buckled and he held me up like a toddler and said, “I’m not like any other wide receiver.” No doubt, Hines. I look forward to sharing the stage with you one day. My locker partner and mentor, unfortunately, was a Notre Dame running back, whose name doesn’t need to be mentioned. Jerome, I know you wish you could have been here, but your life experience and knowledge spoke a language that I was accustomed to from my older brothers and cousins that looked out for me. Thank you so much.
Troy Polamalu: (05:28)
The patriarch of Steelers football, Joe Greene. He defined a standard that we would all struggle to emulate decades later. When Joe was at the front office, the scouting department, elated for a defensive prospect, sought Joe’s approval. He wouldn’t give it, because this prospect then proper retaliate when slapped. This story planted deep in my psyche, when a rival opponent stood over me the game, let’s just say the NFL made more money that day. No matter how times have changed, as Coach Tomlin often says, the standard is the standard.
Troy Polamalu: (06:12)
My rookie year was a challenge. I couldn’t make a play of any significance. I recall reading the newspaper early in the season labeling me a first round bust. When I vowed not to read any sports column hoping it would somehow change, Mr. Dan Rooney approached me before our very last game and said, “Don’t pay attention to what they’re saying about you. I think you’re doing fine.” I said, “Mr. Rooney, they’re still talking bad about me?” Coach Cower would teach us to embrace misery by forcing us to practice outside no matter the weather, recalibrating us to love the hot humid camp days and bask in the bitter cold frost of game days. He instructed us to embody the yinzer spirit of hard work, humility, and toughness, coupled with loyalty so that we can accurately represent the city of Pittsburgh. Thank you, Coach.
Troy Polamalu: (07:07)
Mike Logan, the starting safety my rookie year, shared his full knowledge of the game, wholeheartedly showing a level of humility that helped shape my career. Like many other teammates, his selflessness paved the greater opportunity for others at his own expense. It is unnatural in the most competitive environment to train your replacement, yet this is our culture, Steeler culture. These virtues I learned while playing for the Steelers are what make the legacy of the black and gold timeless. They are passed down in the locker room from the Steel Curtain to anyone who valiantly wears the black and gold, creating a brotherhood that is deeper than money, business, and winning. To be a Steeler is to consider others before you consider yourself, to protect your brother even from himself, to give support at your own expense, And when wearing the black and gold suit of armor, make sure nobody desecrates it disrespects it. Most importantly, we ourselves don’t dishonor it.
Troy Polamalu: (08:03)
The only approval any Steeler should seek is to earn the approval from previous legends who have dawned the black and gold. And if you’ve really earned their respect, they’ll say, “You could’ve played with us.” What I truly appreciate about the Steeler way is that at its core, it’s the success of a family, a culture based on the essential virtues any person respects and honors, humility, passion, resilience, service, and legacy. Being the youngest son, brother, cousin, and nephew leaves me with a lot of older siblings, moms, and dads. They have given me everything anyone could have possibly given, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I never had to ask for anything. I was nourished by everyone in every way.
Troy Polamalu: (08:50)
Living with different ethnicities, traditions, ideologies left me little to say or ask for. I’ve lived and learned from all my heroes. But like most young people, I also admired all of these amazing athletes that have influenced their sport and culture, and even world history. Beautifully, the [inaudible 00:09:08] inspired lives where sports served as the pulpit, patriarchs of culture in sport, leaders. We all know and aspire to have those qualities. What better person teaches the game of football than Hall of Fame defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau? Six of our 11 years together, our team led the NFL in total defense. To be drafted by a Hall of Fame coach, Bill cower, to observe the development of another Hall of Fame coach in Mike Tomlin. I had a Hall of Fame college coach at USC. My shrink conditioning coach was Marv Marinovich. And I even had Tom Brady’s body coach, Alex Guerrero.
Troy Polamalu: (09:51)
Some would say that I was destined for me to stand before you tonight and set this achievement. I would agree. I’ve received spiritual guidance from a saint. And for those who know my wife, Theodora, truly understand how blessed I am. Baby, thank you seems so disingenuous. I love you. Please forgive me for not always being a Hall of Fame in every aspect of my life. Boys, the best thing I could do for you guys is love your mother. I love you guys. Thank you. Thank you for holding me accountable. I’m a follower. Everyone’s little brother, nephew, son. I love and thank God for my life because I have all of you, my family, the biggest family in the world, Steeler Nation. Thank you.
Rich Eisen: (10:40)
What a beautiful speech, and the place here is lit.