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Sports on the Edge - Troy Polamalu: The NFL's Heat-Seeking Missile

July 23, 2009 12:30 PM ET

In Rolling Stone issue 1084 we profile the worlds most fearless athletes from NASCAR's wild man to extreme surfers to Nitro Circus. Here are more of the boldest and strongest in sports, including Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and cage fighter Gina Carano.

Troy Polamalu: The NFL's
Heat-Seeking Missile

The wrecking ball who took the Steel City to
the Super Bowl (twice)

Name: Troy Polamalu

Who He Is: Safety, Pittsburgh Steelers

Why He's Fearless: The native Samoan supposedly hasn't cut his hair since 2000, and doesn't care if you use it to tackle him (Ask Larry Johnson, who did just that during an interception run back in 2006). He is a guided missile in cleats who said last year that the NFL's increase in fines for hard hits is threatening to turn the sport into a "pansy game." Polamalu's football philosophy: "Anyone can [play] as long as they're willing to sacrifice their life and consciousness."

Most Fearless Moment: Polamalu is best known for being everywhere, and for hitting anyone who dares come near him — often in punishing fashion. His one-armed tackle while falling down against Denver Bronco Tatum Bell was an internet favorite, but maybe his most freakish display of athleticism was his full extension interception last year against the Chargers in which he scooped the ball with one hand just as it was about to hit the ground. Even in slow-motion it's hard to believe he actually caught it. One week later, his interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship game sent the Steelers to the Super Bowl.

Expert Testimony: "He throws his body around like a madman," says Tony Siragusa, a FOX TV analyst and former defensive tackle who played alongside the prototypical hard-hitting madman, Ray Lewis. "He looks like a superhero and throws his body around like one. And that's what other guys on D respect. Polamalu is in a car crash every 10 plays."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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