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May 28, 2015
by Chris Adamski

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Adamski: Even in retirement, Troy still hands-on in mentoring replacement Shamarko



Outwardly, there hasn’t been a more humble guy in the Steelers’ locker room – or maybe on the planet – than Troy Polamalu. Funny, though, what the likely future Hall of Fame safety’s primary football advice is to the young player set to be his heir apparent.


“‘Have your expectations bigger than everyone else’s,’” Shamarko Thomas said from the Steelers practice fields Thursday, relaying Polamalu’s second-most important piece of advice to him. “‘People might have these expectations for you, but your’s have got to be higher.’”


Perhaps that’s part of what Polamalu so great yet so beloved by teammates and fans: Supreme confidence internally; unassuming modesty on the outside.


By now, you know that Polamalu has retired from football, and that Thomas – set to enter his third season – is the odds-on bet to replace him as the Steelers’ starting strong safety. What you might not know is that Thomas says he’s “definitely closer to (Polamalu) than anybody” he’s played with and that the two still regularly communicate via text or phone.


“My second year, I came to him in the offseason, I just asked him, ‘I want to be great,’” Thomas said Thursday following the third of 10 Steelers’ OTAs. “And he just told me ‘Being great is not just being a great football player; being a great football player is putting God first and your family, and everything else will fall into place.’”


It’s clear that a penchant for big plays isn’t all that Polamalu and Thomas share – their deep spirituality also binds them. Remember how “make your expectations for yourself greater than what those around you expect from you” was the second-most important piece of advice Thomas said Polamalu gave him? Well, No. 1 was, “Put God first, idolize God.”


“He keeps my mind right,” Thomas said of Polamalu, “mentally and spiritually. Physically, he always tells me what to do. It’s definitely weird (not having Polamalu) out here, but we’ve got young guys and we’re trying to compete and try to take the job.”


It will be an upset – not to mention, a disappointing reflection on Thomas – if he’s not the one who succeeds Polamalu in the starting lineup.


“I know I will never replace Troy,” Thomas said, “on and off the field.  Godly man, fatherly-like man, great mentor. I just want to be half the man he is, you know, off the field. And on the field, just learn what he taught me and just carry it into my gameplan.


“I’m not worried about the job right now. I’m out here trying to compete… and just work hard.”


It’s no secret that the play of Thomas figures to be one of the most pivotal aspects of the Steelers defense’s chances at success this season. Polamalu won’t be making plays anymore himself, and he, of course, can’t make Thomas make plays, either. Still, his continued mentoring of such a key player on the roster certainly can’t hurt.


That means that even from afar, even after he’s left the game for good, Polamalu still can have an impact on the Steelers this season.


Asked what he still has to prove to his coaches, Thomas gave an answer that checks all the boxes out of the Polamalu playbook: Confident-yet-humble, but spiritual above all.


“I feel like I ain’t got to prove myself to nobody,” Thomas said. “I know how I work. God has a plan; I’m just out here to compete. That’s the biggest thing for me – just come out here and compete.”



May 20, 2015
by Chris Adamski

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Adamski: Heyward says of Tuitt, ‘He’s definitely got a high ceiling; we’re just going to see how high it is’



Like Cameron Heyward three years before him, Stephon Tuitt last season entered the NFL has a highly-touted, early-round defensive end draft pick from a major program. Heyward has since developed into a mushrooming star – and early signs indicate that, perhaps, Tuitt could be, too.


Ask Heyward himself.


“Tuitt has definitely got a high ceiling,” Heyward said Wednesday from the Steelers facility. “We’re just going to see how high it is.”


Barring injury or a training camp and preseason that approach catastrophically bad levels, Tuitt figures to enter his first season as a full-time, 16-game starter this fall. This despite the fact he hasn’t even turned 22 yet (that happens Saturday).


Consider it took Heyward until he turned 25 — and his fourth NFL season – to accomplish the same thing, and it could be said that Tuitt is well ahead of the curve. He started at right defensive end for the final four regular-season games and the Steelers’ wild-card playoff loss to Baltimore as a rookie last season.


