Polamalu, Atwater heading to Hall of Fame
He grew his hair so long, it flowed out of his helmet and obscured the name on the back of his jersey.
Didn’t matter. Everyone knew where to find Troy Polamalu on Sundays.
The Steelers great earned a spot in the Hall of Fame on Saturday along with another hard-hitting safety, Steve Atwater of Denver. Also making it were receiver Isaac Bruce, running back Edgerrin James and guard Steve Hutchinson.
Selected in his first year of eligibility, Polamalu was a four-time All-Pro, was voted to eight Pro Bowls and finished with two Super Bowl rings in three trips.
“He’s waking people up to the impact a safety can have in today’s game,” another safety, John Lynch, said in an interview while Polamalu was in his prime.
There were no seniors announced Saturday, as they were folded into the hall’s special centennial class of inductees who are being honored as part of the NFL’s 100th anniversary. Among the old-timers who were announced last month were Harold Carmichael, Donnie Shell and Alex Karras.
JACKSON WINS MVP AS RAVENS TAKE 3 AWARDS >> Lamar Jackson’s stunning season not only earned him The Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player Award, but he won it unanimously.
That’s right: The second-year quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens joins Tom Brady as the only players to receive every vote for MVP.
Jackson drew all 50 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league.
The Ravens were big winners at NFL Honors. John Harbaugh won coaching honors, and his offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, took best assistant coach honors.
Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill earned the Comeback Player award by one vote over Jimmy Garoppolo, who will quarterback the 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl. New Orleans’ Michael Thomas took top offensive player honors, while New England’s Stephon Gilmore grabbed the defensive player award.
FINAU SHOOTS 9-UNDER 62 TO TAKE PHOENIX OPEN LEAD >> Tony Finau and Webb Simpson crashed golf’s biggest party with some back-nine fireworks.
Finau shot a 9-under 62 to take a one-stroke lead over Simpson in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, making an eagle on the par-5 13th and then, switching to a Kobe Bryant jersey for one hole, a birdie on TPC Scottsdale’s stadium par-3 16th.
Simpson had a hole-inone on the par-3 12th in a 64.
Second-round leader J.B. Holmes and Hudson Swafford were two strokes back. Holmes shot 70 and Swafford had a 66.
ROCKIES, STORY FINALIZE $27.5M, 2-YEAR DEAL >> The Colorado Rockies and All-Star shortstop Trevor Story finalized a $27.5 million, two-year deal Friday, avoiding arbitration.
His agreement leaves 18 players still headed to arbitration hearings, which run from Tuesday through Feb. 21.
Story remains eligible to become a free agent following the 2021 World Series. The 27-year-old hit 35 homers and swiped 23 bases last season.
CUBS FINALIZE 1-YEAR DEAL WITH JEFFRESS >> The Chicago Cubs and reliever Jeremy Jeffress finalized an $850,000, one-year contract.
The 32-year-old Jeffress was one of baseball’s most dominant relievers in 2018, going 8-1 with a 1.29 ERA and 15 saves in 73 games for Milwaukee. But the right-hander struggled with injuries last season before he was cut by the Brewers on Sept. 1.
LLANEZ SCORES IN DEBUT, U.S. MEN BEAT COSTA RICA 1-0 >> Ulysses Llanez scored in his U.S. national team debut near his hometown, and a young American roster opened the Americans’ 2020 schedule with a 1-0 exhibition victory over Costa Rica.
Llanez, an 18-year-old native of nearby Lynwood, buried a penalty kick in the corner in the 50th minute, slotting the ball to the left of goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado, who dove the other way.
The U.S. opens against Costa Rica on March 20.
Former Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu earned a spot in the Hall of Fame on Saturday.