Polamalu wants to play, even with Steelers' playoff hopes slim

PITTSBURGH -- Troy Polamalu hopes to play at least one more game this season, even though the slumping Steelers have just a slim chance of making the playoffs.

Polamalu has missed eight games and most of two others with two ligament injuries in his left knee. He hasn't played since the opening series against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 15 and probably won't play against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, when the Steelers (6-7) will try to end a five-game losing streak.

The five-time Pro Bowl safety said Monday that he wants to return "at least" for the regular-season finale Jan. 3 at Miami, even if the game is meaningless to Pittsburgh. The Steelers also play Dec. 27 against the AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens.

"Why not?" said Polamalu, who's wearing a large, protective brace on the knee. "I'm a football player. I'm not a coach, I'm not a cheerleader. What I love to do is play football and be out there with my brothers. That's why. It's always been irrelevant for me whether or not we go to the Super Bowl or playoffs. It's something I enjoy."

Asked last week what it would take for him to play again this season, Polamalu said, "A whole lot of healing (in the knee). A whole lot of prayers."

Losing one of the NFL's best defensive players has significantly affected the Super Bowl champion Steelers. They are 4-0 when Polamalu is on the field for at least one quarter -- beating the Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos -- but 2-7 when he is out or plays just a handful of downs, as he did against the Bengals.

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Polamalu, who helped lead Pittsburgh to its second Super Bowl victory in the last four seasons in February, missed the Steelers' second through fifth games with a sprained anterior cruciate ligament. He sat out the last four games with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament that initially was expected to be less severe than his earlier injury.

As the offseason approaches -- one that is likely to arrive much sooner than the Steelers anticipated when they were 6-2 -- Polamalu is looking for more off-the-field work.

Polamalu has signed with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, looking to expand on the commercial work he already has done for Head and Shoulders, EA Sports, Nike and Coca-Cola. He also hopes to do some television work.

"It's a lot tougher than it looks. It's hard for me to come out of my shell in the first place," said Polamalu, who speaks softly and is known for his lack of ego and pretentiousness. "It's just not you and the camera, it's you and the 50 people behind the camera. Not only that, it's long hours just to do a little commercial, it takes a lot of time."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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