The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020 is headlined by some all-time greats and is perhaps one of the first classes that actually has stars with viral social media moments. Some advanced sports fans will remember Troy Polamalu from his AFC Championship Game-Sealing pick-6 for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Baltimore Ravens but every sports fan far and wide who utilizes social media likely remembers Troy Polamalu jumping over the pile and stuffing a quarterback sneak.
Thanks to social media and video embedding capabilities, Polamalu’s jump-over-the-line moment is as widely seen as it was awesome. That’s just the type of career he had, though, from pee-wee football to the NFL.
Thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the HOF Experiences, we get to relive some of Polamalu’s all-time great moments in the NFL and from his days at USC.
Polamalu lit up the field for the Trojans from 1999-2002 as a ballhawking safety for USC. Ultimately, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 16th overall pick in the 2003 draft and played 12 professional seasons, all with the Steelers. His Hall of Fame career includes multiple big-play moments, game-defining plays and momentum-shifting hits from college and pro.
Polamalu is now set to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame later this year as the 13th former Trojan to be enshrined in Canton.
From the HOF Experiences page, we’ll let them detail out a bit more on Polamalu and his USC career:
Before Troy Polamalu, with his luscious locks, became one of the most feared safeties ever to play in the NFL, the California-born ballhawk was tearing it up in Los Angeles for the USC Trojans.
Polamalu came to USC in 1999 after spending his high school career playing at Douglas High in Winston, Oregon. During his first year on the team, he switched between safety and linebacker while the coaching staff tried to decide which position was a more natural fit with his talents. Even with the constant position switching, Polamalu was able to record two sacks and two forced fumbles in just eight games.
His sophomore campaign saw Polamalu solidify his role at starting safety, the position he would hold for the rest of his career. In his first game as a starter, Polamalu returned a 43-yard interception for a touchdown in a 29-5 win over Penn State. Polamalu finished the season with two total interceptions and started all 12 games in what turned out to be a disappointing 5-7 season for the Trojans.
The 5-foot-10 safety’s third season at USC was his best as he amassed three interceptions and two touchdown returns, which led the Pac-10. While the Trojans went an unimpressive 6-6, Polamalu dominated in his first season as a team captain.
Polamalu’s senior year at USC was the Trojans’ most successful during his four-year tenure, as USC went 11-2 and won the Orange Bowl against Iowa. In his final season in Los Angeles, Polamalu recorded 68 total tackles, three sacks, nine tackles for loss, one interception and three forced fumbles.
Polamalu finished his collegiate career with 278 total tackles, six interceptions, 29 tackles for loss and three touchdowns.
2003 NFL Draft
After a prolific run at USC, Polamalu made the jump to the pros in the 2003 NFL Draft.
Polamalu was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 16th overall pick in the draft and spent all 12 professional seasons in black and yellow. He finished his career as a 2-Time Super Bowl champion and 8-Time Pro Bowl selection.
He joins the following Trojans in the Hall of Fame:
- Frank Gifford
- Ron Mix
- Morris Badgro
- O.J. Simpson
- Willie Wood
- Anthony Muñoz
- Ronnie Lott
- Lynn Swann
- Ron Yary
- Marcus Allen
- Bruce Matthews
- Junior Seau
His list of accomplishments at USC are nearly as extensive:
- Led the Pac-10 in Interception Return Touchdowns in 2000 (1) and 2001 (2)
- Second in Pac-10 in Interception Return Yards for 2001 season — 116
- 2002 Consensus All-America
- 2-Time First-Team All-Pac-10 (2001, ’02)
Cheers to you, Troy! We can’t wait to see your enshrinement in Canton!