Skip to main content

Steelers' Polamalu says players live with fear of head injuries

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu said he does not plan to change his style of play despite fears that he might eventually take a blow to the head that could result in serious long-term damage to his brain.

Speaking publicly for the first time Friday since he was knocked out of Sunday's win over Kansas City Chiefs because of what he and coach Mike Tomlin called "concussion-like" symptoms, the All-Pro safety said he feels good. He went through his second consecutive full practice Friday and is listed as probable and expected to play in Sunday's AFC North showdown between the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.

Polamalu would not answer, however, when pressed on whether he had actually suffered a concussion, reported. It was a continuation of the Steelers' reluctance to officially call it a concussion.

Polamalu did concede that he plays with a perpetual internal struggle between the constant threat of serious injury and not letting it affect his performance.

"That's the fear I think that any player faces," he said. "And that's the fear that any individual faces, overcoming any certain fears of being a coward, you know, and letting your teammates down or turning down a hit. That's the beautiful thing about sports is these fears are right in your face and it's pretty obvious if you turn them down or not.

"Oh, I have the fear, no question about it," Polamalu added. "But I'm willing to fight it, for sure."

Sunday was the second time in six weeks Polamalu left a game early with a head injury. Counting high school, college and the pros, Polamalu has been diagnosed with at least seven concussions.

Polamalu, known for his torpedo-like tackles, said he knows no other way to play.

"I don't know if it's possible, at this point, to change a style of play," he said via "I think that's the case for anybody in the NFL, especially regarding the rules and fines that we have.

They're going to continue to happen, just because we're instinctual players at this point. Of course we're professional athletes, but it's still tough to change these habits we've formed since we were eight years old."

Polamalu isn't the only Steelers star who had full participation in practice Friday and is considered probable to play Sunday.

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) is expected to start against the Bengals, too.

Woodley hasn't played since Oct. 30.

For a complete look at all injuries around the league, go to's injury page.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.