Troy Polamalu Rookie Cards & Why You Should Collect Them

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With the 16th overall pick in the 1st Round of the 2003 NFL Draft, the Pittsburg Steelers selected Troy Polamalu from the University of Southern California. He has 19 official rookie cards along with 30 rookie parallel cards. Let’s take a look!

Why You Should Collect Troy Polamalu

Troy played for 12 seasons all of them with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and all of them in the Strong Safety position. He played in 158 games, owns 132 interceptions all of them on defense, and 3 interceptions returned for touchdowns!

Accomplishments include 8x Pro Bowler | 4x All-Pro | 2x Super Bowl Champion | 2010 All-Pro Defensive Player of the Year.

On the field it’s been said that he displays beautiful recklessness, the intensity of a Tasmanian devil, uncanny instinctive player, talks softly but carries a big stick, when tackling he hits you like a freight train, and… he has beautiful hair!

His long, wavy, jet black hair is world famous with a multitude of television commercials and magazine covers. His hair has even been insured for one million dollars by Head & Shoulders. The hair makes him look like something out of Braveheart or Conan the Barbarian movies.

The Heart of the Man Troy Polamalu

What impresses me most about Troy is his kind, humble, yet mature persona. I really enjoy putting together rookie cards of players with outstanding integrity and heart, rather than the loudly arrogant, entitled players.

Troy has said this about football and life, “I don’t think I love football. I love life, I love life but football is a part of life, and in that way I love football. I don’t idolize football, football does not run my life. Football is not who we are its what we do.”

He goes on to say, “There’s a lot of temptation out on the field. Dealing with arrogance, ego, and pride that I just try to protect myself against. I think there comes a point in the game where you’re just not really cognizantly thinking.

“You just kind of see how everything develops. The way the offensive linemen come off, the way their set and the way they split. You see the quarterbacks energy and the more and more you play the game of football the more you have this sensitivity to the rhythm of the football game.”

This explanation of football is poetic in nature. It’s been said, so as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. The heart of this man is the heart of a champion. A man who not only knows the game but knows the condition of his humanness and is aware of the dangers of falling into a trap spiritually and psychologically. Because of this, I’m a fan and that’s why I will collect Troy Polamalu rookie cards.


Official Rookie Cards of Hall of Famer

Troy Polamalu

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2003 Absolute Memorabilia, #149

NOTICE: Before we begin allow me to make mention of a couple of things I noticed about football products in 2003. First, most sets have a “Tier” system. For example Tier 1 may be rookie cards 100-150 and are serial-numbered to 1000, Tier 2 rookies 151-200 are serial-numbered to 750, etc. Lastly, sets seem small in size, so all are released in a single series, with a large rookie card checklist.

Leading us off is this beautiful offering given to us by Playoff. The set is 180 cards in size and houses 80 rookie cards within it. The card of Troy Polamalu is serial #d/1100. The card front has a chromium type finish to it and the card back is very colorful with player bio, stats, and commentary.

There are two parallels. Spectrum #d/100. And Samples which were inserted one per Football Beckett Magazine!


2003 Bowman, #257

This dual black-bordered beauty is challenging to find in gem mint condition. Great action photo of Troy in his practice uniform seems to be a theme. The card backs of the Bowman brand always go above and beyond offering collectors everything a good card back should have plus the UP CLOSE segment making it a bit more personal.

Bowman is a 275 card set and houses 165 RCs! Parallels include Bowman Uncirculated Silvers, they came one per box in a separate box topper pack. Uncirculated Gold came one per box in a separate box topper pack as well and was inserted into Hobby boxes. Each has a stated print run of 1:111 packs.


2003 Bowman’s Best, #90

Bowman’s Best is made with sturdy card stock so its a brand favorite for those who like to have cards graded by third party authentication. I really like the design of this one, the photo on the card front is outlined in white which makes it look like a YouTube video thumbnail. The card back is sectioned off nicely and makes it easy to read.

This is a 173 card set. It also offers short-printed rookies however, RCs numbered 81-90 are not short-printed and that includes this one. Parallels are Blue 1:3 packs #d/499 and Reds 1:30 packs #d/50.


2003 Donruss Classics, #250

Donruss Classics is a 250 card set. It is a very classy card design and features Troy in his college uniform which is one of only two that do. They are also serial #d/900. Parallels include Timeless Tributes randomly inserted and serial #d/100. A secondary and debatable parallel is the 2003 National Sports Card Convention “National Promos” they are stamped with a unique logo and are serial #d to only 5!


2003 Donruss Elite, #200

Donruss Elite offers the 2nd card of our featured Hall of Famer in his college uniform. It has quality card stock and high levels of mirror foil on the card front, so much so it’s almost impossible to get a quality picture or scan.

Elite is a 200 card set and most of the 100 rookie cards in the set are serial #d/500 and there is a handful that is serial #d/100 for whatever reason. Parallels include Aspirations which are serial #d/100 minus the player’s jersey number, so for Troy Polamalu this parallel RC is serial #d/57.

More parallel cards in Aspirations Gold is also offered and is a 1 of 1. The parallel Status is serial-numbered to the player’s jersey number, so for Troy this parallel RC is #d/43. And finally, the 2003 National Sports Card Convention “National Promos” serial #d/5.


