The following is a collection of reviews of Polamalu, the inspirational story of Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu.

Rege Behe, Pittsburgh City Paper:

  • “Culled from a decade’s worth of interviews with teammates, family members, and childhood acquaintances, Polamalu sheds light on one of the most unique individuals ever to don a football helmet.”
  • “So many coaches and teammates made time for Wexell when they learned he was calling about Polamalu. ‘I was right in the middle of it for 12 years, so I knew how they felt,’ Wexell says. ‘It didn’t surprise me. … But Heath Miller gets in his car, drives to the top of a hill for better reception, and gives me an hour. That simple act, beyond what he said, tells you a lot.’”

Read the complete review here


Ed Bouchette, The Athletic:

  • “Wexell took a different tact toward writing the book, gathering comments from hundreds of people and stitching them together in an entertaining look at Polamalu’s life, from his days at Douglas High, through Southern Cal and, of course, the Steelers.”

Read the complete review in the Dec. 4, 2020 edition of The Athletic


Steve Halvonik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

  • “Jim Wexell’s Polamalu: The Inspirational Story of Pittsburgh Steelers Strong Safety Troy Polamalu isn’t one of those books. It is not a money-grabbing quickie. Polamalu is a thoughtful and well-researched effort, over a decade in the making, and it’s based on original interviews with dozens of Mr. Polamalu’s family members, friends and teammates. The publicity-shy football star declined to be interviewed for this book, but his absence is somewhat mitigated by snippets of past interviews that the author, a local sportswriter, conducted with him.”
  • “He borrowed the structure from Texas Flood, rock journalist Alan Paul’s biography of Stevie Ray Vaughan. The technique adds a documentary, you-are-there quality to the interviews.”
  • “It’s in the early chapters where Mr. Wexell’s due diligence (to borrow a Tomlinism) really shines. The author’s deep dive into Mr. Polamalu’s childhood yields a compelling narrative.”
  • “Mr. Wexell’s desire to render his subject as a three-dimensional human being is what makes “Polamalu’’ a cut-above sports book.”

Read the complete review here


JoAnne Klimovich Harrop, Tribune-Review:

  • “Asked about his favorite chapter, Wexell said: ‘They’re all my babies. The Steelers’ championship years are great, and I love his childhood chapter. But my personal favorite is the first chapter with the great pre-draft mock story that led to Troy being drafted by the Steelers.’”

Read the complete review here


Bob Labriola,

  • “Wexell refers to himself as, ‘merely the collector and collator of the information and anecdotes in this book.’ Maybe so, but through 432 pages of collecting and collating, the author tells a comprehensive story of one of the most beloved players in Steelers history, and he does it through the words and experiences of those who know Polamalu best.”
  • “Wexell also chronicles each Steelers season after the team made him its first-round pick in 2003, and he does it the same way he presented all of the other information in the book. He does it with the words of the people who experienced it first-hand, and this style gives the reader a sense of being part of a group conversation, a sense of being an insider to the events on the page. It’s effective, it’s easy to read, and it lends credence to the narrative.”
  • “That narrative of Polamalu’s youth will surprise many, and even may shock some who have the misconception that he was born with the same sensibilities he developed as an adult.”

Read the complete review here


John Luciew,

  • “… a riveting, revealing new biography from long-time Steelers beat writer Jim Wexell.”
  • “Wexell captures all the on-field glory and the behind-the-scenes struggles and turning points with in-depth interviews so exhaustive they require several ‘cast of characters’ pages in the book.”
  • “Reading about all of Troy’s eye-popping plays in Wexell’s great book sure gets those movies of the mind flickering all over again. But the real magic of the exhaustive biography is the off-field stories. The locker room revelations. Going inside the family’s inner circle. Wexell said he spent a decade on the book, and it shows. The trust he’s built with the Polamulu family to mine all those personal stories is simply incredible.”
  • “Sure, it’s a must-read for Steelers’ fans, as it is for all young football players and athletes of any kind looking to do it the right way. But the life lessons lived by Troy go beyond the game, beyond athletics. In some ways, it’s an inspirational manifesto for all those searching for personal fulfillment, philosophical enlightenment and spiritual awakening.”
  • “Troy Polamalu is so deep on so many levels. The book mines them all. Wexell delivers a tour de force of reporting and interviewing that finally puts this well-known, instantly recognized football player and this shy, enigmatic man into sharp focus in all his many dimensions. The result is a fascinating, enlightening and inspirational read.”

Read the complete review here


Bob Pajich, The Pittsburgh Book Review:

  • “Wexell’s ability as a researcher and editor is apparent, as is his eye for humor. Brett Keisel is funny. Joey Porter is funny. James Harrison is terrifying. And funny. And, like everyone else in this book, a huge fan of Troy Polamalu.”
  • “There’s a sense of enlightenment, too, something way beyond the violent and messy sport of football. There are secrets and ideas about living a well-rounded, fulfilling life, about the virtues of hard work, about how to try to find truth within, and how that varies from person to person.”

Read the complete review here


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