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Polamalu to retire after 12 seasons with Steelers

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
| Thursday, April 9, 2015 10:57 p.m
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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Troy Polamalu, who turns 34 later this month, spent 12 years with the Steelers, making eight Pro Bowls and winning two Super Bowls.

The Steelers gave veteran safety Troy Polamalu the choice of playing somewhere else or retiring.

After more than a month of consideration, Polamalu has chosen retirement.

Polamalu informed Steelers chairman Dan Rooney Thursday night that he will retire after 12 seasons with the team, thus bringing a close to one of the more dynamic careers in the organization’s storied 82-year history.

“He had a lot of nice things to say about the organization, and it was very sincere,” Rooney said in a statement Friday. “He is a good, family man, which meant a lot to him. I think that’s part of what he is going to do (moving forward). But he’s been a tremendous leader, really a leader by example, not only as a great football player but as a great person.”

Polamalu, who turns 34 on April 19, spent his entire career with the Steelers, making eight Pro Bowls. He was named to four All-Pro first teams, won a pair of Super Bowls and was named NFL defensive player of the year in 2010.

However, the Steelers made the decision to move on from Polamalu last month. In an unusual move, the Steelers allowed Polamalu time to make a decision of whether he wanted to retire before the team was going to release him.

Polamalu told SteelCityInsider.net on Thursday that he never really considered playing for another team.

“It was just whether or not I wanted to play,” Polamalu said. “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. There’s nothing left to prove. 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.’ That’s the reason to keep playing.”

Polamalu played in 158 regular-season games and finished with 32 regular-season interceptions, but it was his ability to make the spectacular play that separated him from the others.

“Troy is a shining example of a football man in the way he loved the game, the way he respected the game and the way he played the game,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “It’s a shining example of the window into who he is. He is a legendary Steeler and a legendary man. I congratulate him and wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

General manager Kevin Colbert added: “Troy Polamalu was as unique a person as he was a football player. His actions as a human being were just as impressive as any of the many inhuman plays he made on the football field. We were very fortunate to have him be a part of our organization for the past 12 years. We wish him and his family all the best as they move into the next phase of their lives.”

Polamalu was originally drafted with the 16th overall pick in the 2003 draft. He played in 158 career regular-season games with 142 starts, and he started all 15 postseason contests that he played in. Polamalu’s 158 career games played during the regular season are the fifth-most among defensive backs in team history.

Along with being a two-time Super Bowl champion, Polamalu was also named to the 2000’s NFL All-Decade Team and to the Steelers’ 75th Anniversary Team, but it was his off-field charity work and laid-back demeanor that made him unique.

“He has influenced many people both on and off the field, which was really an important part,” Rooney said. “We’ve been fortunate to have great players throughout the years, but he of course would be one of the top players. He did everything with dignity and responsibility, and it was special to have Troy be a Steeler his entire career.”

Polamalu’s retirement saves the Steelers a possible ugly public relations situation of releasing him, but also saved the team $6 million in salary in 2015 if the retirement papers are processed after June 1.

The Steelers could fight to regain a prorated portion of Polamalu’s signing bonus of $6.75 million ($4.5 million), although that’s highly unlikely because of his good standing with the organization.

“On behalf of the entire Steelers organization and the Steelers Nation, I am happy to be able to publicly celebrate and thank Troy for his many contributions to the Steelers,” team president Art Rooney II said. “His unique style of play will be remembered among the all-time Steelers. His passion for the game of football on the field and his willingness to be a contributor to the community make him a very special person.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

Categories: Steelers
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