Safety Troy Polamalu The Steelers All Time Most Overrated Player? Dave Dameshek Thinks So

With the NFL currently in the dead zone prior to training camps opening around the league, several of the major media outlets are scratching and clawing for topics to discuss. is currently going team-by-team and listing the all-time players from each that they consider to be either overrated or underrated.

As far as the Pittsburgh Steelers go, Dave Dameshek, who, by the way, is a huge fan of the black and gold, chose safety Troy Polamalu as the teams\’ most overrated player.

“I\’m going to go here with Troy Polamalu, because, yes, I think he is nearly a dead lock for the Hall of Fame in a few years, but in the last couple of years, he has significantly tailed off,” said Dameshek. His gambling ways have been exposed by some of the savvier QBs. You can watch Tom Brady dupe him with some play-action at least once a game, and beyond that, he just hasn\’t been on the field very often.

“He\’s spent a lot of time in street clothes on the sidelines in big games. Troy Polamalu, one of the great defenders on a franchise known for great defense, but like I said, the last couple years a big drop off there. We\’ll see if 2013 if he can turn it around, or if it might be his last season.”

Now, Polamalu has certainly had injury problems over the course of his career that has resulted in him missing 29 regular season games in total, but is that enough to list him as an overrated player, let alone the most overrated player all-time on the Steelers? Keep in mind that Polamalu only missed eight regular season games over the course of his first six years in the league, and he admitted recently that his calf problem has been ongoing for the last four seasons.

As far as Polamula getting duped by the play-action of Tom Brady, I think we can safely say that any safety that has played considerable snaps against the New England Patriots shares in that same experience.

Below is the list of overrated and underrated all-time Steelers players, that according to the article, Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest contributed to. Do you agree with the names on the list? Also, are there any former Steelers that need to be added to either list?

On the Thursday edition of The Terrible Podcast, I suggested that former Steelers safety Donnie Shell perhaps belongs on top of the underrated list, and my co-host David Todd threw out former Steelers linebacker Levon Kirkland as a candidate for underrated as well.

Chime in with your thoughts below in the comments.


L.C. Greenwood — DE, 1969-81

Lynn Chandnois — HB/TB/KR, 1950-56

Jon Kolb — LT, 1969-81

Aaron Smith — DE, 1999-11

Larry Brown — TE/RT, 1971-84


Troy Polamalu — S, 2003-present

Mike Wallace — WR, 2009-2012

The offensive linemen from the four Super Bowl teams in the 70s-80s

Cliff Stoudt and Mark Malone — QBs, 1977-83, 1980-87

NOT Lynn Swann — WR, 2005-10

  • joed32

    Who ever over rated Stoudt or Malone?

  • joefalco

    the O-line from the 70s was over rated?? By who?

  • Jason Brant

    That list sucks.

  • VaDave

    Considering Larry Brown and Jon Kolb played on the 70-80s offensive lines, Mansfield was no slouch, and Webster is in the Hall of fame, who the heck is he talking about? Davis was a team captain before and during the Noll era. Mullins made their trap O go, Ray Pinney was one of the quickest RTs I’ve ever seen in my life. I guess he must be talking about Jim Clack and Gordon Gravelle….

  • Eddy

    I’ll probably catch a lot of hate for this, but I would put Jerome Bettis on the ‘Overrated’ list.

    He’s a popular player and everyone remembers his leadership/work ethic but I don’t view him as an automatic HOF player. He’s only 6th on the NFL career rushing list because’s he’s durable and played for 13 seasons.

    If it weren’t for Roethlisberger making a shoe-string tackles on Nick Harper and Mike Vanderjagt missing a 46 yard field goal, Bettis’ would have been remembered as the player who blew a chance at Super Bowl XL.

  • cencalsteeler

    As much as I love Troy, you can’t argue with Dave’s statements, they hold a lot of truth unfortunately.

