Steelers: Playmaker Polamalu Gains Quick Entry Into HOF
Another legendary AFC North safety can celebrate being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Last year it was Ed Reed. This year it's Troy Polamalu. His entire 12-year career was spent with the Pittsburgh Steelers and like Reed, Polamalu played the game with unique instincts and flair.
As an eight-time Pro Bowler, four-time first-team All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, Polamalu has the credentials worthy of first-ballot entry. However, Polamalu was still emotional Saturday when he received official word that he had been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Throughout his career, Polamalu was a pivotal figure in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. One of his signature moments came during the 2008 AFC Championship game, with the Steelers protecting a two-point lead over the Ravens with less than five minutes to play. Polamalu made the game-clinching defensive play, intercepting a Joe Flacco pass and returning it 40 yards for a touchdown.
Pittsburgh went on to win the Super Bowl that season, one of two that Polamalu won. Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin was among many who congratulated Polamalu on social media this weekend.
Polamalu, former Steelers safety Donnie Shell, and former Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher are all part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class. Undoubtedly, a legion of Steelers fans will be headed to Canton this summer for the official induction ceremony.
Bengals: Houshmandzadeh Says He Won't Badmouth Bengals to Burrow
It is widely anticipated that Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow will be taken No. 1 by the Cincinnati Bengals in the upcoming draft. The former LSU quarterback is preparing for this month's NFL Combine, working out in California with two former Bengals – former backup quarterback Jordan Palmer and former wide receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh.
Burrow working with Palmer sets up an interesting dynamic. Palmer is the brother of former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, who recently criticized the Bengals for not doing everything they could to win a Super Bowl during his career. Houshmandzadeh said he will talk to Burrow about the Bengals, and that he won't knock the organization.
"We're not going to say anything negative to Joe about the Bengals," Houshmandzadeh said via the Bengals website. "Why would we? Teams are bad because their players aren't good enough. If they get that player that's good enough, guess what happens? Your team isn't so bad anymore. I'm sure that's what Joe thinks. Negative? Not at all."
Houshmandzadeh hopes Cincinnati drafts Burrow, but says the Bengals should think carefully if they are offered multiple first-round picks in exchange for the No. 1 pick.
"Do I want him if I'm the Bengals? Yeah," Houshmandzadeh said. "But if the Dolphins are going to offer me three first-rounders, or if some team is going to offer me two first-rounders this year and a first-rounder next year, I have to strongly consider it for the good of the team." 4[delete]
Browns: Mayfield Vows to Talk Less Next Season
During Cleveland's disappointing 6-10 season, quarterback Baker Mayfield often responded to losses by lashing back at critics. That wasn't always received well, during a year when Mayfield threw 21 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 78.8.
Mayfield had a candid conversation with former NFL head coach Rex Ryan of ESPN during Super Bowl week, and the Browns' quarterback said he learned from a difficult year.
"Let's just be honest, I put my foot in my mouth a lot this year," Mayfield said via Jake Trotter of ESPN. "I have to be me. But I don't need to reply to the stuff on the outside."
The Browns are trying to establish a more positive atmosphere under new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, taking over for Freddie Kitchens who was fired after the season. Mayfield said reducing turnovers would be big part of his offseason focus.
"I've never turned the ball over so many times. You can't win like that. That falls back on me."