“I expect a lot from Tuitt (in 2015) because he’s been in certain situations that most rookies don’t get to be in,” Heyward said. “He started a playoff game for us, he helped accomplish winning the AFC North; he’s been in dogfights. I think for me, I was behind guys like Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel (as a rookie) where they were the guys going through dogfights. If they weren’t playing, then I would get probably have gotten my opportunity. But we’re expecting Tuitt to be ready to go from Game 1 (in 2015).”


Heyward has obvious physical talents, is known for his intangibles and has enough football IQ to succeed. He’s probably got a Pro Bowl (or three) in him. But despite all that and the fact he played in a similar system at a big-time college in Ohio State, it still took him, he said, between a half a season and a full season to assimilate into the Steelers’ scheme to the point that he didn’t have to think and could play full-speed in the NFL.


The Steelers were not afforded any sort of “redshirt” season with Tuitt, partially because of the depleted depth at his position and in part because of injury. Still, even though he played only three years of college ball, Tuitt was able to make the most of his early opportunity.


At least, he was because it came later in the season. If it had been early in the 2014 campaign, it might not have worked out so well.


“Tuitt’s got all the talent in the world,” Heyward said, “but I think early on (in 2014) it was like he was a chicken with his head cut off. So he had to learn a little bit because he was all over the place thinking too much. ‘What am I doing here? What am I doing here?’


“When it becomes second nature where you’re just stepping and you already know where you’re going and you simplify it, it becomes a lot easier for you to move and a lot easier for you to make plays. And you saw that in the Kansas City game (Week 15) where he really matured where it almost came second-nature where it’s like, ‘Oh, I already went to the ball; I don’t really need to think about it.’ And he makes a big play for us and we recover a fumble. It’s just stuff like that where you start to gain as you go through a season.”


In addition to the forced fumble of All Pro running back Jamaal Charles on Dec. 21, Tuitt also had his first career sack that day.


The Steelers are hoping it is a regular sign of things to come for Tuitt this season and beyond.




May 19, 2015
by Mark Kaboly

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Kaboly: Steelers OL Ramon Foster endures ‘Boot Camp’ … and likes it


FosterRamon Foster has survived his share of training camps over his six-year NFL career.

Now, Foster can say he has also survived ‘boot camp’ … as in the NFL Sports Journalism & Communication Boot Camp – a four day program this past weekend offered by NFL Player Engagement that focused on preparing players for their careers after their playing days have ended.

“The reason I wanted to do it is because I have an interest in it,” Foster said. “I had my radio show this past fall and I enjoyed it and I enjoy talking to the media. It is nice to have guys know what they are talking about and can voice their opinions thoroughly and be able to talk on the radio or talk to reporters.”

Foster, along with more than a dozen former and current NFL players, took part in the program at Bowling Green University.

Foster, an undrafted free agent from Tennessee in 2009, just turned 29 and is in the final year of a three-year, $5.5 million contract he signed in 2013.

“Everybody thinks it is glitz and glamour but you only have this for 10 years of your life,” Foster said.

Foster took part in a press conference with NFL referee John Parry and had to report on it. Foster also was required to write an opinion piece that he entitled ‘FantasyLand.’ It will be published at at a later date.

“This camp had a bunch of writing in it too and the journalism part was something I was a little intimidated about,” Foster said. “I actually enjoyed writing this weekend which is funny to hear an NFL player say.”

Foster said his ‘FantasyLand” piece focuses on the reality of playing in the NFL. He said the piece finished third out of 18 entries.

“I think it is a good read,” Foster said.

You can hear Foster talk about the boot camp and much more (including the state of the Steelers offense) on the Kaboly Show Podcast.

Take a listen right here:






May 4, 2015
by Mark Kaboly

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Kaboly: Doug Williams Jr. among tryouts at Steelers rookie minicamp


The Steelers will hold a three-day rookie minicamp May 8-9 at the South Side practice facility that will consists of rookies, undrafted free agents, first-year players and tryouts.