  • steves

    I would agree with LC and Kolb being underated. We may have 2 Larry Brown in Matt Spaeth. If we have another OT go down, since Spaeth is so good at blocking, would they ever think of moving him, like they did Larry Brown from TE to OT?
    Last Year Wallace was very overrated. In my opinion Troy does not deserve to be on this list. When he is on the field, he can change blocking assignments and dirupt plays, we have all seen it. QB’s try to change the play and adjust with Troy’s allignment, but at the last minute he again changes where he goes. And it gives Offensive Coordinator headach’s trying to account for his quickness.

  • 2443scott

    please give me more these overrated players they only won 6 superbowls and set nfl records …when i see questions like these it makes me think of sapp and all his crap …..every player gets old and loose speed and have injuries just like any job …i take troy over 90% of the db`s out there even at this age ….

  • Chris Ward

    I agree with most of the underrated players list but not a fan of the overrated players list. Polamalu has had durability issues but when he is on the field he makes that defense a lot better. Don’t understand how the Steelers O-line from the 70’s was overrated when Franco averaged almost 5 yards per carry running behind guys like Jon Kolb and HOF Mike Webster. I like that they included guys like Aaron Smith, Jon Kolb, and L.C Greenwood as the underrated players. Always thought Aaron Smith was a underrated player not only was he a great run stopper but to have 44 sacks as a 3-4 Defensive End is really impressive. L.C Greenwood is probably the first player that comes to mind when thinking about the most underrated player in Steelers history. L.C deserves to be in the Pro Football HOF.

  • Jason Brant

    6th all time and he was a BIG back. Not overrated.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Kordell Stewart was the most underrated and overrated.

  • GoSteelerz

    Donnie Shell should be in the HOF, too. I think he’s seriously underrated, it seems nobody ever talks about him. You know, he only broke Earl Campbell’s ribs, and he was a 5’11 190lb safety. And he was great in coverage with 51 career ints. I think people are just tired of Steelers from that era getting in the HOF, but I do think a few more like L.C. and Donnie should get in!

  • Fu-Schnickens

    You’re right….you’re going to catch a lot of hate from me….What in the heck are you talking about? The guy was a human bowling ball who drove those massive legs right though D-lineman and linebackers (ask Urlacher). Ask yourself this…What is one of the primary reasons why the Steelers were even there for SB XL? Answer. Jerome Bettis. Did Faneca et. al. have something to do with it? Sure, but in front of every good RB was at least a couple of good lineman. The guy was nearly automatic on short yardage situations – not overrated.

  • joefalco

    you left out steve coarsen, who was no slouch either..

  • moderatelysane

    Underrated: eric Greene. Also Hines Ward, who will struggle to make HOF, even though one of the most complete WR ever.

    Overrated: Neil effing O’Donnel.

    Also overrated was Mike Tomczak, even as a backup. I always knew bad things were about to happen when he came in and touched the football.

  • profbillster

    Under-rated: HEATH!!!!

  • sean mcmartin

    Heath Miller is severely underrated. It goes without question Aaron Smith was underated. The left side has no take these days, only give.
    The Steelers need to get a stud DE to get the Defense back..

  • Brendon Glad

    I think the list depends on whether we are talking about nationally, or by Steelers Nation. So I’ll give 2 sets:

    Most underrated nationally all-time:

    1) Ben Roethlisberger

    2) L.C. Greenwood

    3) Heath Miller

    4) Donnie Shell

    5) Tie Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Mike Wagner, J.T. Thomas (Ward is on the list because even though the media loved him…the only thing they ever loved was his blocking…that got on my nerves…he was FAR more than a blocker)

    Most overrated nationally all-time: (This one’s very hard because the names the media loves the most are almost always well-deserving…so i’m going to have to dig back to when they actually were playing in Pittsburgh.)

    1) Bubby Brister

    2) Kordell Stewart

    3) Casey Hampton (liked him…but too many pro-bowls for a 2 down player)

    4) Mark Malone (Steelers Nation correctly had disdain for him…the national media never figured it out).

    5) Jerome Bettis (I liked him a lot, but the national media was a little insane about him).

    Steelers Nation (underrated/overrated) is extremely difficult because the fans are so knowledgeable. I’m going to leave “overrated” off because it’s too hard…and I probably need to explain each of my underrated so I don’t get blasted.

