The return of football season is coming along with OTAs starting back up this week. That’s why we’re going to focus on a football player for Christian Athlete of the Week. This athlete is Troy Polamalu, the future Hall-of-Fame safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Polamalu is of American Samoan descent, in case you couldn’t notice by his last name and his long hair. Polamalu is actually his mother’s maiden name and he was raised by his mother’s brother in southern Oregon. Polamalu played at USC and was drafted 16th overall by the Steelers in the 2003 NFL Draft. He hardly saw the field his rookie year, but in 2004, he started every game and intercepted five passes, returning one of them for a touchdown.
The year 2005 was when Polamalu really came on the scene. He tied an NFL record with three sacks in a single game by a safety and finished with 91 total tackles. He was also part of the Super Bowl-winning team that beat Seattle 21-10 that year. 2008 was probably Polamalu’s most memorable year. He finished the regular season with 17 passes defended and seven interceptions. Not only that, but he helped guide the Steelers to another Super Bowl title when they beat the Arizona Cardinals that year. In 2010, Polamalu won Defensive Player of the Year Award for defending 11 passes, intercepting seven of them, returning one of them for a touchdown and recording a sack as well. That year didn’t work out for him and his team in postseason when they lost to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. As of right now, Polamalu has 32 career interceptions and 12 sacks. He has been the backbone of Pittsburgh’s defense for many years and still has some good years left in him at the age of 33.
In 2007, Polamalu and his wife dedicated their lives to Christ by converting to Orthodox Christianity. That same year, he took a pilgrimage to Orthodox Christian sites in Greece and Turkey. He seldom gives interviews, but when he does, he often speaks of the role his spirituality plays in his life. Polamalu has said that he tries to separate himself from his profession as much as possible, including not watching football games at home. He prays after each play and on the sidelines. Here is a video that better explains his spiritual walk with Christ:
A soft spoken man who has dealt with the issue of pride, Polamalu has tried his best to live his life for Christ on and off the football field. Some people say that Orthodox Christianity is not necessarily the same as the Christian faith theologically and Biblically, but Polamalu disagrees.
“Orthodoxy is like an abyss of beauty that’s just endless,” Polamalu said. “I have read the Bible many times. But after fasting, and being baptized Orthodox, it’s like reading a whole new Bible. You see the depth behind the words so much more clearly.” (Credit: Patheos.com)
As long as your lifestyle is pleasing to God, it does not matter what denomination you follow. Speaking of lifestyle, Polamalu does lead an interesting one. During his free time, he surfs, grows flowers, makes furniture and plays the piano. Talk about the most interesting man in the world! All jokes aside, Polamalu lives his life with a passion for Jesus Christ, which is something all young athletes can look up to.