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Troy Polamalu's Hall of Fame speech was one of the best ever

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

(Photo by Ron Schwane-Pool/Getty Images)

Troy Polamalu is a soft-spoken person, who doesn't say much. But when he does speak, it's impactful. Polamalu's Hall of Fame speech was quite simply a thing of beauty, as it was pure and straight from the heart. I was literally speechless after his speech, as it just contained so much wisdom and knowledge. And Polamalu told it in a way that only he could pull off.

I mean, Polamalu began his speech by mentioning great artists like Charles Dickens Beethoven and Demosthenes who had obsessive work ethics to perfect their craft (only Troy could do that). But he tied it together to football and it all made sense because that's exactly how he played the game.

"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, Demosthenes," Polamalu said. "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 the body is possible and create a new order of boundaries for oneself. It is the ability to learn from greatness around you and curate for yourself a unique version of their efforts.

"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 where I knew I would have lived a life without direction."

Polamalu also talked about his Samoan heritage and the humility of the Faʻa Samoa way of life.

"I come from a culture where discipline, humility and respect are not only the foundation to our survival, but the key to our existence," Polamalu said before letting down his long black hair. "I am a first-generation American Samoan and proudly representing my family's lineage to America to the NFL.

"My uncle Kennedy (Polamalu) instilled in me, who's a current running backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings, an authentic respect and passion for the game, his intensity has inspired not just me, but countless athletes to revere and love the game at all costs. Uncle, you're a true coach, not just in sport, but in life."

Polamalu was the quintessential Steeler with the way he carried himself on and off the field. Always displaying humility and selflessness. And during his speech, he mentioned Mike Logan, who Polamalu said displayed the Steelers culture to him in his rookie season.

"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," Polamalu said. "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, Steelers culture. These are 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 validly wears the black and gold. Creating a brotherhood that is deeper than money, business and winning. To be a Steelers 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 and make sure nobody desecrates it, disrespects it. Most importantly we ourselves don't dishonor. The only approval any Steeler should seek is the early approval from previous legends who have donned the black and gold. And if you've really earned the respect, they'll say, 'You could have played with us.'

"What I truly appreciate about the Steelers way, is that at its core it's success of a family, a culture based on the essential virtues any person respects and honors. Humility, passion, resilience, service and legacy."

Listening to Polamalu talk about the Steelers culture and the Steelers way quite honestly gave me chills. I think it rivals Jack Lambert's famous quote from his Hall of Fame speech in 1990, "If I could start my life all over again, I would be a professional football player, and you damn well better believe I would be a Pittsburgh Steeler!"

Like his Samoan heritage, Polamalu's faith and family are also huge parts of his life. And his biggest family is Steelers Nation.

"I'm a follower, everyone's little brother, nephew son," Polamalu said. "I love God, I love and thank God for my life because I have all of you, my family, the biggest family in the world, Steelers Nation. Thank you."

In addition to winning two Super Bowls with the Steelers, Polamalu was an eight-time Pro Bowler and was named first-team All-Pro four times in his Hall of Fame career, along with being named Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. Polamalu was also named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and is a member of the Steelers All-Time Team. He is one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game, but he's an even better human being. He's truly one of a kind, and his Hall of Fame speech was one of the best ever.

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