My thoughts on Troy


I am writing so many pieces right now.

My annual Burghy Mother’s Day Gift Guide for the magazine, so you can buy your mother something meaningful and local. My annual Pittsburgh Magazine City Guide column in which I will astound you with even more things you probably didn’t know about our fair city. A post on the new Clemente Bridge bike lane, how some people aren’t happy about it, and what Bill Peduto’s plans for it are. My regular magazine column, of which a topic I have not yet determined because I haven’t drank enough wine yet. I’ve got a lot of writing balls in the air, people!

But then Troy Polamalu was like, “Slow your roll, girl. I have news.”

And you know, it’s not the most shocking news. I think you’d agree that Troy’s exit from the NFL wasn’t a Bugatti careening onto the exit ramp at 80 miles an hour, but was rather an Amish buggy with two elderly horses, slowly rolling off the highway, enjoying the scenery as it passed. With his increasing age and diminishing physical health, we knew it was coming. The gray hairs foretold it. There’s no surprise. No abrupt ending that leaves us scratching our heads, I’m looking at you, Gillian Flynn.

I am 90% disenchanted with the National Football League and you know this because I wrote about it. I quit it. I stopped watching the games. Stopped supporting with my dollars. I can’t support an organization that seems to be allowing bad men to beat their wives and good men to destroy their precious brains.

The NFL became a bad taste in my mouth. The fly in my wine (which I would still drink because wine is delicious). The rain on my wedding day, Alanis. It became, to me, a money-worshipping, Alpha Male-encouraging, greedy, evil empire and I had to walk away from it and God did it feel good.

But within that muck, stood Troy Polamalu. A man who managed to prove that the NFL and football do not automatically destroy good and decency. That a strong enough man can rise above it and stay there for an entire career. Who can put family and God and good before money and power and vice.

We establish long ago that “The Steeler Way” is a myth, but somehow, someway, Troy Polamalu is mythical enough to live it and make it real. Every story I’ve ever heard about Troy has been uplifting, which is why I dubbed him Troysus many many years ago.

Football’s Jesus. The man who literally never stopped praying. And I feel comfortable using the word literally there, because his very essence oozes prayerfulness. Quietness. Solitude. Peace. Even when delivering a crushing blow to an opponent.

I’ve heard about his quiet visits to the homeless. His visits to sick children at the hospital without ever telling another soul. His devotion to his family. There is no cloud of questionable judgment hanging over his magnificent head of hair, and there never was. Just pure sunshine.

I think Steeler Nation loves Troy for his contributions to the physicality of the sport — to the wins. But I think he will be long remembered more for the kind of person he is. For his larger than life aura of I RISE ABOVE IT ALL ALWAYS. 

Call him the Jesus of the Steelers. The Mister Rogers of the Steelers. The Superman of the Steelers. Call him Troysus. Call him what you like, and then strive to be just a little more like him.

Then and only then will the Steeler Way stop being a myth and become something this city can truly hold up and be proud of.



  1. Vivian
    April 10, 2015 9:46 am

    Although not surprised I still feel like I lost a loved one. Hats off to a class act.

  2. Maureen Mahoney Hill
    April 10, 2015 9:57 am

    Amen I say to that, Ginny. Well said.

  3. Diane Calabrese-Tanger
    April 10, 2015 10:53 am

    You know how you might begin reading an atricle or a commentary and mid way through you begin to read words but hear, blah blah blah– Not this news column, Ginny!
    I echo all the points you make in your article and applaud your research in to the character of Mr. Polamalu. Now, we have lost Mr. Ward & Mr. Polamalu NEVER to be seen again. These shining stars are reminiscent of the personalities of the players on the 70’s Steelers and look how long we had to wait for men of such stong character to be drafted to our Steelers Team.
    Thugs are not good for anyone or any team. period. Cheer’s to Mr. Polamalu and his family.
    Steelers Management—- CLEAN UP THE UGLY ON THE BENCH starting with the quarterback.

    • bambi_beth
      April 10, 2015 11:04 am

      I would, perhaps, take more care than calling Mr. Ward a shining star.

      Mr. Polamalu, on the other hand, is fully a class act. A great piece, Mrs. Montanez.

    • Mike Frazer
      April 10, 2015 1:30 pm

      Are you seriously still calling out Roethlisberger, five years, a marriage and two kids later? He acknowledged on his own that he had become a spoiled brat who thought he was above it all. Now, he’s one of Pittsburgh’s best citizens and a philanthropist.

      Good grief, people. Learn a little something about forgiveness. Second chances are a beautiful thing, and I guarantee you — and every one of us — has been afforded more of them than we can count. Extend them to others, too.

  4. Dave
    April 10, 2015 10:55 am

    My son battled Leukemia for five years at Children’s Hospital (all better now…fingers crossed) and Troy visited him almost every time he was there…quietly, respectfully and, I believe, helped him to beat cancer. Fair winds and following seas Troy

  5. Shelley
    April 10, 2015 10:56 am

    My sadness is in missing the player, sure! My Sunday’s won’t be the same. But my heart aches because football is losing the man. It needs more Troys.

  6. Jonathan
    April 10, 2015 12:19 pm

    Completely agree that although Troy thrilled us with the way he played “he will be long remembered more for the kind of person he is.” So to your list I would add “The Roberto of the Steelers.”

  7. jann
    April 10, 2015 4:38 pm

    I am so glad he didn’t sign with another team. For him, I would actually change allegiance.

    • bucdaddy
      April 11, 2015 3:05 am

      The Steelers were sweating that, as I understand. They really really really didn’t want to have to cut him.

  8. bluzdude
    April 10, 2015 4:41 pm

    I think it’s the best possible outcome. He wasn’t going to play for the Steelers again. So this way, he doesn’t have to suffer the indignity of being cut, and we don’t have to see him play for another team.

    He gets to ride off into a black and gold sunset, with the cheers of everyone who ever watched him play.

  9. Janelle
    April 11, 2015 11:26 am

    I’m not a football fan–I know, blasphemous–because I just don’t enjoy the game. But I always enjoyed watching Troy when he would pop up on late-night talkshows and such because he seemed so nice, gentle, and genuine. And I think that for someone who’s admittedly not a football fan to stop and take interest in what a football player is saying and doing is pretty impressive.

  10. bucdaddy
    April 16, 2015 2:44 am

    SteelerS Nation. But yeah.

    Can I ask you something OT, VM? You DO have a lot on your plate, so … Do you now, looking back on it, regret or appreciate that you got outed as PittGirl and fired from your last real job?

    • Virginia
      April 16, 2015 10:31 am

      Loaded question. There are some things I miss about being anonymous, but I do not regret at all being fired. While this life and spinning these plates is actually more exhausting than a 9-5 desk job, I appreciate the flexibility it gives me, the people it allows me to meet, the impact I’ve been able to make via Make Room for Kids, the time I have to devote to our two restaurants, and the time it gives me to devote to my children.

      It needed to happen, and in the long run, I’m glad it happened. It let me grow up. :)

      • bucdaddy
        April 18, 2015 2:52 am

        That’s what I figured, and why I asked, and I’m happy for you, as happy as I can be for someone I’ve never met but have loved for years.

        TWO restaurants? This is news to me. Where’s the other?