Troy Polamalu on the NFL: ‘I Just Think the Problem Is That They’re Wrong’

Troy Polamalu is an absolute madman on the football field and a quiet, mellow soft-spoken dude off of it. When he does talk, it’s usually something deep, or something that he’s very passionate about. Two years ago he spoke out about the NFL becoming a “pansy game” when the league was attempting to crack down on hits to the quarterback.

Now, in the wake of James Harrison’s $75,000 fine and the threat of suspensions for similar hits, along with the fact Harrison requested a meeting with the Commissioner this week, the Steelers All-Everything safety is again making his voice heard.

In an article from Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Polamalu is quoted as saying the following:

“It’s football, you know. If people want to watch soccer then they can watch soccer,” Polamalu said during a lunchtime interview. “But, honestly, overseas when people are attracted to this game, they’re going to see the big hits, they’re not going to care about touchdowns and different things. So you’re also taking apart what attracts people to this game.”

Along with that, he also touched on a subject that many others have commented on in recent weeks: Roger Goodell simply has too much power, or, if nothing else, is out of control.

“But, you know, he’s got all the power; that may be part of the problem, that there needs to be some type of separation of power like our government. There should be some type of players involved in decisions over how much people should be fined or what they should be fined for, as well as coaches, as well as front office people.

“I don’t think it should be just totally based on what two or three people may say who are totally away from the game. I think it should be some of the players who are currently playing.”

I don’t know if too much power is as big of an issue as the fact he is way too reactionary and gives in to public backlash and outrage way too easily. Though, the power thing is certainly a legit talking point as well (it does corrupt, you know … at least that’s what George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” taught me).

He also touched on another variable in this discussion, pointing out that if a receiver ducks his head at the last second, it’s going to increase the chance of him being hit in the head. At some point doesn’t the receiver need to be accountable for his actions, as well?

To bring in another sport here for a second, hits to the head have been huge issue in the NHL recently, and there’s a growing movement to completely ban them from the game. One of the arguments that always gets brought up to counter that is if a player is skating with his head down — which you’re not supposed to do — he is far more likely to be on the receiving end of a hit to the head because, No. 1, his head isn’t where it’s supposed to be, and No. 2, he’s not as aware of his surroundings. (As I pointed out on a recent Podcast that discussed this topic, the college sport with the highest concussion rate isn’t Division 1 Football, but actually Women’s Hockey … a non-contact sport). Basically, they’re calling for the puck-carrier to be held accountable for his careless play just as much as the person dishing out the hit.

It’s the same thing that can be argued here in football: If a receiver ducks his head at the last minute when James Harrison is closing in on him, and a hit that would ordinarily be in the shoulder area becomes a hit to the head, how is that the defenders fault?

Finally, when Polamalu was asked if there was any confusion with the rules he offered up the money quote: “No, I don’t think there’s any confusion. I just think the problem is that they’re wrong.”

Anyway, I suppose we should we start taking bets on what Troy’s fine is going to be.

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  • Dr Obvious

    “I don’t know if too much power is as big of an issue as the fact he is way too reactionary and gives in to public backlash and outrage way too easily. ”
    That’s kind of the point. You can’t change people, but you can change their incentive structure and power. It’s silly that the same person 1) determined if a player has done something wrong 2) determines the punishment with no eye toward consistency or precedent and 3) determines if the appeal to either of those wins. That’s a system that just begs for bad outcomes.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Troy does make an interesting point. Why shouldn’t post-game fines be made by a small group of people in the commissioner’s office? Why not have a panel with representation from former or current players or coaches?

    More broadly, why should so much power be concentrated in the hands of one guy? It seems like other issues, such as the handling of Spygate and investigations of PEDs would benefit from broader input and more transparency. Unless, of course, your main goals aren’t fairness and better decision making but instead maintaining personal power and managing PR for damage control.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Sorry, I can’t figure out how to edit posts after sending them. The second sentence was supposed to say should, not shouldn’t.

  • Warriorblitz

    It was actually Lord Acton who originally said “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Applicable to the commish I think.

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