Q&A: Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu met with reporters Tuesday and provided thoughtful answers to questions dealing with his hair, his home, the rumors concerning his time in Pittsburgh, and how the development of a new free safety will impact him. He also had some fun along the way.

Troy Polamalu, strong safety, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: Did you get any of your hair cut this year?

No.

Q: Will it ever be too long and hinder you on the field? If it gets to your knees, what will you do then?

Time will tell, I guess.

Q: With Jerome Bettis gone, is there one guy who steps up as the leader? Or is it leadership by committee?

It's leadership by committee and it was even when Jerome was here.

Q: How do you deal with the heat?

You live in it. I was here the whole off-season. A lot of the guys from Florida and Georgia and places like that, to them this is a cool, breezy day.

Q: Does the training staff here give you hydration guidelines they want you to follow during camp?

Not really, besides spreading their Gatorade propaganda. That's what it is -- propaganda.

Q: Did it anger you when the rumors came about that you don't want to re-sign here?

They're just rumors. Do you know what I mean? I don't think anybody should let any of that type of nonsense bother them.

Q: What are the rumors?

That I had like three kids coming (laughs). No. Rumors that I was going back out to the west coast.

Q: Isn't that a couple years away?

Exactly. It's all about today for me right now.

Q: How's camp been going for you so far? I know it's early in the game but how do you feel?

I feel good. Ask me in a couple weeks and you'll just get a yes or no (laughs).

Q: Will there be an adjustment for you with the new safety?

Yeah, there'll be a big adjustment. It's definitely different back there without Chris [Hope]. Whether or not that'll be more successful or not, we'll find out.

Q: Was it because you guys knew each other so well?

We went through the scout team together my rookie year and we broke into the starting lineup, so we learned everything together. We won a Super Bowl together. We went through all the stages of what a pair of safeties can go through.

Q: Say the new safety takes time to learn the defense. How will that limit you?

It's not just understanding the defense, but understanding me. We got to a point where Chris and I didn't even have to talk. I got to do what I do and he just reacted to it. To form that type of relationship is tough, being how different of a safety I am.

Q: Have you been working overtime with the new guys to further that relationship?

You really can't practice that unless you're on the field playing 11 on 11 or in these preseason games.

Q: Is it just a matter of time?

Yes.

Q: How do you treat rookies?

They're just friends like anybody else that you meet. I definitely don't like to tease them too much. Everybody's been a rookie and everybody's been through that stressful situation.

Q: What advice do you give them?

It's not all about football; it's about life. And I think that if they live their life that way, and approach football that way, then they won't have so much on their shoulders.

Q: Is this team as hungry as it was last year? Are things still the same?

Yeah. I don't know if there was even a hunger last year. We came in here and we had fun doing what we do. We had fun practicing. We have fun hanging out with each other. It's no different if we're out there with Joey (Porter) and Verron (Haynes) talking back and back to each other and laughing and competing. It's the same thing in our meeting room. It's the same thing if all the guys are together away from football.

Q: How do you have a winning team with everybody having so much fun?

If you approach it without that agenda of always trying to win, win, win, and living life like it's supposed to be but having fun and enjoying yourself, everything just takes care of itself.

Q: What did you do this summer?

Just stayed cooped up in my house. I took one three-day trip out to California.

Q: You stayed in Pittsburgh?

Yes.

Q: With three kids on the way you didn't stay cooped up that much did you?

(Laughs)Right, and an affair with Angelina Jolie as well.

Q: What about your next contract? Do you want to stay here?

Quite honestly it hasn't even crossed my mind, the fact of money, the fact of contracts and whatnot. But I told my wife after my second year that there's no better place to be than here in Pittsburgh. That's what Pittsburgh has over everybody else: this camaraderie of the team and the great coaching situation, how well Coach [Bill] Cowher takes care of you, the training staff, and the ownership.

Q: Other than Lynn Swann, you may be the first kid from California, who, in the offseason, decided to stay in Pittsburgh rather than go out there. Why?

It's home now. It really is home for me. It's nice to go out there. It's rejuvenating, but it's nice to be home.

Q: You're married but you don't have children yet, do you?

No.

Q: Other than the three on the way, right?

In Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland (laughs).

Q: When you do get out of your place, what do you enjoy about Pittsburgh?

I enjoy fly-fishing a lot. I learned that when I first came in here. Other than that it's pretty hard to go out here without getting hassled too much. You know, when I go out in California people could care less, even if you're a Tom Cruise – unless you're a paparazzi.

Q: Because they're used to it out there more?

Yes, and they don't follow football. They're not big fans of football like they are out here.

Q: Is it tough being such a big celebrity that you can't go out?

In some ways, yeah. But in some ways it's beautiful the way people support what we're doing. It sucks in a way if you're eating dinner and people are bothering you, but it's beautiful in a way when you have a kid that's only got five days to live and the biggest thing in his life is wanting to meet a Steeler. That's what's positive.

Q: Has that happened to you?

It's happened to me a few times and it's really awesome to affect people's lives, and you can truly save people's lives like that. I've been in situations where people are at home getting ready to die, doctors have given up on them, and they've been living like three, four months already. So it's really beautiful in that way that you can affect people.

Q: Is the emotional punch a good healthy dosage?

Yeah. In some ways, man, football is life here in Pittsburgh and it's their only hope. It's cool to be able to affect people that way.

Q: Have you seen people wearing your hairdo with wigs to the game?

Yeah. It's funny because at USC they had baby 'fros. Here, it's long hair.

Q: Do you enjoy the fact people identify you with your hair like that?

Yep. It doesn't matter to me. It's cool. It's fun.

Q: Do you sense your popularity here is due in part to the way you play? The way you fly around and hit people?

I like to see it in the way that I approach what I do in my living as a football player the way they do, in the blue-collar mentality. That term is thrown around a lot, but to say it and to live it and to experience it, even at a high-paying job like a football player, it's no different to a hard-paying construction worker or a landscaper. It is a blue-collar mentality.

Q: There was another interesting rumor going around here about you; that you were out to dinner and at the end of your meal you stood up and thanked everyone for not hassling you and then you paid everybody's bill. Was that true?

I actually have heard that rumor and it definitely was not me. But I thank that guy.


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