NFL Any Era: Troy Polamalu

January, 27, 2012
1/27/12
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PM ET
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ESPN.com is unveiling its "Any Era" team this week which features 20 current players with the toughness to play in any period of NFL history. The team was assembled by votes from 20 Hall of Fame players (here's a full explanation of the project).

Coming in at No. 2 on the Any Era Team is Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. He's fearless, reckless, and as far as playing styles go, he's in a class by himself. Polamalu would excel in any period because he hits with the tenacity of those who played in the 1960s and he has the athleticism to make plays all over the field like those who star in today's game.

The hardest part in going against Polamalu is to locate him. His physical style allows him to be a safety-linebacker hybrid. The best compliment comes from ESPN's John Clayton, who wrote: "He's changed the way people look at safeties."

Here are explanations from three Hall of Fame players on why Polamalu made the cut:
LYNN SWANN: "Troy Polamalu is not afraid to take risks. I see him jumping over the offensive line and making a stop at the goal line. That takes timing, that's Troy going with his gut and knowing what he's studied and not being afraid to take risks. A lot of guys know tendencies but are too scared to take the risk or don't know what to do with it. Troy will jump over the line, he'll hit a guy behind the line of scrimmage, he'll force a fumble flying through the air."

FLOYD LITTLE: "He gets hurt all the time, he gets concussions, his shoulder gets bent out of shape, but you can't keep him off the field. He's not that big, not that fast, but he's everywhere and everyone needs to know where he is when they line up."

WARREN MOON: "Troy Polamalu is a throwback player. Tough, hard-nosed, does whatever is asked, throws his body around. He throws it around so much that he gets hurt and knocks himself out with concussions. But when he gets hurt, they have to hide his helmet to keep him off the field. He will give you everything he's got. He is one of the nicest guys off the field and he turns into the Tasmanian Devil on it."

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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