Troy Polamalu

Be it because of the injuries, concussions or simply some religious revelation, Troy Polamalu is retiring from the NFL after 12 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, which include winning two Super Bowls and being named as the league’s defensive player of the year once.

Polamalu has wrestled with the decision for quite some time, but a knee injury that kept him out of four games in 2014 and his overall poor performance, which includes not recording a single sack or interception for the entire season made it obvious that it’s not just that his best days are behind him, but he’s also just not good enough to contribute in the way that he’s used to.

Polamalu spoke to the Herald-Standard of Unitown about his decision to finally make up his mind and retire, despite parts of him still wanting to remain in the league. All the signs pointing towards moving on with his life and ending his football career were there.

Since the end of the season I’ve had a chance to enjoy my family on a level that I never had before. It was awesome. Thank God football has provided me the ability to be able to sit back and see what the options are. But I’ll definitely be the best father I can be. Maybe it was a sign for me to retire when I chase my kids around and couldn’t catch them. It was either a sign for me to retire or a sign for them to begin training.

I had talked to a lot of people about what I should do with my situation, and what they kept saying back to me, and which was not a sufficient reason, was, ‘Troy, you played 12 years in the NFL, you won Super Bowls, won individual awards. You have a legacy. And I just kept saying, ‘First of all I don’t care about a legacy. Second of all I play the game because I enjoy it.’

But when I started this process and started to debate whether I should come back or should I play, that was kind of the sign for me to say ‘Whoa, if you’re just even debating it maybe you shouldn’t play anymore,’ because what I do know about this game is it takes a lot — a lot — of commitment just to be an average player.

Part of the reason I wanted to come back was they’re talented, they’re really talented. I think it’s an exciting time to be a Steeler. I do know one thing is that (sheer) talent doesn’t win Super Bowls. There has to be another component there. I do think the team next year can be really successful. How successful only time will tell.

A defensive star for USC in the early 2000’s, Polamalu was a first round pick by the Steelers in 2003. He is an 8-time Pro Bowler and five-time First Team All-Pro. He was named to the NFL’s team of the 2000’s and has 32 career interceptions, 14 forced fumbles, 12 sacks and three defensive touchdowns. Despite a career that wasn’t too long, it’s hard to believe he won’t be in the hall of fame in a few years, probably as a first ballot.

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