Long-Time Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu Retires
Troy Polamalu may not have necessarily wanted to end his professional football career, but it turns out his desire to only play for one team was stronger than his desire to keep playing in the NFL. Per reports, the star Pittsburgh Steelers safety is walking off into retirement at 33 years old.
Polamalu cited a desire to spend more time with his family, but his decision to call it quits was arguably two-fold. His age appeared to be catching up with him, as his health and effectiveness had visibly regressed over the past few seasons. His on field deterioration was ultimately leading to an eventual release from Pittsburgh, as well, as the franchise was hoping he’d see the writing on the wall before they would have to force their hand.
While Polamalu could probably still start for another NFL team for a couple more seasons, he’s opted to save face and go out on top. He won’t exit the league with much to be upset about, as he’s a two-time Super Bowl champion and a one-time Defensive Player of the Year (2010).
As hard as it will be to lose Polamalu’s experience, the Steelers have to be somewhat excited about the future of their defense. Polamalu was still a solid playmaker in spurts, but his speed and explosiveness had been at least slightly sapped and his shaky health made him a tough player to lean on (13 missed games over the past three seasons).
The team figures to move on with Shamarko Thomas at safety, which will signal an overall youth movement on defense. Pittsburgh also previously moved on from defensive lineman Brett Keisel, while linebacker Jason Worilds also opened up another spot by retiring early. Despite the loss of some key bodies, Pittsburgh figures to be getting younger and more athletic on the defensive side of the ball, which should help them in their bid to make it two years in a row in the playoffs.
Polamalu wasn’t exactly elite down the stretch in 2014, but no one will remember him for his final days at less than full strength. An elite playmaker for most of his career, Polamalu will end his 12-year stay in the NFL with 12 career sacks, 14 forced fumble, 32 interceptions and five defensive touchdowns. Steelers fans collectively probably agree the time is now to say goodbye to Polamalu, but there’s no doubt it’s a bittersweet moment.
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