The most notable may be Grambling quarterback Doug Williams Jr, son of former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams Sr.


Here is the breakdown, but before that, take a listen to the Kaboly Show Podcast on TribLive Radio.


These are subject to change.



LB – Bud Dupree, Kentucky

CB – Senquez Golson, Mississippi

WR – Sammie Coates, Auburn

CB – Doran Grant, Ohio State

TE – Jesse James, Penn State

DL – LT Walton, Central Michigan

LB – Anthony Chickillo, Miami (Fla.)

S – Gerod Holliman, Louisville



QB – Doug Williams Jr., Grambling

RB – Josh Bell, UTEP

RB – Jawon Chisholm, Akron

RB – Cameron Stingily, Northern Illinois

OL – Josh Walker, Texas-San Antonio

DL – Marcus Cribbs, Ferris State

DL – Mike Thornton, Georgia

LB – Anthony Gonzalez, Pitt

LB – Drew Misita, SE Louisiana

LB – Aaron Roane, Richmond

LB – Justin Shirk, Bloomsburg

LB – Mike Taylor, Florida

DB – Dior Mathis, Oregon

PK – Kyle Clinton, Ohio State



QB – Tajh Boyd, Clemson

RB – Roosevelt Nix, Kent state

TE – Rob Blanchflower, Massachusetts

OL – Mitchell Van Dyk, Portland State

OL – Alejandro Villanueva, Army

DL – Ethan Hemer, Wisconsin

LB – Shayon Green, Miami

LB – Howard Jones, Shepherd

LB – Shawn Lemon, Akron

DB – Jordan Dangerfield, Towson

DB – Alden Darby, Arizona State

DB – Kevin Fogg, Liberty

DB – Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State

DB – Ian Wild, Mercyhurst

P – Jordan Berry, Eastern Kentucky

P – Richie Leone, Houston

K – Brandon Hartson, Kentucky



RB – Ross Scheuerman, Layfayette

WR – Tyler Murphy, Boston College

WR – Eli Rogers, Louisville

TE – Cameron Clear, Texas A&M

OL – Miles Dieffenbach, Penn State

OL – Reese Dismukes, Auburn

OL – B.J. Finney, Kansas State

OL – Collin Rahrig, Indiana

OL – Kevin Whimpey, Utah State

DL – Nigel Crawford-Kinney, St. Augustine’s

DL – Dominique Davis, Liberty

DL – Bradon Pate, Illinois State






May 2, 2015
by Mark Kaboly

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Kaboly: Grading the Steelers through 2 days


Tossing together some quick grades through the first two days of the Steelers draft.


1st round – Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

I love it. Sure, everybody would’ve loved the Steelers to grab one of the top corners in the draft, but, you know what, they were all gone (not a fan of Byron Jones). Steelers felt thrilled that a talent like Dupree was able to slip through the cracks and fall to the Steelers at 22. For that, it was a pick that was made for them. Dupree needs some work, sure, but what rookie doesn’t need some work? Considering how the draft suddenly broke bad for the Steelers midway through the first, this pick was a home run.



2nd round – Senquez Golson, CB, Mississippi

It’s hard to deny Golson’s playmaking abilities with 10 interceptions last year. To put that into perspective, no Steelers cornerback has been able to collect more than three interceptions in a season since Deshea Townsend got four in 2004. Golson’s size is an issue, but let’s see if it becomes a terrible issue. The entire Steelers’ secondary other than Cortez Allen is under six-feet tall. I am OK with calling it a reach, because that is what it was. It’s hard to imagine that Golson was the highest player left on the Steelers’ board at 56. The Steelers really wanted Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams and even tried to trade with Cincinnati to move up and get him. That didn’t work out and the Ravens swooped in and traded with the Cardinals to pick Williams. Oh well, right.



