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Troy Polamalu: “I did not seriously consider playing elsewhere”


It was clear in the weeks leading up to Troy Polamalu’s retirement that the Steelers were done with him, and urged him to retire so they didn’t have to cut him.

But it took Polamalu a bit longer to come to the realization he reached last night, to retire after 12 NFL seasons.

He said he considered last year’s injuries to be freakish in nature, and not a sign he was breaking down. That gave him pause, and made him wonder if he wanted to play. But ultimately, he chose not to uproot his family for another year in the league.

“I did not seriously consider playing elsewhere,” Polamalu told Jim Wexell of the Uniontown Herald-Standard. “It was just whether or not I wanted to play. 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.

“Like I said, what it came down to was definitely family. If I’m in my fourth year, fifth year, even if I’m in my 10th year, I’m playing in Alaska. 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.”

Polamalu also cited a religious coincidence, as part of his reason for stepping away.

“Thirty-three is obviously significant because of Christ being 33; and 12 years, 12 apostles,” Polamal said. “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.”

Polamalu doesn’t need to explain his decision to anyone, or in any way. His 12-year career was brilliant by any measure, with a pair of Super Bowl rings and five All-Pro selections, and a reputation for bringing chaos to controlled environments.