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The subject of a favorite Steelers player came up pretty easily. After all, it’s a pretty simple question to ask.
So, I asked Tom, the co-author of Immaculate: How the Steelers Saved Pittsburgh, who is his favorite Steelers player of all time?
And, as a fan since birth, Tom quickly answered: Lynn Swann. Then, he turned the tables and asked me. That’s when that simple question became … not so simple.
Remember, I wasn’t a fan of the Steelers growing up. In fact, the Steelers were too often like gum on the soles of my shoes, ruining many an otherwise pleasant autumn or winter afternoon by slapping around one of my favorite teams, like the Dallas Cowboys.
I grew to respect the Steelers organization once I hit my twenties in the 1980s, but it was respect, not fandom. Life placed me in Seattle, and being pre-Internet and all, I, over time, adopted the Seahawks as my favorite team.
Still respected the Steelers. But, I cheered for the Seahawks. Which, by the way, wasn’t all that easy in the 1990s.
In writing Immaculate, I watched a lot of old games on YouTube and read many accounts of Steelers legends, both past and not quite present. And, the names of my formative years came bursting forward. Mean Joe Green, LC Greenwood, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Andy Russell, Mel Blount, Mike Wagner, Mike Webster, John Stallworth, Rocky Bleier, Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw, Donnie Shell, James Harrison, and so many more.
After thinking it over a bit, I went with a guy who drew my eye on so many plays, that being safety Troy Polamalu.
Interesting story about Troy Polamalu. You see, in 2007, Troy Polamalu changed his name to … Troy Polamalu. Really.
Polamalu was born Troy Benjamin Aumua. He had used his mother’s maiden name for 15 years, and finally got around to changing it legally. All of us fans, of course, had always known him as Troy Polamalu.
We also knew him for his incomparable competitive desire, his non-stop motor, and long, curly hair that still demands shampoo commercials to this day.