Most NFL fans are familiar with the sight of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu crossing himself during games, but one subset of fans is gleefully aware that he crosses himself from right to left, rather than left to right.
“Each time there is an important play, he makes his cross the Orthodox way. Nobody else does this, and it is a beautiful thing,” said Metropolitan Maximos, of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, who officiated at the wedding of Troy and Theodora Polamalu four years ago.
Mr. Polamalu, an ethnic Samoan, long has had a strong Christian faith, but was non-denominational until he joined his wife’s Greek Orthodox church. The metropolitan is quick to note that Orthodox enthusiasm for Mr. Polamalu isn’t intended to denigrate any other branch of Christianity.
“I’m very proud of him. But, to be honest, I don’t care if his background is Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox or any of the Protestant communities, as long as the guy is a faithful person. And Polamalu is that, and his wife is as well,” he said.
When football doesn’t allow the Polamalus to worship together on Sundays, they make weekday visits to the Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Saxonburg. Their infant son was baptized there. But the nuns won’t be watching him play in the Super Bowl, Metropolitan Maximos said, because they don’t watch anything on television that isn’t religious.