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Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was one in a million, both on and off the field

Troy Polamalu leaves behind a legacy both on and off the field no one will ever be capable of emulating.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As I stared at the ceiling in bed last night trying to sleep, all I could think about was how as a 32-year-old man I was sad about the retirement of a professional football player. My wife didn't understand, not many would, but Troy Polamalu's decision to hang up the cleats has had more of an impact on me than his previous teammates who have retired. Yes, that includes Hines Ward and Jerome Bettis.

The difference with Polamalu is simple. Although Bettis and Ward were great and epitomized what it meant to be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, they were never considered the best at their position, and certainly not the greatest of all time. Troy fits that bill perfectly.

Whether it was his unique look, the style in which he played or the amazing plays which made you shake your head in utter amazement of what you just witnessed. Troy Polamalu was a one in a million player, but his unique ability to transcend modern football didn't stop on the field. Polamalu was a regular at local children's hospitals, always participated in local charity work and was more than generous with his fans.

It was Polamalu who would constantly give out tickets and gift cards to fans via social media throughout the season. It was Polamalu who would give his time to help those in need, and it was Troy Polamalu who went about his business as only he could.

Some might say he was a loner, rarely trained with anyone else and didn't enjoy the usual amenities which come with a multi-million dollar job. Polamalu didn't wear fancy clothes or jewelry. Quite frankly, he was a modest as they come. All it took was watching Troy make a tackle, stand up and make the sign of the cross on his chest to know this wasn't just your average player.

I am always proud to say I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and always will until my last breath, but when talking about Troy Polamalu you took extra pride in the fact he played for your favorite team. He wasn't just unbelievably talented, but didn't carry the baggage of others with arrests, allegations and other issues off the field.

I will miss Troy Polamalu. Regardless of his play the past few seasons, I will miss seeing No. 43 doing insane things on the field like jumping over the line of scrimmage to try and stop a 4th and inches play. I will miss him because I doubt you see much of Polamalu going forward. You won't see Polamalu on ESPN or doing color commentary for CBS on Sundays. It just isn't his style. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we all will miss Troy Polamalu, not just for what he did on the field, but for what he did off it as well.