2003 Finest, #61

Topps Finest is another product made by Topps with sturdy card stock so its a brand favorite for those who like to have cards graded by third party authentication. This is a 149 card set. The card theme displays a multitude of hexagon shapes on both sides.

Parallels include, Refractors 1:3 packs and are serial #d/199. Gold Refractors come 1:12 packs and are serial #d/50 and lastly, X-fractors were inserted one per box.


2003 Gridiron Kings, #149

Gridiron Kings is a 175 card set and features Troy Polamalu in an artistic painting design. The card back displays the same photo in a blurred out background and the commentary highlights his draft position as a crowning moment.

There are three parallels in this set, Bronze 1:6 packs, Silver randomly inserted and #d/150, and finally Gold, randomly inserted too, and serial #d/75.


2003 Leaf Rookies & Stars, #250

Leaf Rookies & Stars is a very unique card to me for two reasons. The colors used in this one are the same as the Pittsburgh Steelers, this is a nice touch. Also, the front of this card has plenty of room for Troy Polamalu’s autograph. I’ll be looking for him to do signing a session and this will be my go-to. Serial #d/750 is the cherry on top.

Coming in at 295 cards, the set also has the largest number of rookie cards at 199! There is only one parallel, Longevity is randomly inserted and serial #d/25.


2003 Playoff Contenders, #190

This black widow kills the competition. Contenders is a 200 card set and what makes it stand out is a sophisticated matching color scheme, it is the only rookie card that is autographed and its serial #d/989. Put it all together and you have one epic rookie card. There are two parallels, Playoff Ticket serial #d/30 and Championship Ticket which is a 1 of 1.


2003 Playoff Hogg Heaven, #198

This pigskin looks and feels design is filthy. Love the colors and the big bold fonts. Playoff Hogg Heaven is not a plate full of bacon, it’s a 230 card set and its respectfully serial-numbered to 1000. There is one parallel, Hogg Wild and its serial #d/100.


2003 Playoff Honors, #150

Yet another stunning design created by Playoff. The color scheme for this one matches the Pittsburgh Steelers and a ROOKIE background. The card back is solid too giving us full college stats, commentary, and player bio.

Playoff Honors is a fairly large set coming in at 230 cards, the rookie class that it houses is large with 130 players too. Rookie cards 101-150 are found in hobby packs only and are serial #d/550. One parallel, Honors X’s #d/100.


2003 Skybox LE, #71

Perhaps the most valuable rookie card of Troy Polamalu. Why? Because of scarcity. With only /99 copies available its extremely difficult to pull from a pack. Why? Because it’s a 160 card set and there are 100 rookie cards within it. Making our chances of getting one is 1: in many packs. There is one parallel, Executive Proofs which is a 1 of 1.


2003 SP Authentic, #120

Quality card stock along with forgiving white borders makes this one a candidate for those collectors who like third party authentication. This is a 269 card set and it houses 179 rookies. Design is okay but the back of the card looks a bit busy and hard to read. There is one parallel, randomly inserted SP Authentic Gold is serial #d/25.


2003 SP Signature, #117

SP Signature is a 200 card set. It displays a zoomed-in photo of Troy Polamalu and big bold letters. Loving the card back as well giving us more big font, commentary, and player bio. This one is serial #d/750. Oddly enough there are no parallels in this set. It also offers collectors eight different autographed subsets but none include Troy.


2003 SPx, #184

SPx is a premium product with bold colors and lots of flashy design. Overall, to me, this card has lots of artistic features. This rookie card is serial-numbered to 1500, respectively. The set also offers 218 cards and there is only one parallel, Spectrum #d/50.


2003 Sweet Spot, #208

Sweet Spot is a 231 card set and houses 126 rookie cards. Nothing really excites me about this one, the only that stands out is his uniform. The card back lacks player bio, stats, and appears somewhat dull. The ultimate thing this one has going for it, in my opinion, of course, is scarcity offering collectors only 300 copies. There is only one parallel, Sweet Spot Gold, #d/25.


2003 Topps Chrome, #274

The Topps Chrome brand is a collector favorite. It is a 275 card set and houses 110 rookies that only came 1:3 packs. Although the card has brand popularity I feel it falls a bit short on card design. The color scheme is harsh, action photo in practice uniform and the back is bland as well.

Parallels include Black Refractors 1:108 packs and #d/100. Also, Topps Chrome Gold X-fractors came 1 per pack and are #d/101.


2003 UD Patch Collection, #106

UD Patch Collection is known more for their awesome insert patch cards then they are rookie cards. Card design is decent even though Upper Deck decided to recycle the same photo.

It is a 162 card set and only houses 57 rookies which makes it the smallest rookie offering, they only come 1:4 packs and are not serial numbered. Oddly enough there are no parallels in this set.


2003 Upper Deck Finite, #225

Alphabetically, Upper Deck Finite brings us to the final rookie card of Troy Polamalu. It’s a decent size coming in at 300 cards and houses 109 rookie cards. This particular one is serial #d/999 copies. The colors and overall design make this one decent. There is one parallel, Upper Deck Finite Gold comes 1:10 packs and is serial #d/50.

Happy Collecting, Collectors

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Sources:
Troy Polamalu Stats | Pro-Football-Reference.comĀ https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/P/PolaTr99.htm (accessed May 18, 2020).
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