3rd round – Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

Another player that has some questions surrounding him. He can provide a deep threat, but is limited in some of the other things he can do. But what he can do – catch the deep ball – he does well. He had nine touchdowns of 30 yards or longer the two years he started at Auburn and averaged 20 yards per catch. That’s very Martavis Bryant-like. You would think that receiver isn’t a big need with Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Bryant on the roster, but the Steelers aren’t going to pass up a skill player that they think might be able to help them.





April 28, 2015
by Mark Kaboly

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Kaboly: Colbert not happy and who the Steelers will pick (All 7 rounds)

Photo by Chaz Palla/Tribune-Review

Photo by Chaz Palla/Tribune-Review

If you know Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert at all, you know it’s pretty difficult to get him fired up.

I’d imagine that it’s pretty hard-pressed to find a more even-keeled individual let alone one who holds the position of one of the top decision-makers with a professional football franchise.

So, when Colbert took part of Monday’s pre-draft press conference to admonish the information leaked out leading up to the draft, it was kind of eye-opening and, actually, refreshing.

“I think it’s really bad for our profession when people put whatever means they use to get information out to try to influence a draft and they talk about a kid’s test score, a kid’s injury, a kid’s character,” Colbert said. “I think that’s awful. I think it’s disrespectful to our profession. It’s disrespectful to the game. It’s disrespectful to the kid. I think it’s horrible.”

Information about top prospects inevitably leaks leading up to the draft. Whether it comes from agents or teams or a combination of both in order to provide a diversion is something that Colbert says needs to stop.

And, in at least the Steelers’ case, they aren’t listening anyway.

“In knowing that we really don’t pay attention to it,” Colbert said. “We’re just going to be true to what we believe. We don’t believe in mock drafts and what people are saying about other teams because so much of it is misinformation. You just lose your mind trying to figure out what everyone’s going to do. We’ll just be true to what we do and feel good about it and live in it.”

The Steelers make a point to interview all players they have on their draft board. Colbert said that rarely have the Steelers drafted players without first talking to them and making their own determination about the person.

The Steelers hosted Nebraska linebacker Randy Gregory and Washington cornerback Marcus Peters for pre-draft visits earlier in the month. Both are considered first-round picks, but both had some off-the-field issues.

“It’s our job to get to the root of the matter,” Colbert said.

* My Mock Draft Version Final is out. I originally had Virginia linebacker Eli Harold as the Steelers top pick during the Kaboly Show on TribLive Radio on Monday (Listen here: but I had a change of mind.

Here it is:

Round 1 (22) Marcus Peters, CB, Washington State

Round 2 (56) Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State

Round 3 (87) Senquez Golson, CB, Mississippi

Round 4 (121) Davis Tull, OLB, Tennessee-Chattanooga

Round 5 (160) Jesse James, TE, Penn State

Round 6 (199) Max Valles, OLB, Virginia

Round 6 (212) (Comp) Sean Hickey, OG, Syracuse

Round 7 (239) Akeem Hunt, RB, Purdue

* Make sure to tune in to the Steelers Round Table Show (the most downloaded show in TribLive history) featuring me, Ralph Paulk and Chris Adamski on Thursday at 9 a.m. on TribLive Radio.


April 22, 2015
by Mark Kaboly

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Kaboly: Steelers’ pre-draft visits are over (here is who they brought in)


The Steelers wrapped up their pre-draft visits on Wednesday by bringing in, you guessed it, a cornerback and a rush outside linebacker.

Oh yeah, some guy named Landon Collins was around as well.

Now that the visits are over – the Steelers used 29 of their allotted 30 pre-draft visits – what does it mean in regards to next week’s draft?

In the past, it typically means a lot.

Over the past two years, 11 of the Steelers 18 selections were pre-draft visitors. Another was signed as an unrestricted free agent.

Now, I wouldn’t get caught up with who the Steelers brought in over the past two weeks because there are other avenues to talk to these players like the Combine, Pro Days and even dinners after the Pro Days.

What it does do is give you peek into what positions they believe they need, and of course, cornerback is on top of that list.

