Talking Ball with former Rams great Tommy Polley

Talking Ball with former Rams great Tommy Polley

  • Adam Vinatieri
  • Aeneas Williams
  • BCS National Championship
  • Deion Sanders
  • Ed reed
  • Isaac Bruce
  • Jared Goff
  • Jonathan Ogden
  • Kurt Warner
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Marshall Faulk
  • NFL
  • Orlando Pace
  • Rams Brawl
  • Ray Lewis
  • Sean McVay
  • St Louis Rams
  • Super Bowl 36
  • Terrell Suggs
  • Tom Brady
  • Tommy Polley
  • Torry Holt
By Nick Holz August 23, 2020 0 Comment

Former Rams linebacker and Rams Brawl co-host Tommy Polley was once a two-sport star at Dunbar High School in Baltimore. As a senior, Polley was named USA Today’s Player of the Year in his home state of Maryland, while leading his team to the State title. He was also a top-60 basketball prospect, averaging over 20 points per game.

Tommy went on to star with the Florida State Seminoles, becoming an All-American linebacker, and leading the defense to back-to-back BCS National Title games.

I was lucky enough to be able to talk shop with Tommy Polley, and get an inside look on his experiences on the gridiron.

How one play could have changed the NFL as we know it

Brawl Network: First, you were a rookie on the Rams “Greatest Show on Turf” team that battled the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 36. During a key play down the stretch, you hit Pats running back J.R. Redmond, and it looked like his elbow comes down in bounds. The ref ruled it out and stopped the clock with 33 seconds left. Redmond was down right? The Patriots had no timeouts left, do you think that call could’ve changed the outcome of that game?

Tommy Polley: He clearly was still in bounds. If the clock keeps running, they probably would not have had enough time to get in field goal position.

(You can view the play here. Redmond’s elbow is clearly down in the field of play. Tom Brady would, of course, march his team down the field, leading to Adam Vinatieri’s last second, game winning field goal. Modern replay review rules probably change this call, and perhaps, put the start of the Patriots dynasty on hold. But, this was the wild west of the NFL in 2002.)

Brawl Network: That moment wasn’t too big for you though. I remember you almost sacked Brady on the very next play. You were a star basketball player at Dunbar High in Baltimore as well. If you chose the hardwood over the gridiron, could you have hung with guys like Kobe, T-Mac, and other stars of the day?

Tommy Polley: Those dudes were great, they had the size & skill. I probably would have been a defensive role player or something compared to them.

BN: The less glamorous end is just as important, you showed that on the field! You played with some phenomenal talents in your career, from Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk, to Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, who was the greatest player you ever played with?

TP: Aeneas Williams, Orlando Pace, Jonathan Ogden, Deion Sanders, Isaac Bruce, all have gold jackets. Terrell Suggs and Torry Holt will get there soon. But, my favorite player was Ed Reed, since his college days. And then playing with him, he was unbelievable on making big time plays, he was a great teammate and leader. They all were though.

BN: Ed’s always been one of my favorites as well, just a special, special talent. That is an unbelievable list of NFL royalty. What’s it like getting the huddle with those guys?

TP: You just know you better do your job at a high level, or you was going to have a problem with them. I never had a problem with any of those guys. Because, coming from Dunbar High, we had great tradition, then going to Florida State in the middle of a dynasty. I played with great players there who won Heisman trophies, and multiple first round picks. So, playing with those guys was just another part of the journey that produced great memories. I also use many of those experiences seeing how hard and dedicated those players worked to instill in the players I coach and mentor today.

BN: That’s fantastic, I’m sure you’ll start the next pipeline at St. Mary’s. Speaking to that, what is the greatest piece of advice you can give young football players today? If you could go back to ’95 what would you tell yourself?

TP: Talk less, listen and learn as much as you can, on and off the field, so you can minimize your mistakes.

BN: Wise words. You played football at the very highest level, two BCS National Championship games, and the aforementioned Super Bowl. What is your favorite memory on a football field?

TP: Playing in the NFC Championship game against the Eagles in the dome. It was really loud, Marshall Faulk played great. But, just seeing how happy the St. Louis fans were that day was great to see. St. Louis is for sure a sports town if they have a winning organization trying to really win.

BN: That was a great game. So much talent on both sides. You led the way with a game-high 11 tackles! Do you think this year’s Rams offense has what it takes to get back to the Super Bowl, without Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks?

Tommy Polley: Sean McVay is great, he can move the ball between the 20-yard lines. But, they will have to get the ball in the endzone and not rely on kicking field goals to win the game. Cam Akers from Florida State, and Van Jefferson should be solid adds in place of Gurley and Cooks. I am still not sold on [Jared] Goff just yet.

BN: Oh, is that a hot take!? Let’s hear it, will the Rams win a Super Bowl during Goff’s career in LA?

TP: Don’t know yet. He has been solid, not great. When I feel the team needs him most, and the game is on the line, he has not come through as of yet.

 

Thanks to Tommy for taking the time for this article. For more stories from throughout his career, and the status of the current Rams check out the Rams Brawl podcast. Be sure to follow the journey on Twitter @Tpolley29 and @RamsBrawl

 

 

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