When all-time defensive great and 2020 Hall of Fame inductee Troy Polamalu looks at today’s NFL, he doesn’t see a league that’s softer and easier than when he was playing. He sees a league that demands more of its defensive players than ever before.
In an interview with USA Today, the former safety explained why playing defense today is so difficult and why defenses as a whole are struggling in 2020.
“I think the evolution of the game has allowed the offense to be more successful. Running, catching, throwing the ball, it’s what people practice all the time growing up, on the streets, on the beaches, just playing in the front yard. So defense requires so much more of a skillset, whether the tackle right, with the new rules, or playing cornerback. Defense truly is a skillset that needs a lot of time and practice...”
Polamalu thinks that playing defense requires so much more work than other positions, and along with the new rules that have been instituted since his playing days, that makes it harder to do well.
Plus, Polamalu knows that positions like quarterback, tight end, running back, and wide receiver are the glamour positions in football. Kids want to be Tom Brady or Jason Kelce or Jerry Rice when they’re growing up. Not a lot of kids want to be the guy that stops them.
Unlike retired running back Bo Jackson, who recently said he’d average “350-400 yards a game” if he was playing today, Polamalu didn’t say how he thinks he’d do in the NFL of 2020. He seems content to let the players of 2020 deal with that.
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