Defining do-mi-nant in NFL terms: You wake up extra early on game day, Sunday morning, with your stomach all aflutter because your hometown side, the team you love and have rooted for since childhood will be squaring off with the ever formidable Pittsburgh Steelers a little later in the day.
Your guys really need a win, but it's the Steelers, Roethlisberger is on a roll, and that defense — "whoa, whoa, wait a minute!" And a brief period of quiet ensues as you rub the sleep out of your eyes simultaneous to perusing the preview you've had on sleep all thru the wee hours so at any waking moment you were able to reach out and hit refresh to get a quick update on game conditions.
Then, "Holy bleep, what a break ... what a break!", it's a cracked, phlegmy, bloody murder howl, and this causes your very alarmed wife to come running, "What's the matter with you?", she asks, "The kid's are still asleep."
"The matter? Nothing's the matter!", and you might even get up and do a little jig, "Nothing's the matter at all", and then you point to the illuminated screen, "Polamalu's out! Can you believe it? We just might be able to kick some Steelers butt today after all."
At this point, depending on her NFL tolerance level, the wife may give you a little pat on the butt or kiss on the cheek, but she'll still insist you keep the volume down, at least until you hear the patter of little feet.
But that won't keep the mantra-like buzz out of your head.
"Polamalu's out, Polamalu's out!", maybe you'll make a fist, pop it into your off hand. Then you check the clock, eye the phone, check the clock again, "what the hell", you say, "the guys have got to wake up sometime ...."
Now this may not be the Websters text book definition of the word do-mi-nant, but we're pretty certain avid football fans will get the idea.
In NFL terms we are referring to the games truly unstoppable forces; The Juice, Jerry Rice, Anthony Munoz, Joe Montana, Emmitt Smith, the great Jimmy Brown, and the bruising, highly determined walls, countless possessors of the pigskin have more than occasionally run into.
To be sure Troy Polamalu is just such a defender. One of the NFL's all time great safeties he is a vicious hitter, an intimidator, possessor of great closing speed and ball hawking skills.
Without him the Pittsburgh Steelers are tough, but beatable. Over the past two seasons the fearsome Black & Gold are 17-4 when Polamalu plays but a middling 6-7 when he does not.
With him, (as we have seen over the past decade), they are a Super Bowl caliber contingent capable of beating any team in the game, and in 2010/2011, with their last line of defense back in the line-up after a late season Achilles injury it can come as no great surprise to anyone that this up to date version of the famed Steel Curtain is heading to Dallas for the Feb. 7th season finale against the red hot Green Bay Packers.
But even with all the plaudits, with Polamalu chasing down his third Super Bowl ring in a storied career that still has much to tell, fans and followers of the game will debate the notion that he is the games single most dominant player.
And why not? The National Football League is filled with majestic, game changing players. We see it every weekend.
So with that in mind we've pulled together a reasonably short, up to date list of those we see as potential threats to the crown. How will this grouping stand up to your own perception of the NFL's most dominant players?
There's only one way to find out.
Let it roll,