The 2003 Pittsburgh Steelers were prepared to make franchise history by moving up in the first round, and as Whaley began to call teams, he was greeted with disbelief on the other end of the line.
“A lot of teams were like, ‘Yeah, yeah, you’ll really come up,’” said Whaley, official nfl jerseys cheap then-Pittsburgh’s pro personnel director who later became general manager for the Buffalo Bills. “And other teams were like, ‘What?’ At first, they didn’t believe us. It just showed the confidence Kevin Colbert and Bill Cowher had in the player.”
That player was a game-changing safety out of USC, a speedy, hybrid defensive back before it was trendy, an eventual Hall of Fame talent who sent lightning through Pittsburgh’s defense with perfect hair and Marvel superhero leaps over the line of scrimmage.
This week’s NFL draft marks the 15-year anniversary of a trade that forced a traditional team to act non-traditionally to acquire Troy Polamalu with the 16th overall pick.
The Steelers never had traded up in the first round before that moment, nor had they drafted a pure safety in that round.
But the Steelers wanted to improve their secondary and got their guy for modest compensation, giving Kansas City their 27th pick — which it used on running back Larry Johnson — along with the 92nd pick (corner Julian Battle) and 200th pick (quarterback Brooks Bollinger).
The Steelers’ draft room is known as businesslike, emphasizing consensus building over reactionary high-fiving.
That day, everyone sensed the satisfaction without saying a word.
“We’ve always had the philosophy, if you like a guy, you go get him,nfl authentic jerseys ” said Ron Hughes, the Steelers’ longtime college scouting coordinator who retired in 2015. “We drafted the best player available to us.”