The Steelers brought in nine cornerbacks with only Marcus Peters being a first-round projection. Outside rush linebackers were also a target with five visiting – three of which are potential first-rounders.

So, here is the final list of the Steelers pre-draft visitors including the date they visited.


(9 cornerbacks)

CB Alex Carter, Stanford (4-9-15)

CB Marcus Peters, Washington (4-9-15)

CB Senquez Golson, Mississippi (4-8-15)

CB Darryl Roberts, Marshall (4-20-15)

CB Bryce Callahan, Rice (4-20-15

CB Steve Nelson, Oregon State (4-20-15)

CB Eric Rowe, Utah (4-21-15)

CB Doran Grant, Ohio State (4-21-15)

CB Dexter McDonald, Kansas (4-22-15)


(5 outside linebackers)

OLB Max Valles, Virginia (4-9-15)

OLB Nate Orchard, Utah (4-8-15)

OLB Eli Harold, Virginia (4-8-15)

OLB Randy Gregory, Nebraska (4-16-15)

OLB Davis Tull, Tennessee-Chat (4-22-15)


(5 tight ends)

TE C.J. Uzomah, Auburn (4-8-15)

TE Wes Saxton, South Alabama (4-10-15)

TE Cameron Clear, Texas A&M (4-13-15)

TE Jeffrey Heuerman, Ohio State (4-14-15)

TE Kennard Backman, UAB (Tue 4-14-15)


(4 wide receivers)

WR Breshad Perriman, Central Florida (4-10-15)

WR Sammie Coates, Auburn (4-13-15)

WR Devin Gardner, Michigan (4-16-15)

WR Jalelel Strong, Arizona State (4-17-15)


(2 defensive ends)

DE Kyle Emmanuel, North Dakota State (4-21-15)

DE Preston Smith, Mississippi (4-22-15)


(1 guard)

OG Quinton Spain, West Virginia (4-13-15)


(1 quarterback)

QB Tyler Murphy, Boston College (4-10-15)


(1 defensive tackle)

DT Xavier Cooper, Washington State (4-14-15)


(1 safety)

S Landon Collins, Alabama (4-22-15)


April 21, 2015
by Chris Adamski

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Adamski: Former Steeler McFadden now giving his opinions in media



Twice during a conversation that lasted no longer than 20 minutes, Bryant McFadden caught himself when talking about the Steelers.


“You hear me say ‘us’ like I’m still part of the team,” the former Steelers cornerback said. “That’s just something that’s in my blood.”


McFadden played six seasons for the Steelers from 2005-11 (spending ’09 with the Cardinals). It’s been about 40 months since he’s last worn the black-and-gold, but after two Super Bowl titles and three AFC championships won with the team, old habits die hard.


Even if he is now an unbiased member of the media.


“I always wanted to be able to talk about sports,” said McFadden, who for almost a year now has been getting paid to do just that by the 120 Sports Network.


“Even when I was in Pittsburgh, we’d always have heated debates in the locker room. We’d go back and forth, and I always wanted the opportunity of doing that for a living.


“It’s a pretty cool gig. I can’t complain at all.”


McFadden, Trib readers of Steelers coverage might recall, was prominently quoted in the Sunday story on the team about how they’ve neglected taking cornerbacks in the early rounds of the draft. McFadden just happens to be the most recent cornerback the Steelers selected as high as late in the second round.


I called McFadden last month for the story, and – just as he’d been when he played – found him to be engaging and well-spoken. Those qualities make him a natural fit to join the media, specifically broadcast media.


That’s exactly what he’s done. McFadden is one of the primary hosts for 120 Sports, a Sports Illustrated-backed online venture that talks sports via video and audio throughout the day. People can download the app for Apple or Android devices and listen live or pick-and-choose the topics they want to hear the panel pontificate on.


