Troy Polamalu is known as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fast and physical safety. But off the field, Troy’s a soft-spoken family man who makes setting a good example for his younger players and fans one of his top priorities. Recently, he hosted a Polynesian Luau Event to benefit the Harry Panos Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation, which he set up with his wife, Theodora, in honor of her grandfather, a World War II veteran, and the Troy Polamalu Football Camp held in American Somoa each year. I got the chance to chat with the Polamalus while Troy got his curls touched up by Head & Shoulders Celebrity Stylist, Sunnie Brook Jones (Polamalu’s a spokesperson for the brand).
You are hosting the Luau tonight—tell me about the event and why it is so important to you.
“We’re having this event with two performances: Common Kings, an island reggae-style pop group and another reggae artist named Fiji who’s one of the most popular island reggae artists. I say ‘island’ in the sense of the Polynesian island. And then we’re going to have a performance by Netane, which is a Polynesian dance group out of Orlando, Florida and it’s going to be a real good time. At most events, players come and people pay to get autographs but in a lot of ways this event epitomizes our culture in that we’re hosting an event for everyone to have a really good time. Obviously, people have paid for tickets to get in, which is the great fundraising aspect of it, but as far as hosting it, there’s live music, two concerts, a live performance, all-you-can-eat food, and all-you-can-drink drinks. There’s just so many people who have donated so much and it’s really cool that when you have a passion for a certain cause, how willing people are to really fork out and help out.”
Head & Shoulders is a title sponsor of the event and you’ve been partnered with them for four years. What do you like most about working with the Head & Shoulders brand?
“Well, we have a great relationship. I grew up using Head & Shoulders, so it was really awesome to start the relationship four years ago and to be able to do the different commercials that we’ve done and to pair it with different things. We paired it first with a charity called Operation Once in a Lifetime, which our charity, the Harry Panos Fund for Veterans still has a close relationship with. Then we do things like the million dollar hair insurance policy, the wax figure and now we have the School of Deeper Learning. But it’s been an awesome relationship that we’ve had together. Our locker room is full of Head & Shoulders products!”
As a football player used to being on the field, is it difficult getting used to the beauty aspect of these things, like the hair and makeup?
“Like everything at first, it took some getting used to. For example: the acting—on our very first commercial they gave me five lines, very simple. I was like, ‘Oh yea, no problem, I got this.’ Then I get there, sit with another professional actor and there are 50 people behind the camera and I went blank. I was like, ‘Oh man!’ So I’m getting used to the acting; to the hair and makeup. The first time I ever did anything, they tried to put makeup on me and I was really offended! But you get used to these things.”
You were recently voted the most liked athlete in the NFL by fans, so what do you think makes you so appealing to your fans?
“My first reaction was, ‘I don’t even like myself!’ But I think when you get those types of comments, whether it’s on a personal basis or through media, I try to tell younger players and others that you never just represent yourself. You represent your wife, your children, your family, your culture, the people you were raised by, your faith, and you have to always be conscious of that rather than living egocentrically and doing what you want to do. So in a sense, I think all of it goes to the different circumstances and people that have helped me throughout my entire life.”
So, will you ever cut your hair?
“Um—no. Well, I haven’t cut it in years. Not even a trim; I never even trimmed it. I could probably use one, as I’ve been told several times. I haven’t cut it for 10 years, I think it’s going on 11 years, which is also when I met my wife so I haven’t cut it since I met her!”
Speaking of your wife: Theodora, I know you are a busy mom of two. How do you find time to fit in exercise?
“It’s all about balancing and prioritizing things correctly. Making sure the children are happy. My husband and my children always come first before anything else. And as long as their happy and they are getting everything that they need, then everything else just falls into place—they’re always my first priority.”
Do you and Troy ever work out together?
“We used to workout together before the children and he put me on a workout plan with his special gym equipment that he had made for him at our gym. I used to do that. But now, after the kids, I don’t really have time to go to the gym, so I just try to put them in a stroller or a double stroller and jog around the city.”
Besides jogging, are there any specific workouts you like to do when you can fit it in?
“I like Bikram yoga. I try to do that whenever I’m in California. I try to do it three times a week if I can. I do CrossFit; I love it. It’s so much fun. It’s an amazing workout. It works your core really well, which is great for women, especially if you have kids. The core sort of goes away so you really have to train those muscles hard to get back into shape and back into being strong again. After children, everything gets a little bit stretched out. And I love running. I was running like six miles a day as often as I could. If I can’t get the kids in the stroller to jog with them, then I’ll just go run around the park. Sometimes I run without them to help clear my head.”
What are the healthy snacks you like to prepare for your family?
“We do green juice. Green juice is a staple in our house. We juice everyday. The kids help me; they know all about it. I put fruit in their green juice to make it a little sweeter. But the green juice I drink generally doesn’t have any fruit at all so that’s our staple. Juicing is really fun. The kids get involved with it, then they get excited about what they make so they don’t mind drinking it even if it looks funny. We like to say that my kids are super heroes so green juice is ‘hulk juice’ for us. It’s really fun and a great way to get kids interested and active in participating in a healthy and balanced diet.”