Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu announced his retirement after a 12-year NFL career, per The Herald-Standard of Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu has announced his retirement from the NFL.
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Polamalu called Steelers chairman Dan Rooney on April 8 to inform him he has officially ended his 12-year NFL career. The Steelers previously requested him to retire in February, but decided now would be the perfect time to do so after attending the Holy Week of the Greek Orthodox Church this past week, per The Herald-Standard's Jim Wexell.
Polamalu started in nine games in 2014 before he sprained his right knee ligament, forcing him to sit out the Steeler's last seven regular-season games. He returned during the playoffs and recorded eight tackles, per Wexell.
In an exclusive phone interview, the 33-year-old Polamalu told Wexell his main consideration for announcing his retirement is his family:
"It's all about family. I live here in Pittsburgh now, and since the end of the season I've had a chance to enjoy my family on a level I never had before. It was awesome.
"I did not seriously consider playing elsewhere. 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.
"Thirty-three is obviously significant because of Christ being 33; and 12 years, 12 apostles. 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 also told Wexwell that his wife, Theodora, did not plead with him to retire from the NFL:
"She was the most supportive person. I would ask her, 'What do you want me to do? What should I do? And she would say, 'Troy, I'm not here to tell you what you should do. I'm here to support you in whatever decision you want to make.'"
Polamalu, the father of seven-year-old Paisios and five-year-old Ephram, told The Herald-Standard he will mainly spend time with his family during retirement:
"Well, that's the big question. That was also part of the hesitation. What am I going to do now? I think the best I can do is make up for lost time, and that's with my family. 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 possibly 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."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette stresses the Steelers won't pay Polamalu his $6 million salary because of his decision to retire. Instead, Pittsburgh will pay him the remaining $4.5 million of his pro-rated signing bonus over the next two years.
Because of Polamalu's retirement, the Steelers will save $3.75 million in salary-cap space for the 2015 NFL season, per Bouchette.
Polamalu's announcement is the latest in a string of changes the Steelers' defense has undergone.
According to ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter Scott Brown, the team did not renew defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's contract last January. Twenty-seven-year-old free-agent linebacker Jason Worilds also decided to retire last month.
Now that Polamalu is gone, Brown says third-year safety Shamarko Thomas will most likely replace him in the Steelers' starting lineup.
Brown adds part of the reason why Polamalu turned down Pittsburgh's request to retire in February is he believed the team is shaping up to be a Super Bowl contender.
Polamalu, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, finishes his NFL career with 771 tackles, 12.0 sacks, 14 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and 32 interceptions, per ESPN stats.
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