Previously we’ve looked at the risk of concussions among youth football players.  We’ve discussed the appropriate medical management and guidelines in treating concussed players.  And we’ve seen that the end of football as we know it (at least in the high school and college ranks) may be near.  Just don’t tell that to Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who told Ron Cook he feels the pro game has been “sissified”:

And, yes, Mr. Polamalu will allow his boys to play football. More than a few NFL players have said they will encourage their kids to a sport other than football because of the injury risk, especially concussions. “I don’t understand how players can say that,” he said. “After all this game has done for them, not only on the material level but on a spiritual level. There are many great lessons that you learn in football that you can’t learn in any other aspect of life.”


Polamalu sees lessons everywhere in his life that he can impart on his two young sons.  For example, on his legacy:

“My uncle texted me the other day about legacy. I said something in my mind like, ‘Who really cares about legacy?’ I don’t care. How I’m remembered, if I’m remembered. I think the great thing about my life experiences is what I can share with my children. That is the value. What I can share with anyone who is willing to listen. That, to me, is what life experiences are about.”


On committing to putting 100% of his effort into his work, Polamalu tells Cook:

“I want to go out there and lay it all on the line, whether it’s sacrificing body parts, whether it’s sacrificing limbs, whatever it is. What better lesson could I teach my children? Anything that you do in your life or want to do in your life, whether it’s a small thing or a big thing, you give it your all. My wife understands that about me, that I’m passionate about everything. I’m committed to my marriage as much as I’m committed to my teammates as much as I’m committed to my faith. I try to be all in, yes.”


On risking potentially catastrophic injury to play the game he loves:

“Before every game, I tell my wife I love her and tell my boys I love them because I go in with the mentality that it’s going to be my last game,” Mr. Polamalu said. “We understand we’re going to get hurt and it’s not going to make us stronger when we get older. It’s not going to add years to our life. But I want to be a great father to my children, as well. Part of being a great father is seeing me wake up, work out every day, going out on the field, laying it all on the line, feeling sore the next day because I did. To me, that lesson is priceless.”


And lessons he’s learned about being a parent while helping ailing children on his frequent visits to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh:

“Since I’ve had kids, it’s given me a completely different understanding of the whole structure and struggle of it. Growing up, I was never into celebrities or autographs or athletes. However, when your child is sick, you will do anything to make them happy. That’s kind of given me a level of understanding that if someone calls me from Children’s, ‘Hey, we’ve got someone who would really like a visit from you,’ you just go. You don’t think about it.”


Clearly, these kids have a friend in Troy Polamalu, his own kids have a role model and teacher, and the rest of us have a sports figure we can truly admire.