January 19, 2006


NFL's Samson: a warrior in prayer: Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu, one of the toughest players in pro football, brings his faith onto the field. (Jim Klobuchar, 1/20/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

Polamalu calls himself a man committed to faith and to respect for others, and nothing in his off-field persona suggests this is a public display of humility. He speaks quietly and deferentially in private and is not one of the actors in the normal rowdiness of the locker room. He and his wife avoid the bar scene, and yet his teammates uniformly admire him for his skills and total commitment as a player, and for his faith. He prays often during a game, not for success, he will say. His explanation has something of a child's naiveté to it: the wish that this game involving driven men in a brutal, megabucks collision stretching for three hours will be played without injury to either side. [...]

As a kid growing up in California among siblings who found trouble with the law, he was on the jagged edge of disappearing into the streets. His mother saved him by settling him in rural Oregon with an uncle, Salu Polamalu, who was steeped in the Samoan culture and performed its fire sword dances. He also knew about the child's athletic heritage. Several family members had made it in college and professional football. Salu laid out some choices: Treat yourself and others with respect and discipline yourself, or wind up in a dead end. It worked. He became so courteous and proper that he asked his wife's family for permission to date her in their courtship.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 19, 2006 8:27 AM
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