OFF THE BENCH: Hey Troy, nice to talk to you. Jazz musicians have been known to immerse themselves so much in their music that they almost literally forget where they are or what theyíre doing. You ever snap yourself out of playing football in that kind of manner?
TROY POLAMALU: At times, I would say. But I guess training more for me. Football is pretty much played 16 times a year, where training is kind of a year-round thing. So obviously, more training than anything.
The best thing about football for me is the reacting. Itís a lot of instincts. But training for me, itís more for the meditating. And I spend more time training than actually playing football. So I get into that zone during training more than anything.
Iíve noticed that after every huge hit you lay out, youíre usually pretty calm afterward. Most people are jumping up and down, celebrating themselves, while youíre more regulated. Is sportsmanship a big part of your game?
I dunno, I think the part of who you are as an individual is important. Different people react in different ways in different circumstances. The great thing in life is you can make these choices. You can be very excited in one moment and then get completely humbled in the next. I enjoy the humble part of the game, whether itís good or bad for me.
Do you think your calm demeanor is a little bit intimidating for opposing wide receivers who are used to safeties who are going nuts after every good play?
Oh, no. Iím not intimidating at all. (Laughs). James Harrisonís intimidating. I just try to go out there and play football the best way that I know how.
So you spent a lot of last season battling foot and leg injuries. Did that effect you on the football field where it was in the back of your mind, thinking, ĎOh man, I canít make that play that I usually make because of this lingering doubt in my brain about my knee.í
Nah, as a football player you just deal with injuries. Itís all part of the football game. Iíve dealt with injuries as much as everybody else. People have dealt with worse injuries than Iíve dealt with. Itís all part of the game, all part of getting that tackle.
Iíve always wondered; in the old days, people used to all go out to dinner together as a team. Now that most athletes are multimillionaires, is there still that team bonding camaraderie off the field?
Yeah, we do. Many of us break up into groups by position, like defensive backs. Sometimes weíll bring in some linebackers. Running backs may join us. But yeah, we do get together.
Now with the horrible lockout situation coming up, Iím sure youíre financially sound, but what are the second-string guys, the guys who live more day to day with their paychecks, what do you think theyíll do for money?
Well, they make more money than the general public as well. I think the people who are really going to need help are the ones working security. Working concessions. They are people who are really counting on that income. These are people that have it as their second, third or fourth job and now theyíre in need of another paycheck. I think theyíre really going to affected by this lockout, and Iím hoping they can make it through.
I see you guys with the Steelers are moving a lot pre-snap, while for example the Philadelphia Eagles are completely still. How important is that misdirection to confuse the offense before the snap?
Well, itís different. Itís different for each team. Some teams like to disguise their coverage, disguise their blitz, because some teams donít want to show their hand because then you donít know the weakness of the defense and now you donít know where to attack it. So, itís like in anything in life or like anything in sports.
I noticed that when youíre on the football field, you have that Ray Lewis quality to you where you can just run through someone. Thereís no hesitation to your game, which is really amazing to me. Howíd you develop those instincts? Were you given them or is that from years and years of preparation?
Well, I donít think I have a Ray Lewis instinct by any means. I donít think Iím anywhere near that level. I guess I developed what I got from practice, I would say. Not that I have Ďití, but I think to get it you need more and more practice, more and more repetition, like anything.
Now with the potential lockout, Chad Johnson of the Bengals is trying to play some soccer. Do you think other athletes will follow in his footsteps and try other sports?
Eh, you know, it takes a tremendous amount of skill to be a football player. And some of these guys have enough skills to do other sports. Soccer could be one. Basketball could be another. Things where you need incredible hand eye coordination are always options. I think a football player would be able to adapt to a lot of sports.
Iíve watched a lot of Steelers football in the past, and I always see a little glimmer in your eye, a little sadness that your greatest ability is to hit someone extremely hard to stop them in their paths from doing what they want most in life. Do you ever feel for the other player after you tackle him?
Um, yeah, in a way. You donít want to hurt anybody. I donít think anybody really wants to go out and really injure somebody. The nature of the game is a very violent and physical game, and thatís the way the game is played.
James Harrison has always been known as a very mean guy, but Iíve been told heís a very funny and personable man when you really get to know him. Are there any cool Harrison stories you have where heís actually portrayed in a good light?
Oh, I have a lot of those. Heís a great, great person. He does have that enigma about him that heís mean all the time, and he may look it when heís out on the football field, but heís really a great great person. Very funny, and honest. A great football player.