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Why This Oakland Raiders Fan Is so Impressed with the Steelers' Troy Polamalu

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  A detail of the back of the jersey of Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Gary BurzellCorrespondent IIIMay 16, 2011

This has been an NFL offseason of lockouts, court battles between the owners and the players and the lack of team organized conditioning camps.

Many NFL players have been taking different roads to keep themselves occupied during this offseason.

Some are spending time with their families, many are working out on their own, while others have been working on new endorsement deals.

And unfortunately, many others have been getting in trouble with the law in different ways.

But one player recently completed something that really impressed me.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' Troy Polamalu donned a cap and gown and became a USC graduate.

This really impresses me.

I mean really, is this something he had to do? No.

But he realized how important it was to do so, and then he did it.

With so many NFL players not completing their education before getting drafted into the NFL, Palamalu could have just enjoyed the fame and fortune he has earned as a Steeler and not worried about it.

But as Troy Polamalu said on his website, www.troy43.com:

"I'm thrilled to announce that on this cool, sunny, Friday morning, I donned a cap and gown, walked across the stage in the beautiful Alumni Park at University of Southern California, and was handed my diploma. I'm officially a USC graduate! While I feel excited and fulfilled, that's not really what I want to focus on in this message—I want to talk about the reason behind my decision to go back and finish what I started."

"The majority of top picks in the NFL get drafted before they complete their college education. I truly love football and it's such an immense blessing and privilege as an athlete to be given the rare opportunity to use those talents at the highest professional level, but it's certainly not a replacement for an education. So I decided to finish what I started and walked that stage today not only because it was very important to me personally, but because I want to emphasize the importance of education, and that nothing should supersede it."

Way to go, Troy!

I mean really, if he has been smart with his finances over the years, Troy Polamalu will probably never really have to work again the rest of his life.

Will that bachelor's degree in history from USC really help him earn a living the rest of his working life? Probably not.

But it can't hurt, and it shows the kind of person he is.

One who realized how important an education is, and how important it is to finish something you have started.

I hope Cam Newton is watching, because he could learn a lot from Troy Polamalu.

I am @garyburzell on Twitter.

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