When Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was young, he thought about becoming a soldier.
Both of his grandfathers served (later on, he married a woman whose grandfathers were in the military too). He had many high school teammates and friends who went into the military. Many of his cousins did too.
Had the whole football thing not worked out for Polamalu, he was interested in going into the military as well.
"Absolutely, for sure," Polamalu said in a phone interview with Shutdown Corner. "I've always been fascinated by the military, the discipline they have and the sacrifices they make to defend the country. It's something I've always been interested in."
The special forces branch of the military is especially interesting to Polamalu. He has met many Navy SEALs, Green Berets and Delta Force officers through various programs since he joined the Steelers.
And even though Polamalu is probably headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and is one of the fastest and most powerful safeties to ever play the game, he humbly said he's not sure he had what it took to do make it in the special forces.
"I don't know if I would have had the mental strength or physical strength to do it," Polamalu said. "These guys are soldiers, but we call them heroes. They're people we look up to in our family."
Polamalu's ties to the military has led him to working with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which is why he was getting his hair cut on Monday, which is also Veterans Day.
He wasn't getting a flat top or anything, but was cutting off a three-inch lock of his famous hair as a way to bring attention to the VFW programs and services that help veterans in need and raise money through VFWManeEvent.com. It's a pretty big deal to him, considering he hasn't had a full haircut in more than 11 years.
"Obviously I was hesitant," said Polamalu, who was cutting his hair in partnership with Head & Shoulders, a shampoo he endorses. "My hair has become part of my identity, it's almost an appendage to me. But if this can raise money and awareness to help veterans, I'm happy to do it."
On the field, Polamalu is experiencing something pretty new to him: a bad Steelers season, at least to this point. The Steelers are 3-6, even after Sunday's win against Buffalo. Polamalu said he feels for the younger players, who haven't had a chance to experience the same success the veterans have. Pittsburgh didn't win a playoff game during the 2011 season, didn't make the playoffs in 2012 and have an uphill battle to get to the postseason this year.
"It's hard to convey to them the urgency and stress to them how awesome it is to go to a Super Bowl or make a playoff run, and the excitement of that," Polamalu.
Polamalu is also running out of NFL seasons. He is 32, and has dealt with many injury issues because of his physical style. He gets many questions about when he might retire, but his answer remains the same. He has no idea.
"I live my life day to day," Polamalu said. "When you life day to day, it's hard to talk about what will happen year to year."
- - - - - - -
- American Football
- Military & Defense
- Troy Polamalu