PITTSBURGH — Even though Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu grew up in Oregon, he’s proud of his roots and to be a part of the Polynesian football community, a community he says he’s drawn closer with since his playing days ended.
Polamalu is a board member of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, which was established in 2013. He was inducted in the third class in 2016.
“It’s really beautiful to be a part of not only an amazing community of Samoans and Polynesians, but a small community of Samoans and Polynesians,” Polamalu said at Heinz Field on Sunday.
“What’s different for me is that being raised in Oregon, I wasn’t raised necessarily in Hawaii and Samoa, so going back to the islands is really spearheaded by my wife, Theodora’s efforts, has really kind of opened my eyes more to the community and engaging with the community. It’s such a beautiful thing to see more and more Samoans, whether they’re quarterbacks or linebackers, safeties, and all the positions.”
As one of the most visible members of the community, Polamalu also wants to advocate for it, and feels that Polynesian coaches are underrepresented around football.
“We’re definitely very represented as players, but there’s also a lot of talented coaches out there, my uncle included, that should be making some bigger noise as far as head coaching opportunities with as much impact as we have in the game,” Polamalu said.
His uncle Kennedy Polamalu is currently the running backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings. There has never been a Polynesian head coach in the NFL. Kalani Sitake at BYU and Ken Nuimataloto at Navy are among the most prominent Polynesian college coaches.