“The name ‘120’ comes from the concept of every topic is 120 seconds,” McFadden said. “A lot of people are on the go and always looking at their phones, and a lot of people don’t have the attention to look at topics that linger to be 5-10 minutes long, so we cater to any casual fan that loves to get updates about any sports-related topics in rapid-fire fashion.”


Even while he was playing – McFadden started 62 of the 110 games he played (counting the playoffs), including Super Bowls XL, XLIII and XLV – McFadden was thinking about life after football. He attended the NFL’s “broadcasting boot camp” and, after his playing career ended, initially worked for free for the Miami CBS affiliate, just to get experience.


“I ended up meeting with some broadcasting agents and a few already remembered me from my playing days and heard about what I’d been doing,” McFadden said. “And once we got word that this new company, ‘120,’ was eventually going to take off, they sent my reel to them and I came up and did a few interviews. And the rest is history.”


The 120 studios are based in Chicago, and Florida native McFadden had been commuting there from his Atlanta home. But he said he enjoys the travel. The toughest part of the gig? McFadden said he had to initially do plenty of reading and studying up on some of the sports he hadn’t grown up exposed all that much to.


“I’m a football guy, that comes second nature for me – college and the NFL,” McFadden said. “But I’m also talking about all other sports: baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer. Which is good for me because I had to really hone my skills on that. Growing up I’d always been a football-type of guy, a basketball-type guy, and a casual baseball guy. But now knowing that I had to talk about some of the hockey-related stories – of course we’re always talking about the Penguins; they’re one of the top teams in the news – I really had to study and really focus in and challenge myself. I’ve come a long way, especially with other sports. Every day is a day for me to get better, and I’m enjoying it.”


So has 120 Sports, which in less than seven months of existence was awarded by Apple as one of its Best of 2014 apps.



While I had McFadden on the phone, I got his opinion on some Steelers issues…



On what Troy Polamalu meant to the franchise (and to McFadden):

“Special guy, man. He’s so instinctive and very, very smart. His football IQ is like a Peyton Manning of the defense – that’s the best comparison I can give you about what he brought to the table. And one thing I love about Troy – he loved to be able to help others get in position to make quality plays. He studied the game that well. He understood the concept of offenses and how they try to attack the defense, and he made sure everyone was on the same page. And he’s a dynamic guy. One thing about Troy, he revolutionized the safety position into something totally different. Troy wasn’t a big safety, he wasn’t a tall safety. He was more of a short, compact guy, put well together. Troy kind of took that safety level to another dimension. At one point in time it used to be the Roy Williams of the league were the safeties that were (in style): Bigger safeties that can run and hit. But Troy was a shorter safety, fast, who can run and hit and do it all and also play in the box. What he meant to our defense when we were played in three Super Bowls and won two Super Bowls, clearly we would not have to got to that level without Troy being in the lineup.


“He means more to me just from a personal standpoint; not just from a teammate standpoint, but just as a good individual. You rarely come across great people in the NFL. There are a lot of people who could care less about you when you’re not on the team anymore. Once you don’t have that uniform or that helmet, they’re not going to call you or text. But Troy has always been a stand-up guy, not just to me but to anybody in that locker room, and I think you need that. You need that around. Because now you’re starting to get a different mold, a different identity with the Pittsburgh team. A lot of the older guys that were mainstay guys for such a long time are no longer there. Now it’s up to the younger guys to be able to uphold the standard. When I got drafted, I was able to hone my skills under a guy like Deseha Townsend, a guy like Ike Taylor, a guy like Troy Polamalu, a guy like Chris Hope. Watching those guys, it helped me to become a professional on and off the football field.”




On how Polamalu was, in effect, quietly pressured into retiring by the Steelers (note- we spoke before Polamalu officially announced his retirement):

“That’s the nature of the business, unfortunately. But to hear, basically, the ultimatum of what his options are was the most difficult thing for me. I think, of course, Troy has battled injuries the past few years – but I think he’s meant so much to the organization that if he really wants to play one more year and really feels like his body is able to last a full season, allow him to go at it. Give him the opportunity to be like, ‘You know what, I don’t have it anymore.’