    1) J.T. Thomas (I was born in 1971 so I’d like a small pass, but I started with the premise of “whoever played opposite Mel Blount”…and I had to look it up)…I think that says a lot because I pride myself on knowing Steelers History from 1969 to current…and that one got me. Unlike the Mike Wagners and Rocky Bleiers of the world, anytime a Steelers 70’s legacy piece is made…the name J.T. Thomas is rarely heard, nor heard from.

    2) Brian Hinkle…he was a pretty big-time player who sort of gets lost in the great lore of Steelers LB’s, even within Steelers Nation
    3) Neil O’ Donnell…mainly because the disdain for him got so intense…I didn’t even really like him that much…but the guy kind of carried us in 1995 up until the meltdown in the SB…he was a breath of fresh air compared to Bubby or Kordell…that’s for sure. He should be remembered with slight…repeat SLIGHT fondness instead of complete disdain.
    4) Donnie Shell (just because we rarely hear about him anymore even in Steelers Nation, but he was an excellent player)
    5) Ben Roethlisberger/Terry Bradshaw (because despite the fact that the majority of Steelers Nation is or was correct in supporting them…there are still too many who didn’t for Bradshaw, and don’t for Roethlisberger). I even still get in heated arguments with some of my best friends about Ben as they complain about him. He’s gonna be a HOF’er. So if 10% of Steelers Nation has a problem with Ben’s overall body of work…that’s 10% too many to me.

    Feel free to argue…just be polite please…I’m not trying to fight…but a good debate is fun.

  • VaDave

    Thanks for the catch.

  • VaDave

    He may be 6th on the NFL rushing list, but taking a guess here, runners 7-10 are in the Hall….. No hate here for a personal opinion.

  • Brendon Glad

    I did not involve Chuck Noll because I stuck with Steelers players. I think he would have deserved to be on the “underrated” list Nationally. I do not think he’s underrated in Steelers Nation. He gets paid his proper respect there.

  • VaDave

    BTW, how does Woodley and his career average of about 3 tackles & .75 sacks a game escape this list?? Especially at $11 million dollars a year.

  • Jeff

    Trying to make a list that doesn’t include the standard names already listed, so most of these are based on their contribution to the team as opposed to overall ability and accomplishments

    Underrated: Yancy Thigpen, Kimo von Olhoffen, Jeff Hartings, Jerry Olsavsky, Mark Breuner, Dan Kreider, DeShea Townsend

    Overrated: Mike Wallace, Kendrell Bell, Willie Colon, Mike Vrabel (not so much as a Steeler but for his time in New England), Nate Washington

  • Douglas Andrews

    I agree with you regarding the “The Tackle”by BB but the “BUS” being overrated gotta disagree with you 6th all time in rushing. Just a matter of time before he gets in the Hall and rightfully so.

  • VaDave

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree he should be in the Hall. My point was if 7-10 are in, how does 6 not get in?

  • RW

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • RW

    Love that list. Though Kendrell would have been an excellent linebacker in our defense had he stayed.

  • Shea Fahr

    I appreciate the fact you are a Steeler fan but saying Bettis is over rated is pure insanity. Perhaps you are new to the fan base.

  • Craig Ressler

    Mark Malone, overated!?!? He just sucked! I can’t believe anybody would even consider rating him high in any rating!

  • Scott

    Polamalu made far too many splash plays to ever be considered overrated. He’s been seriously affected by injuries of late but to discount his prime is simply ignorant.

    Aaron smith is one of the most underrated players in NFL history and one hell of a human being on top of it.

  • Chris Ward

    Underrated- L.C Greenwood, Donnie Shell, Aaron Smith, Jon Kolb, Heath Miller

    Overrated- Kordell Stewart, Kendrell Bell, Neil O,Donnell, Eric Green, Leon Searcy

  • NimbusHex

    If anything Bettis was underrated, I don’t hate you, I just think you’re insane.

