Troy Polamalu, who has missed significant time the past two years battling injuries, has been granted permission by Mike Tomlin and the Steelers organization to workout in Los Angeles rather than joining the team in Pittsburgh as it resumes offseason team activities tomorrow.
Polamalu is recovering from offseason knee surgery, and wouldn't be able to participate in any football related drills anyway. Instead, he'll spend time rehabbing with trainer Marv Marinovich at his Sports Lab in Orange County, Calif. Tomlin is just fine with that:
It probably works for him because he's sold on it, and that's part of it," Tomlin said this week. "The reality is he's recovering from an injury, he's unable to participate in organized team activities, so it provides an opportunity for him to do what he feels good about.
So who is this Marinovich guy? Well, does the name Todd Marinovich ring a bell? As in the guy who is widely considered one of the biggest NFL Draft busts of all time? Marv is Todd's father.
While doing some research on him, I stumbled across this article about the family , written in 1990 in the New York Times. Amongst other things, the article highlights how Marinovich, a team-captain on the undefeated 1962 national championship winning USC team, began his career in sports medicine and training.
From the time he was a young athlete, Marv Marinovich had searched for answers to questions about how the body works.
''I can remember asking my dad: 'What can I do to improve my performance? What would be the plan?' ''
His career became an endless search. He studied the biomechanics of running, metabolism, and nutrition at a time when many football coaches clung to the belief that water breaks were harmful to an athlete's sense of purpose.
He researched philosophies of athletic development in Eastern Europe. He investigated the concepts of visualization and mental rehearsal.
Interesting stuff. Clearly Marinovich has had varying degrees of success with his understudies over the years. Many years ago, ESPN.com named him one 'Sports' Most Harmful Relatives' as a result of his tenure working with son Todd. On the other hand, his techniques have received critical acclaim across the globe.
Chet Furhman, the Steelers strength and conditioning coach during the Bill Cowher era, also signed off on Polamalu's regiment when he was employed by the organization:
We started off with him trying out what we did, but then went back to what he wanted to do," said Fuhrman. "I just felt if that's what he wanted and, in his mind, that's what's best for him, let him do what's best for him.
The premise behind Marinovich's program seems to be deemphasizing the importance of strenuous weight-lifting, and instead focusing on working muscle fibers less stressfully in rapid-fire conditions. According to Marinovich, Polamalu had been incorporating some of his techniques into his workout plans even before they started working together. Only Troy wasn't aware of it. Anyway, if we can take him for his word, the two should be working hard this next month and a half or so to get Polamalu back into form:
I've never been around an athlete like Troy in all my years. In all aspects, it's fun for me just to be around him.
So, best of luck Troy in sunny Southern California. May your work put in out there lead you back to the dominance us fans grew to love and expect just a few short years ago. And while we're at it, good work Mr. Tomlin in your decision to be flexible. I speak for all Steelers fans, I believe, when I say that I love our chances exponentially more if Polamalu stays healthy and performs in 2008 like he did in 2004 and 2005.