Last Updated: 10:14 AM, February 4, 2011
Posted: 2:13 AM, February 4, 2011
DALLAS — On the side of the Omni Hotel facing Tom Landry Highway, you couldn’t miss a huge representation of the Lombardi Trophy. To its left stood an image of Aaron Rodgers. To its right stood an image of Troy Polamalu. Someone must have known something. Because Polamalu is the one Steeler who can wreck Super Bowl XLV for the Packers.
And now come 10 words all of Steelers Nation has been waiting to hear since Polamalu began being diminished by an Achilles tendon injury: “I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Polamalu told The Post.
If Rodgers has difficulty sleeping tomorrow night, it will be because he sees the Defensive Player of the Year in his nightmares. Hair today, gone tomorrow with your Super Bowl dream.
It’s strange to see a safety make such a big difference, according to legendary 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.“He must be a great student of the game,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. “He just plays fast and kinda instinctively. Whatever he sees, he kinda goes full flow and runs as hard as he can and makes plays.”
“These guys that have an impact, usually not at that position,” Montana said. “Most of those guys are usually guys that either got their hand on the ground or are on the end of the line, someone like a Lawrence Taylor that is constantly disrupting things ... but not from that position.”
Former 49ers receiver Jerry Rice was asked if he has seen a safety impact a game the way Polamalu does.
“I have never seen a guy ... he’s like a crazy man on the field. A crazy man, but he makes plays, and I think maybe it’s the hair.” Rice said, then laughed, “If they cut his hair, that might take his power away.”
So what makes Troy Polamalu Troy Polamalu.
“The Superman cape,” Steelers receiver Hines Ward said. “You look at him now, he’s all shy and timid. He lays down the hair, [he’s] the craziest, wild man is out there. But he plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
“I remember in the preseason, he was out of the game and standing on the sideline, he had an interception, he wasn’t even in the game. The ball came right to him. That’s how special he is. Hopefully he can have another big game and exploit some of the things and contain Aaron Rodgers and their receiving corps a little bit.”
Polamalu speaks softly and carries a big presence on the field.
“Troy’s a beast,” Ward said. “He’s like the Tasmanian Devil. When the hair goes down, he just does things very subtly, but a lot of guys don’t really want to mess with Troy out on the football field.”
Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden sometimes finds himself looking with wonder at Polamalu, even on the field.
“He’s like a snake with a lot of venom,” McFadden said. “Off the football field, he’s the nicest person. And then on the football field, he transforms into this ... animal. They call Kobe the Black Mamba, ’cause that’s supposed to be the most deadliest snake on earth. And that’s the same with Troy — he bites you, you’re gone.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is thankful Polamalu is on his side.
“He’s really, really smart, and he sees things, he can cover so much ground,” Roethlisberger said. “He practices in tennis shoes on a grass field, and still makes every play.”
The defensive backs call themselves the Jackson Five. Polamalu is Michael Jackson, of course.
“As reluctant as he is to be the star, he is,” free safety Ryan Clark said. “When I’m older, when I’m at the barbershop, I’m gonna tell people, ‘Yeah, man, I played with Troy Polamalu.’ I’m gonna be just like Jermaine — livin’ off a dream.”
His teammates struggle to pinpoint Polamalu’s best play ever.
“Me and Ike [Taylor] were talking about that [Wednesday],” McFadden said. “The Charger pick [one-handed scoop] was pretty good in ‘08, but when we played the ‘05 AFC Championship Game against Denver, it was a fourth-down play, and he got smashed by a pulling guard, and on his way coming down he was already on his way up, and made the tackle for a loss.”
Polamalu’s humility prevents him from tooting his horn.
“There’s too much of the book left to be written,” he said. “And after it’s over with, I’ll be happy to look back and appreciate the times that I’ve had playing football, but it’s tough to do that now.”
Superman ready for Super Sunday.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/more_sports/facing_healthy_polamalu_is_hair_CDK5M1gdD2r0hcZUgXbxsJ#ixzz1Eoyim1l7