  • sgtrobo

    well, .75 sacks/game is 12 sacks/season. Bruce Smith leads the NFL with 200 sacks in his career of 279 games. .75 sacks/game for Smith would be 209 sacks. Let’s hope Woodley gets healthy and gets his mojo back. He is still only 1 sack behind Reggie White for career postseason sacks and he has played half as many games

  • NimbusHex

    Surprised to see Kordell on so many peoples lists. The guy never really seemed to get much credit from the national media to me, and I always got the impression that he was universally hated by the entire Steelers fanbase. I feel like a good portion of my childhood/adolescence was spent defending Kordell to other Steelers fans I knew.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Terry Bradshaw on the most overrated.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Rocky Blier most underrated

  • Madi

    Um, I could argue them all day. The only negative in Troy’s whole career has been the injuries, and should you even count injuries for something like this? Obviously it affects the team, but it doesn’t impact his talent.
    Criteria for this stuff is never clear. But if you want to include injuries, then yes, Troy has a weakness. Although I’d argue that he’s so good, he deserves every inch of the credit he gets and more, despite the injuries.
    But spare me that he’s been “exposed” or “struggles in coverage.” That’s nothing more than a Warren Sapp soundbite that somehow gained traction.

  • Madi

    Mine too. In fact, I still am.

  • Madi

    12 sacks a year and 2 in every playoff game? Garbage.

  • Madi

    (guys that I’ve seen play, in no particular order)

    Nationally Underrated

    Aaron Smith
    Heath Miller
    Dan Kreider
    James Harrison
    Ryan Clark
    Carnell Lake
    Ike Taylor

    Steelers Nation Underrated

    Kordell Stewart
    Rashard Mendenhall
    Jason Gildon
    Chris Hope
    Amos Zereoue
    Byron Leftwich

    Overrated (by whomever)

    Tommy Maddox
    Dewayne Washington
    Larry Foote
    Brent Alexander
    Tyrone Carter
    David Johnson
    Carey Davis
    Nate Washington

  • Brendon Glad

    It was a tough list…and I actually created an entire QB formula which resembles the one ESPN has now…way back in 2002 to try to defend Kordell as ‘better than Tommy Maddux’…but as it all shook out, I loved my formula, but grew less and less fond of Kordell as time passed (although always better than Maddux). The crying incident kinda put me over the edge…I lost a lot of respect for him over that as a guy leading troops into battle for a “war-game”
    It’s the same way I stopped supporting Vince Young as an over-criticized player when he did the same thing. While football isn’t war…it definitely was created as a “war-game”….and when your field general cries because he doesn’t get his way…I’m officially against him.
    So as time has passed, and I’ve heard multiple national media bemoan why Kordell Stewart “didn’t get a fair shot” (despite getting his ‘shot’ to start over 100 games as a QB) as they blasted the Broncos for giving Tim Tebow a few starts when their season seemed completely done….then THAT is why Kordell officially gets a firm place on my list. He’s a cry-baby to this day. (and THAT could not be reflected in my cute little QB stat).

  • hergieburbur

    I’ve rarely even met anyone with a positive rating on them.

  • VaDave

    Sacks are just one part of his job, but you can wake me up when he gets to 150 of them. I will agree he does have a knack for clutch plays. It’s the other 30 some odd plays a game when he’s out there playing patty cake with TEs and RBs that gets on my nerves.

  • steeltown

    Haha… “a dead lock for the HOF”…and.. “one of the great defenders on a franchise known for great defense” …….but, he’s overrated, whata dope

    How can you base a players status (overrated or underrated) on his recent health anyways? He’s either a great player or he’s not, he’s either contributed to championships or not… and he is and he has

  • Douglas Andrews

    Bettis just caught up in the numbers. The last couple of inductees have included some Ole Timers. Bettis gets in the Hall eventually….I fig he’d get passed up a couple of times. No way they can keep him out of the Hall

  • cencalsteeler

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see where Dave mentions he “struggles in coverage” as you say. Troy is excellent in his coverage skills. We all know Troy has free range back there, and sometimes he sneaks in and blitzes. When he does this, it leaves a part of the field “exposed” until adjustments are made by Clark or our dbs, depending on coverage. THAT is when some of the savvier qb’s pick that up and make adjustments to find that open receiver. It’s not a knock on Troy, LeBeau gives him this freedom hoping the risk pays off as a reward.

