FLORHAM PARK, NEW JERSEY // New York wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who was traded by the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Jets before the season for a cut-rate price, said winning a Super Bowl would be proper payback to his former team.
Holmes, the Super Bowl MVP for the Steelers when they won the NFL title in 2009, was traded last April for a fifth-round draft pick given off-field problems and a four-game suspension for violating substance abuse rules.
He will face his former team when New York visit Pittsburgh on Sunday in the AFC Championship game with the winner moving on to the Super Bowl in Dallas on February 6.
"This game is about getting to the Super Bowl. I don't care about the Steelers right now," Holmes told reporters at the Jets practice facility when asked if this week's game against his old team was "personal" for him.
"If we win the Super Bowl, then everything is personal. That's a slap right back in those guys' face for trading me. But right now, it's not a focus of mine."
Holmes, a first-round draft pick for Pittsburgh out of Ohio State in 2006, made an acrobatic, game-winning catch to clinch the Lombardi Trophy against the Arizona Cardinals.
He singled out one Steelers player as a potential obstacle to the Jets landing a Super Bowl berth.
"I honestly think Troy Polamalu is probably the greatest player I've ever played with or ever seen play in person," Holmes said about the bushy-haired Steelers safety.
"The things that he (does to) disrupt a team. He's jumping over the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball. He's tackling runners in the backfield. He's jumping up, intercepting the ball one-handed.
"He's returning it for touchdowns. He's doing numerous things."
Polamalu, who is of Samoan descent, did not play in last month's 22-17 Jets victory over the Steelers due to injury, and Holmes said New York must pay special attention to him.
"Just having him keyed in and keeping the ball away from him, playing sound football and not turning it over and giving him any opportunities to make those type of plays can definitely keep him from disrupting our team," said Holmes, who would love to claim a Jets ring to flaunt over his old mates.
A victory would secure a match-up against the winner of Sunday's NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.