Polamalu indifferent about his selection to 75th anniversary team

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Hines Ward wasn't about to downplay the significance of being selected to the Steelers' 75th anniversary team, not when he is lumped in the same group with Hall of Fame receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.


Sunday
  • Game: Steelers (4-2) vs. Bengals (2-4), 1 p.m.
  • Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati.
  • TV: KDKA

Alan Faneca said being named one of six offensive linemen on a unit that includes Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson, two of the greatest centers in National Football League history, leaves him speechless.

Casey Hampton appreciated the honor of being placed alongside Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood as one of the team's all-time best defensive linemen, even if the voting was done by fans and not peers.

But, true to form, safety Troy Polamalu said he didn't quite understand what all the fuss is about, even though he is the youngest member to be named to the anniversary team.

"It's one of the biggest honors that anyone can be a part of, next to the Super Bowl," Ward said.

Ward, Faneca, Hampton and Polamalu were the only current Steelers named to the club's all-time team that was announced Wednesday as part of the 75th anniversary celebration. The only other active player to make the list of 33 players was former linebacker Joey Porter, who plays for the Miami Dolphins.

"There are guys who didn't make the team who helped just as much as we did," said Ward, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who is the team's all-time leader in receptions (664) and trails only Stallworth in receiving yards (8,191). "Words can't describe all the hard work we put in. It feels good to be appreciated by the fans, by the Steelers nation, that they really respect the way we played."

Faneca was the only guard among the five offensive linemen selected to the team, joining centers Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson and tackles Tunch Ilkin, Jon Kolb and Larry Brown. A former No. 1 pick, only Webster (9) and Dawson (7) have been selected to more Pro Bowls among Steelers offensive linemen than Faneca (6).

"It leaves you speechless," Faneca said. "There's not really a whole lot that I can say that would express how you feel to be honored that way."

Hampton, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was among five defensive linemen selected, along with Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Dwight White and Ernie Stautner.

Asked what it would be like to play on the Steel Curtain defensive line that dominated the 1970s, Hampton said: "It would be fun. It's definitely a different era, but those guys really could play. They probably couldn't play inside now, but they could play defensive end. Guys are a lot bigger now than back then."

After a brief pause, Hampton added, "Joe Greene could play inside."

Porter, who was released after the 2006 season and signed by the Dolphins, was a four-time Pro Bowl selection who had 60 sacks in eight seasons with the Steelers, fourth most in club history. He is in select company on the all-time team, joining Hall of Fame linebackers Jack Lambert and Jack Ham along with Andy Russell and Greg Lloyd.

Porter was selected over several other former linebackers who had Pro Bowl careers with the Steelers, including Mike Merriweather (3 Pro Bowl appearances), Kevin Greene (3), Jason Gildon (3) and Levon Kirkland (2).

Porter declined comment yesterday through a Dolphins spokesman, saying he wanted to keep his attention on his team's game against the New York Giants in London. But he told Steelers Digest: "It's definitely an honor. I've had a lot of achievements and [accomplished] a lot of goals, but, beside winning the Super Bowl, being voted on that team I definitely would have to say, as far as playing football, that would be my second-highest goal ever."

Then there was Polamalu, a three-time Pro Bowl selection during his first four seasons with the Steelers. At 26, he is the youngest member of the anniversary team, a player who was born 16 months after the Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl in a six-year span, in January 1980.

But he appeared bemused that he was selected to a secondary that includes Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount, cornerback Rod Woodson and safety Carnell Lake.

"My wife doesn't even know about it," Polamalu said. "I don't know what it has to do with anything, quite honestly. It really doesn't have much to do with anything, but I don't want to disrespect anyone because I know people do care about things like this."

NOTES -- Free safety Ryan Clark (inflamed spleen) did not practice for the second day in a row and might not play against the Bengals. ... Bengals WR Chad Johnson (ankle) and RB Rudi Johnson (hamstring) did not practice for the second day in a row. ... The Nov. 18 game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J., has been moved from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. to accommodate television, the NFL announced. The starting time is one of three switched that day by the league. The Dallas-Washington game has been moved from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. and the New York Giants game at Detroit has been switched from 4:15 p.m. to 1 p.m.



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