Steelers’ Polamalu hopes to play in ’09

Troy Polamalu hopes to play at least one more game this season,

even though the slumping Pittsburgh Steelers have only a slim

chance of making the playoffs.

Polamalu has missed eight games and most of two others with a

pair of ligament injuries in his left knee. He hasn’t played since

the opening series against Cincinnati on Nov. 15 and probably won’t

play against Green Bay on Sunday, when the Steelers (6-7) will try

to end a five-game losing streak.

The five-time Pro Bowl safety said Monday he wants to return

“at least” for the regular season finale at Miami on Jan. 3, even

if the game is meaningless to Pittsburgh. The Steelers also play

Dec. 27 against Baltimore.

“Why not?” said Polamalu, who is wearing a large, protective

brace on the knee. “I’m a football player. I’m not a coach, I’m

not a cheerleader. What I love to do is play football and be out

there with my brothers. That’s why. It’s always been irrelevant for

me whether or not we go to the Super Bowl or playoffs. It’s

something I enjoy.”

Asked last week what it would take to play again this season,

Polamalu said, “A whole lot of healing (in the knee). A whole lot

of prayers.”

Losing one of the NFL’s best defensive players has significantly

affected the Super Bowl champion Steelers. They are 4-0 when

Polamalu is on the field for at least one quarter – beating

Tennessee, Minnesota and Denver – but 2-7 when he is out or plays

only a handful of downs, as he did against Cincinnati.

Polamalu, who helped lead Pittsburgh to its second Super Bowl

victory in four seasons in February, missed the Steelers’ second

through fifth games with a sprained anterior cruciate ligament. He

sat out the last four games with a sprained posterior cruciate

ligament that was initially expected to be less severe than his

earlier injury.

As the offseason approaches – one that is likely to arrive much

sooner than the Steelers anticipated when they were 6-2 – Polamalu

is looking for more off-field work.

Polamalu has signed with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment,

looking to expand on the commercial work he’s already done for Head

and Shoulders, EA Sports, Nike and Coca-Cola. He also hopes to do

some television work.

“It’s a lot tougher than it looks. It’s hard for me to come out

of my shell in the first place,” said Polamalu, who speaks softly

and is known for his lack of ego and pretentiousness. “It’s just

not you and the camera, it’s you and the 50 people behind the

camera. Not only that, it’s long hours just to do a little

commercial, it takes a lot of time.”