  • Edward Nestor

    Troy most overpaid and overrated player of all time. OH my calf hurts, my ankle hurts, I have to many concussions. Go do hair commercial’s we need football players not drama queens.

  • steeltown


  • Madi

    Which, of course, it does. And if the other DBs can make adjustments, then what’s the problem? If they can’t, then is the argument here that against the best QBs in the NFL, Troy will allow a completion when he takes a risk he’s encouraged to take, “at least” once a game? Everyone’s still all over Ed Reed’s jock (#18 on the top 100 to Troy’s #91), like he doesn’t allow completions against the best QBs in the game? Please, just because no one says anything when Ed allows plays doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Hell, Reed – like Troy – is also known for taking risks and gambles. Are we supposed to pretend all of his pay off and he doesn’t lose?

    I know you haven’t said Reed is better, but that seems to be the consensus around the league, and you do seem to be saying Troy is overrated. I think the opposite. The “struggles in coverage” is something that’s been thrown around NFL Network and the like, and picked up by fans, including some less intelligent Steelers fans. For the life of me, all I can think they mean is when he gets beaten playing man coverage against slot receivers, like he did a couple times by Hawkins of Cincy. They hold that against him, but I don’t see too many other safeties even attempting such a difficult task. And he’s also successful in that role much of the time, including covering receivers and split TEs down at the goal line.

  • cencalsteeler

    “I think he’s a deadlock for the hall of fame in a few years”-true
    “The last couple of years, he has significantly tailed off”- unfortunately true
    “His gambling ways have been exposed by some of the savvier qb’s”- reworded: Some teams are now more aware of his defensive tendencies- true
    “He’s spent a lot of time in street clothes in big games”-true
    “Troy, one of the great defenders on a franchise known for great defenses, but last coupe of years a big drop off”- true
    I am as big a fan of Troy as you probably are, in fact my son has his jersey on every Sunday. Though I wouldn’t go as far as to say he’s overrated, some of his quotes do unfortunately carry validity.

  • Edward Nestor

    If we had a running back with half the balls that Bettis ran with we would have three more Super Bowls. Third and one was automatic with him. Troy is over rated, made a few great plays and living off of the nice Christian guy bullshit.

  • Eddy

    Just because you’re “human bowling ball” doesn’t make you a great NFL running back. Yes, he had size and could run through people but does that mean you get an automatic HOF bid.

    The Steelers were in SB XL because they had a great defense and an offense that didn’t make mistakes. Bettis played a role but their O-Line was dominant during the mid 2000s – just look at Willie Parker’s numbers behind that line. He had 1200+ yards for 3 straight years behind the same line.

  • steves

    Kordell was ok, but nothing to write home about. “The Slash” was an option QB, but was not highly regarded in his passing.

  • steves

    Hines will be in the HOF. He is one of only 8 NFL players to have 1000 receptions and over 12,000 recieving yards. His forte was the vicious hits and they called him twice the dirtiest player in the league. His BIG smile and Gallop into the end zone in the SB will never be forgotten.

  • steves

    Troy had a torn mussel and has had many concussions.

  • Rob

    Bettis also had to run when he was the offense as it was quarter backed by cordell stewart, kent grahm and turn over tommy maddox. He also routinely apologized to his linemen BEFORE games for running up their backs if there was no hole, you better believe that motivated them.

  • walter mason

    I remember a play were a RB tried to stiff arm Polamalu and Troy just twisted his arm and forced him to the ground. He just makes unbelievable plays. Maybe he could teach that to Ike.

  • SR88

    I don’t think Harrison was underrated by anyone, probably overrated. Not saying that as a bitter fan, I just don’t think playing great for 3 years makes anyway a superstar.
    I couldn’t agree more on Stewart and Gildon.
    As for your overrated players, who on that list is looked upon as anything worthy of being called overrated? You listed a bunch of bums and Larry Foote who is an average player.