“I still stay in contact with Troy. We briefly chatted this past week, actually. Just on a friendship level; nothing professional. But I get the feeling that he still wants to play one more year, me personally. And I think he’s meant so much to the organization that if he does want to play one more year and he feels he can give us the Troy Polamalu we’ve been accustomed to seeing, give him that option.  Not to mention, I haven’t heard anything about them potentially asking him to take a pay cut or re-structure his deal. Which is weird for me because give him the common courtesy to be, ‘You know what, Troy, your cap number is a little bit too high. You know, we’d love to have you for one more year, but for us to continue to bring in quality players in order for us to get up to the next level of winning Super Bowls, we need to cut your pay down or re-structure it. Are you willing to do that?’


“From an organizational standpoint, sit down and talk with him: ‘Do you really believe, Troy, you really can give us what we need to have out there on the football field? And when we say, ‘Give us what we need,’ we mean play at a high level and be healthy.’ And Troy’s a standup guy. If he thinks his body is prepared enough to go through a whole other season, let’s bring him to camp. Let’s see how he performs in camp; let’s see if he’s healthy enough to go in camp.


“But for them to just be like, ‘We’d rather you retire than cut you?’ Not to mention, it got out in the media — if it would’ve been closed-doors then I don’t think Troy would have minded. It would have been an emotional decision for Troy, but now that everybody is talking about it, and what he meant to the organization, what he meant to the city, it’s easy to be torn between this tough decision to make.”




McFadden’s thoughts on another recently-retired former longtime Steelers secondary mate of his, Ike Taylor:

“Outstanding guy, a guy who overachieved. Wasn’t that high of a draft pick; he was basically still raw when he got to the professional level, never really played cornerback consistently at Louisiana-Lafayette – and he became one of the most consistent corners in the Steelers’ organization history. Of course, he never got the national recognition the other top corners were receiving year in and year out, but to us he was always a quality, top-flight corner. Early in my career you’d see Ike on Chad Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, week in and week out. That’s a tough task to have – that’s a lot of food on your plate, and he used to go at it and hold it down. The only issues with Ike is if he would have caught half of his interceptions he’d be one of the best corners in the game.


“But to us, we knew what he brought to the table because we saw it in year in and year out. Unfortunately this past season he didn’t get to show people the top-fight corner he is because he was battling injury and he was in and out of the lineup with injuries and that makes it difficult to get into that chemistry level, to get into that understanding and knowing how your body is going to maintain against that type of competition.”




On where the Steelers are at as an organization this offseason:

“Pittsburgh always has a chance to make a run. I think this is going to be a very critical offseason because a lot of quality guys (are no longer) a part of this team, so who’s going to step up and hold the fort down? … Jason Worilds, he was their best pass rusher. Can Jarvis Jones stay healthy? I think he has the potential and the skillset, but can he be healthy enough to show that production on the football field?


“Of course, the offense, you’re talking about having one of the best wide receivers in the game. Ben played like the best quarterback this past season statistically, and then at running back, you’re talking about one of the best running backs in the game. So you’ve got a three-headed monster on offense that can be tops in the league against anybody in my opinion. Can the offensive line be consistent enough to get (the Steelers) over the hump?


“But I think, offensively, they’re right where they need to be. Martavis Bryant, oh man, he’s a touchdown waiting to happen. It’s just about who’s going to step up on defense. Lawrence Timmons has to be THE guy. He was THE guy this past season, but… not having Brett Keisel.. Troy, Ike … Who’s going to be the leader of the secondary? So there’s a lot of question marks — more question marks on defense than the offense.”




April 10, 2015
by Mike Palm

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Twitter reaction to Troy Polamalu’s retirement


Steelers safety Troy Polamalu made it official on Friday, confirming that he would retire after 12 years with the team. Many on social media paid tribute to Polamalu:


April 10, 2015
by Mark Kaboly

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Kaboly: There will never be another like Troy Polamalu, God willing

(Chaz Palla -- Tribune-Review)

(Chaz Palla — Tribune-Review)

I was there when the Steelers drafted Troy Polamalu (I still remember a reporter asking him to pronounce his name for her at the introductory press conference.)

