NFL Nation: boxing

Troy Polamalu's time well spent

May, 14, 2011
5/14/11
12:09
PM ET
Similar to his great instincts on the field, Pittsburgh Steelers safety and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu is staying two steps ahead during the lockout off the field.

While many players are scrambling and trying to figure out what to do with their free time, Polamalu returned to USC this semester and earned a history degree at his alma mater. Polamalu, 30, didn't complete all of his credits before being drafted by the Steelers in 2003 but utilized the lockout to do so eight years and two Super Bowl titles later.

"I decided to finish what I started and walked that stage today not only because it was very important to me personally, but because I want to emphasize the importance of education, and that nothing should supersede it," Polamalu said.

In addition to Polamalu, other AFC North players have found interesting ways to pass the time during this extended lockout, which started in March.

Steelers teammate Hines Ward is doing well on "Dancing With The Stars." Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski registered two knockouts as a professional boxer, and Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco tried pro soccer and will ride a bull this weekend.
You have to give the AFC North division credit for having multi-talented athletes.

While Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski is boxing professionally again and already has one knockout this offseason, Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco is taking up professional soccer. He will get a four-day tryout with Sporting Kansas City of the MLS.

Although this might come off as a publicity stunt -- and to some degree it is -- Ochocinco has always had a love and appreciation for soccer. He talks about it all the time on Twitter and occasionally in the locker room during football season. I've also seen videos where Ochocinco has some nifty soccer moves.

Whether Ochocinco is good enough to play soccer at the pro level remains to be seen. Sporting Kansas City said they will evaluate where Ochocinco stands after a four-day trial.

With the NFL experiencing a lockout, players like Zbikowski and Ochocinco are free to participate in any activities they wish until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. Both players have key roles for their respective AFC North teams. So the Ravens and Bengals will keep their fingers crossed that no injuries occur.

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