  • SR88

    O’ Donnell was before Stewart. Also, Kordell was a very good player, he was the reason for RG3, Michael Vick and Russell Wilson. (You can say Cunningham, but he was a better player, didn’t have the success Kordell had)
    Bettis can’t be overrated, he retired as #5 on the all time rushing list. I feel he is underrated, as is Curtis Martin, who also sits towards the top of that list.
    I agree with a lot of the lists aside from Stewart and Bettis. You are really putting down just how great they were in the late 90s and early 00s, and those teams were led by Stewart and Bettis. (and Ward, who you listed above.)

  • sgtrobo

    yeah, I can’t argue with that one Dave, especially lately. 🙁

  • Brendon Glad

    I knew O’ Donnell was before Stewart…it probably was just poor writing form on my part.
    I respectfully but vehemently disagree with your premise that Kordell was the reason for RG3, or Wilson…I’ll leave the Vick part alone, because his is too complicated…
    But anyone who has ever listened to Kordell Stewart attempt to speak about football matters (thank God Espn has either curtailed or cut him from the staff), can clearly see that his football IQ is nearly zero (MIND YOU: I’M NOT SPEAKING OF HIS REGULAR IQ…I have no evidence to speak of that one way or the other).
    So in my opinion, since I DO believe that racism against black-QB’s in the NFL has been a reality…then Kordell Stewart’s lack of football IQ (and his literal crying on the field like a baby) probably hurt the RG3’s and Russell Wilson’s of the world more than they helped them.
    On Bettis, like I said, his was tough…because I loved him…I’m just mainly going by the media’s obsession with him…I mean, I consider Barry Sanders very overrated too…but that doesn’t mean I don’t consider him to be an absolutely tremendous football player.
    But thanks for the polite argument. I enjoy healthy Steelers debate, even when I disagree.

  • Brendon Glad

    I think the combination of RG3 and Russell Wilson being of extraordinarily high football IQ ..combined with the visual evidence of watching Tim Tebow (as a lower football IQ guy…but with very high leadership intangibles and read-option gifts)lead a 1-4 hopeless Bronco team to the AFC Semifinal in 2011…well, those are the real reasons for NFL coaches/GM’s taking a look at them.
    And us fans have been saying it all along: “Go with the leadership and football instinct FIRST for the QB…and mold the offense to that”.

  • Brendon Glad

    I agree…but to those who adamantly oppose it…just remember it’s only because we HAVE to create a list to contribute to the list…

    The bottom line is, Steelers players usually get minimal to NO-love nationally unless they are ethereal or their teams do ethereal things. So if you have to make 5, it’s hard not to put Bettis or even Polamalu on the list….(Troy P. ain’t on mine EVER…cuz all you had to do was watch 2008 Ravens game to watch him carry us to an AFC and eventual SB title…)…

    But still, if you have to pick names, I definitely can see why either or both are on those lists. Cuz “overrated Steelers” is not an easy 5-list to do….anyone who argues with the list should try to make one themselves. You end up digging pretty darn hard.

  • Madi

    I didn’t say they were highly rated, I said they were overrated. David Johnson is a bum, but an even bigger bum than most people realize. He’s not as good as people give him credit for, so he’s overrated. Any player of any caliber is eligible to be overrated or underrated.

    I think Harrison’s play has been underrated nationally because even at his peak, he was only considered only among the best, not the very best. He was still considered less than guys like Ware and Suggs, especially as a pass rusher, despite the fact that he (Harrison) would spend something like 43% of pass plays in coverage compared to their almost never percent. They’d rush all the time, he’d rush just over half the time, come away with almost as many sacks as them, and be considered inferior. On top of being superior at what those two specialize at, he was also better against the run and in coverage. From yet another standpoint, a lot of people take points away from Harrison for being a dirty player, which I consider to be total and complete B.S. He’s a clean player, and he’s WAY cleaner than a guy like Suggs, who somehow escapes those claims (and fines and suspensions). The only downside to Harrison was his late start. But once he got going, I think his play was even more impressive than he ever got credit for – even if it was for only a handful of years.

  • 75

    While I agree that Troy is not the player he use to be in his prime he was a huge issue for opposing Qbs. This is just not a good list.

  • Don

    Sounds a little like the Ben too- ouches all the time. Specially last season.