“What I really wanted is the west coast weather to come here. That was what I wanted,” he said after signing a four-year contract extension Monday to remain with the Steelers.
“This is home,” he said. “I didn’t want to be a player that was jumping from team to team. I’ve always felt comfortable here. I think this organization and its tradition, what they have here is very legendary in that sense and I always wanted to be a part of that.”
He’ll be a part of that at least through the 2011 season. He signed a $33 million extension that includes $15.375 million in signing and roster bonuses. He’ll make $2.85 million in salary this season. Polamalu’s annual salary will top out at $6.6 million in 2011.
The contract makes him the highest paid safety in the NFL, but that was not the driving motivation behind his negotiations.
“First and foremost I wanted it to be a fair contract,” he said. “A lot of people are making a lot of money out there, so I wanted it to be very fair and I wanted it to be here and those are the most important things.”
Polamalu, 26, is a three-time Pro Bowler and was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2005. He’s accomplished so much in such a short period he was asked what else he has to look forward to.
“Four Super Bowls in a row,” he said.
Polamalu was asked to explain what the contract means to him.
“It means that I have to work harder and go out and earn it. It’s very exciting for my wife and I. We’ve felt very welcome in this city and I think this contract really puts our roots down here.”
Polamalu said he doesn’t have plans for the money, that he and his wife Theodora will continue to “live the same lifestyle we’ve been living.” He denied having any plans to purchase the Johnstown franchise in the American Indoor Football League.
“Oh, no, I have no idea about that,” he said. “It’d be pretty fun though.”
Polamalu spoke to reporters after Coach Mike Tomlin’s revamped conditioning drill. The players were scheduled to run 16 100-yard sprints in approximately 15-20 seconds with 45 seconds of rest. The drill was stopped after 14 sprints because, according to Tomlin, “it didn’t look like anyone would have a tough time completing it.”
In other words, it was too easy.
“It was a lot different,” said Polamalu. “I don’t want to say too many bad things because I want them to keep doing this run. It wasn’t too challenging.”
Alan Faneca showed up in a full beard and longer hair than normal, but that wasn’t what distinguished Faneca from his normal light-hearted self. He ran his 100s with an angry look on his face. Faneca, though, said that was not the case.
“Just focused,” he said. “I knew I had a lot of eyes on my so I was just doing my thing.”
Faneca, of course, is entering the final year of his contract and told reporters at minicamp that this would be his last year with the team. He also said, at the time, that he would have a hard time remaining a team captain. He was asked yesterday if he’d still serve if Tomlin chose him as captain.
“I still stand by what I said. I don’t think I can be,” Faneca said. “I think the team’s going in a new direction and I think there are some guys in the locker room ready to step up that need to step up and start filling some of those roles.”
TIMMONS REPORTS, DOESN’T RUN
Those who were exempted from the run test were players who showed up for at least 44 of the 50 voluntary spring workouts. First-round pick Lawrence Timmons was exempt because the staff is cautious about a groin injury that kept him out of spring practices.
“I’m healthy,” Timmons said. “But I’m going to take it day to day, like not rushing anything, like rehabbing all the time, you know, just work out the necessary muscles that you do when you’re going full speed. I’m going to be smart about it.”
Timmons said he has already run sprints with trainer John Norwig and reported no pain or discomfort.
Defensive line coach John Mitchell was promoted to assistant head coach last month. The move was announced yesterday.
“I know all of the detail work that Mike’s going to have to go through in his first year, so it’s going to be my job to get to a lot of those to free him up to do his job,” said Mitchell, who’s in his 14th season with the team.
Mitchell, of course, is a pioneer in breaking down racial barriers. He was Bear Bryant’s first African-American at Alabama and later became the first African-American defensive coordinator in the SEC.
“John Mitchell’s a very respected coach in this league by his peers,” said Tomlin. “He’s been here a long time. He’s been a loyal, tireless worker. I felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes missed the run test because of a minor surgical procedure that is “non-football related,” said Tomlin. “He’s going to be watching for a day or two. It’s a non-issue.”
Also expected to sit out the first practice or two are NFL Europe linebacker Derek Rehage (thumb) and Verron Haynes (knee). The three players will open camp on the PUP list.