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The Steelers like Troy Polamalu

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If cash is an indicator of how much your team loves you, then by safety salary standards the Steelers looooooooooove them some Polamalu:

Troy Polamalu has agreed a four year contract extension worth just over $30 million with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The contract extension makes him the highest paid player on the team, a reflection of the dedication he brings to his play and the importance of his defensive flexibility for the Steelers. It's safe to say that the guys over at SBN Steelers blog Behind the Steel Curtain are pleased about this.

The team are also enthusiastic about the contract extension:

"I'm very excited about this (contract)," said new Steelers coach M ike Tomlin, who no longer must worry about Polamalu possibly leaving after this season.

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"Troy Polamalu is a very special football player who has been a key ingredient to our success over the past few seasons," Art Rooney II said. "We are excited to know he will be a Steeler for many seasons to come."

It can't have hurt that Polamalu is a good guy off the field as well, who has endeared himself to Steelers fans by living in the PGH year round, spends a lot of time doing community service, and even pays for people's dinners in restaurants. A few quotes from some old articles:

One more unique thing to him: Here is a Californian who prefers to live in Pittsburgh (he prefers Troy Hill over Nob Hill). He and his wife, Theodora, spent all summer at their North Hills home, venturing only on one three-day trip to California. It does not all have to do with the hills and rivers here, although he enjoys the fly-fishing. He derives much of his pleasure within the confines of the Steelers' UPMC facility on the South Side and at Heinz Field.

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The popularity of Steelers players -- with him among a handful of the most admired -- does have its drawbacks [...] "It stinks in a way if you're eating dinner and people are bothering you, but it's beautiful in a way when you have a kid who has only five days to live and the biggest thing in his life is wanting to meet a Steeler. That's where it's positive. It's happened to me a few times and it's really awesome to affect people's lives."

It is mesmerizing to watch the mild-mannered Polamalu morph inside his game-day phone booth. Polamalu might as well be Samoan for "Long-haired Superman" the way the two-time Pro Bowl safety flies around the field, his cascading hair trailing his every move.

"He really does cover a wide spectrum as a person," says Polamalu's former University of Southern California head coach, Pete Carroll. "He's a soft-spoken, mild-mannered gentle guy off the field. Then he puts on that uniform. And he changes personalities."

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"My Samoan heritage is that I'm a gentleman everywhere but on the field," Polamalu said before he was chosen in the first round of the 2003 draft. "My game is passion. Junior Seau described it best. He's very cordial everywhere else. But on the field, he's just a madman. The two most important things in Samoan culture are God and family. On the field, team becomes family."

In stark contrast to his punishing playing style, he talks in a near whisper off the field, reading the Bible and doing anonymous good deeds for others, especially special-needs kids. It's his way of repaying his own good fortune.

"I've been very blessed," he says. "I live my life with a passion, whether it's at home or on the football field. I know I have been identified as this crazy madman, as the 'Tasmanian Devil.' But I would rather be known as a 'Tasmanian Angel,' just a family man and a God-fearing man."

It's been documented that Troy and his wife, Theodora, will have dinner in a restaurant and randomly select a couple who seem to be enjoying themselves. The Polamalus will anonymously pay for that lucky couple's dinner. It's just something they choose to do to brighten someone's day.

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What makes Polamalu special among his peers is his deep respect for the game.

After Pittsburgh's AFC Championship Game win against Denver, Polamalu made sure to tell Lynch how much he had inspired his development.

"Troy has a respect for the game that's really unique," Lynch says. "When he came up to me after the championship game, he had no idea what that meant to me. Here I am in my 13th year, and he's telling me how much he respects me."

I enjoyed watching Polamalu get to be a part of the resurgence of USC football, and it's been good to see him become a key player for the Steelers. Here's hoping he stays healthy and continues to shine on the field, as well as be a great representative of USC off it.