Return Of Troy

In this group Q and A, the great Steelers safety talks about meeting the late Chuck Noll, his new playing partner, coming together on defense, his health, and his outlook.

Troy Polamalu, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: Troy, what are your thoughts on the passing of Chuck Noll?

TP: There is no Steeler legacy without him. He's as big a part of this organization as the Rooneys are. It's obviously very sad. I did get an opportunity to meet him one time, but at that time I had no idea about NFL football. It was like my rookie year. I didn't know about Steeler history and I didn't know that he was the head coach. But he definitely embodied a certain aura about him that was very special. It's obviously very sad, a sad day for Steeler Nation.

Q: What were the circumstances of that meeting?

TP: I was walking through the hall upstairs. It was during my first year.

Q: What do you want to see changed regarding the defense this season?

TP: (Pause) I don't know. Maybe nothing. We've just got to play more solid, take advantage of the opportunities that are given us, as far as turnovers, as far as sacks, be more sound in our assignment, and hopefully we'll have the success we've had in the past.

Q: Regarding your new sidekick at safety, what is the time frame for comfortability?

TP: What's kind of weird about that, it's never been a relationship thing, a big thing as far as who plays free and who plays strong. I think what made Chris Hope and I very successful on the back end is that we were great friends. Same with Ryan (Clark) and I, we were great friends. But on any other team it's just a plug and play. It's just throw somebody in there, throw another in there, and they just play their positions. You know, the strength of this organization has always been the camaraderie and the relationships of its players off the field, and then we stand up for one another on the field. We have to develop those relationships. There are a lot of new faces here, a lot of young guys. That's one thing we have to impart on them. It's not putting your best, most talented 11, but the 11 that work best together out there.

Q: How do you get to know the new guys?

TP: The great thing here, the foundation, is they draft good people. That's a very big part of their assessment in bringing talent in. It's easy from that way.

Q: Is it strange for you to look around and see so many new faces you don't know?

TP: It's strange to be the oldest, most-experienced guy in this locker room. I never thought that would happen. Jerome was here it seems like yesterday. He's one of the greatest running backs ever to play the game, and, you know, he's old (laughs). And here I am. I guess I'm old, too.

Q: You explained last year how you underwent some new therapy on your calf. Has that continued?

TP: Yeah, I stayed working with my trainer Marv Marinovich and my phyiscal therapist.

Q: Is this training camp big because of the relationship with Mike Mitchell and some of the other new guys? Is that where you'll get the camaraderie you were talking about?

TP: It doesn't hurt it, for sure.

Q: Will you approach your relationship with Mike the same way you did with Ryan?

TP: Yeah, like I would form the relationship with anybody. It's got to come from an authentic place. It can't be fake in any way.

Q: Did you expect the extension?

TP: (Pause) No, I didn't expect it. I really didn't care. I really didn't know. It wasn't really a thought of mine. I'm happy that it happened.

Q: Keith Butler told me today this is the fastest defense he's seen here. Did you sense that on your first day?

TP: Yeah, there's definitely a lot of speed out there. You can look on paper at everybody's time and see there's a lot of speed. Everybody's great in shorts, though. We could put Usain Bolt and the whole track team back there, but it doesn't make us a good football team, either. So, we'll see how everything works out. Hopefully it works out for us.

Q: On that paper it still says 4.3 next to Troy Polamalu's name, right?

TP: Just my number (laughs).


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