Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney asked Troy Polamalu to retire in February. Then a more powerful voice requested his departure from the gridiron on Thursday.
“It’s our Holy Week this week,” the Steelers safety told the Uniontown Herald-Standard. “Our Easter is on Sunday. I’ve been in church and had a lot of time to contemplate. It actually hit me today in church that, ‘Man, you know what? You’re done. You’re done. Your training is done. Your getting in your stance in football is done.’ It actually hit me in the middle of church. I was like, all right, man, it’s time to start living. Because I’ve been living the dream.”
Polamalu says that his inability to catch his five- and seven-year-old sons when he chases them contributed to his decision. He maintains that he never considered playing anywhere but Pittsburgh.
Though incredibly popular in the Steel City, Polamalu may face a challenge winning induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, according to Darril Gantt of ProFootballTalk. “Safeties are among the most under-represented positions in the Hall of Fame, with any of them struggling to get beyond the finalist vote to 15,” he writes. “There are currently 24 defensive backs enshrined in Canton, a group dominated by cornerbacks.” He notes that Donnie Shell, who may have been a better Steelers safety, failed to win honors in Canton, and that playing in an era with Ed Reed may hurt Polamalu. But the All-American USC Trojan surely can point to playing a more starring role among his Steel Curtain cast than Shell and show his two rings to Reed’s one.
Polamalu won spots on eight Pro Bowl teams and played as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. The hard-hitting safety, known for his wild hair and intense play, accumulated 32 interceptions and 12 sacks during his career. But the Samoan-American, hobbled by injuries the past few seasons, slowed considerably in 2014. The 33-year-old spent his entire 12-year career as a Pittsburgh Steeler.
“Thirty-three is obviously significant because of Christ being 33; and 12 years, 12 apostles,” Polamalu told the Evening-Standard. “I’m not superstitious by any means but I always thought that if I played 12 years and retire from football at 33 and give my life and give my body and give my blood to this game, I think that would be a pretty significant landmark in my life.”