I was there for Polamalu’s rookie year when he was clueless and had no chance in heck of beating Mike Logan for the starting strong safety position.

Actually, I was there for all of Troy Polamalu’s games and was amazed as the next when he came up with that big play.

You know which ones – the Flacco strip sack, the Flacco interception, the dive over the center at Kerry Collins, the dragging down by the hair by Larry Johnson, the finger tip interception against the Chargers (which should be viewed as one of the all-time best interceptions in the history of the league, but has been basically forgotten.)

If I wanted to, I could fill up this page about the amazing things I’ve seen from Polamalu on the field over the past dozen years.

I choose not to.

For many NFL players, football is their life.

Not Polamalu, and I respected that the most about the man.

Actually, his perspective on life was the most impressive thing about the man.

Ask him about football, and you were sure to get an “I’m blessed” or “God willing” to go along with a simple nod of the head or sheepish smile letting you know he’s now down answering your question.

Ask him about something non-football related and that was a different story. You wouldn’t have enough space on your tape recorder for his answer. And the depth of the man was truly spectacular.

Most of the time, I had no clue what he was talking about.

That’s how Troy Polamalu was.

And that’s what I enjoyed the most.

That’s what I will miss the most.

All due respect to the players in the league now, but there will never be a guy like Polamalu again … on the field, but especially off the field and I am not even talking about the charitable work he did when nobody was looking.

Polamalu didn’t like talking to us reporters. It was nothing personal. It just wasn’t him. And the more cameras and people around him, the less he talked.

Get him by himself, and away he went.

Let me take you back to training camp just this past year.

Interviews are typically done during lunch time at St. Vincent College outside the cafeteria. You grab a player and ask him questions. It is as simple as that.

But what if a player didn’t show up to lunch?

Well, that’s a problem.

Polamalu rarely, if ever, showed up to lunch because he knew darn well the mob will engulf him.

So, I waited after practice one day and followed him to get a one-on-one. Mind you, a post-practice storm was rolling in, but it didn’t matter. We talked about bunch of stuff. Stuff I can’t even remember now, but I am sure it was entertaining.

Actually, there was one thing that I do remember from the interview. Polamalu grabbed my recorder and said in a loud, but typically Troy voice: “I love you Jack Kearney” to the team security man, who was walking by.

I swear I played that 5-second clip for five dozen people that day.

There was many others and many others I most certainly have forgotten.

One I will never forget.

A couple years back, I brought up Jimmy ‘SuperFly’ Snuka to Polamalu. To my surprise, Polamalu knew all about SuperFly – a WWE Hall of Fame wrestler.

Turns out, Snuka’s daughter married Polamalu’s cousin and Troy knew SuperFly.

“Just how Jimmy was like on TV is how he was in real life,” Polamalu told me with a big grin.

Imagine that conversation.

Then there was last year when a couple of the young guys posing in the locker room with their shirts off while I was talking to him.

Polamalu looked at me and deadpanned: “Excuse me, I have to go pose for a picture with my shirt off.”

I paused for a second before realizing he was poking fun at his young teammates.

Then there was the time that I brought up Polamalu’s Sesame Street apperance with Elmo. Well, let’s just say I will keep that conversation private, but I will say that it was classic Troy.

But all of that just scrapes the surface with Polamalu the person.

His willingness to take a guy like Shamarko Thomas under his wing last year and invite him to work out with him; his unique relationship with Ryan Clark; his uniqueness; his passion and his commitment to family and faith were impressive as his play on the field … at least to me.

When you add that to the kind of trailblazer he was on the field and now you understand why there will never be another Troy Polamalu.

Forget about there never being another player in the NFL like Polamalu again. There will never be another PERSON in the NFL like Polamalu again.

God willing.

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