When it comes to feuds between teams and former players, has there ever been a more dignified one than the current disagreement involving the Steelers and the great Troy Polamalu?
In fairness to the Steelers, the feud appears to be one-sided. Polamalu, the former strong safety who carried Pittsburgh to many victories throughout his storied 12-year career, is the one holding onto the hostilities; the reason why is no secret to anyone who has been paying attention since Polamalu’s last season in 2014: he wanted to continue to play, but the Steelers felt it was best for him to get on with his life’s work.
A similar situation arose following the 2011 campaign when the Steelers cut long-time receiver Hines Ward, a two-time Super Bowl champion and the face of the franchise for many seasons. Ward wanted to continue to play and even contemplated shopping his services as a free agent before ultimately deciding to retire as a member of the black and gold.
Ward never really expressed any outward animosity toward his former team and is still very-much a part of the organization. But then, Hines was always a little more brand conscience than Polamalu. He was always a little more concerned with his legacy and his place in Steelers history.
With that in mind, it’s easy to grasp just how touched Ward must be knowing he will be inducted into the Steelers Hall of Honor as part of a 2019 class that also includes his former head coach, Bill Cowher. An emotional player during his career, Ward will likely shed a tear or two when the latest class is officially inducted at some point during the regular season.
Troy should be there right along side Ward and the Chin.
Sadly, despite his greatness, despite a career resume that screams First Ballot Hall of Famer (the one in Canton), Polamalu isn’t part of the Steelers’ latest class of HOH inductees.
That’s unfortunate and perhaps a sign that this feud isn’t so one-sided after all.
Again, in fairness to the Steelers, this is probably more about optics than anything else.
Considering Troy still holds a grudge against his former team, he likely wouldn’t show up for the ceremony. But how valid is any Steelers Hall of Honor that doesn’t include arguably the greatest safety in team history?
Yes, it would look bad if Polamalu, who is still a very young man and has yet to reach his 40th birthday, didn’t bother to show up for something that honored him specifically. But the longer this feud continues, the more awkward it’s going to be when the two sides eventually decide to bury the hatchet (at least one hopes there will be a time when this happens). What better way to extend an olive branch than to bestow such an honor on a humble man that respectfully remains silent about his feelings even though any negative quote about his former team would instantly put him back in the spotlight?
Since Polamalu is still a young man, I’m guessing the Steelers probably feel that there’s plenty of time for him to come around. I’m assuming they want to do it up right, Troy’s official Hall of Honor induction.
But what better time than now? Polamalu was front-and-center during the Steelers last Super Bowl era, a time that is disappearing further and further into the rear-view mirror with each passing year.
Tomorrow is guaranteed for no one—including players and fans.
It normally takes two to tango, but not in a situation like this. The Steelers need to immortalize Troy Polamalu sooner rather than later. And they should do so whether he decides to show up for the ceremony or not.