If you saw Troy Polamalu walking down the street out of his Steeler uniform, he would appear to be a pretty friendly, gentle guy.
Put him on the field in his uniform, and most of his opponents would say the sight of number 43 is anything but friendly.
Troy Polamalu is known as the speedy guy with the wild curly hair flapping in the breeze. He is ferocious in going after his opponents and for a relatively small guy he is known for his hard hits.
He is a big reason the Steelers will be playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Polamalu had a huge interception against the Ravens in the AFC championship game, but if you asked him he would shrug it off like it was no big deal.
He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and there is no question that his desire to succeed drives him constantly.
What makes Polamalu such a dangerous player, is that he is armed with a purpose that not all players have.
It started back when Polamalu was a kid growing up in California. He went to go visit his uncle up in Oregon and ended up really like it there so he asked his mother if he could stay. She knew it was the best decision for her son because she wanted him away from any gang violence he might experience at home.
Polamalu's heritage is Somoan, and it was through his uncle that he really got in touch with those values. His mentality is to be a gentleman everywhere, except on the field. He is extremely disciplined, and never gives less than 100% of himself, even in practice.
He has often said that going all out in practice isn't to his benefit, but he still feels like that's the right way to do things. He is deeply rooted in his Christianity and that drives him to constantly strive to play at such a high level.
Polamalu isn't motivated by money or any other material matters. He tries to get away from his profession as much as he can when he isn't working. He refrains from watching football when he's at home, but rather enjoys spending time with his wife, Theodora and their new born son, Paisios.
Unfortunately, not a lot of professional athletes are motivated to play for something more than a pay check and the perks of being a super star athlete. They may not be as motivated because they feel like there is always going to be someone there to give them some kind of a pay check.
Polamalu is dangerous because he plays for more than a pay check. His self discipline and personal determination drive him to play his best at all times. That is why he is such a huge asset to the Steelers; they know that no matter what they will always get 100% effort out of him.
Troy Polamalu has a lot more to lose than the guys who aren't motivated by the same things he is. If he doesn't succeed he risks damaging his pride, and for a guy like Polamalu that is one of the worst things that could happen.
It's a shame more guys don't play for those reasons. If they did, the NFL might be a lot better off. So players, take note from the guy running at full speed on the field with his long Samoan locks flapping in the wind. There is a lot more to this game than money and recognition.
There's pride and self discipline and it seems like those are far better motivators than money ever was.