Veteran Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu announced his retirement from the NFL on Thursday in an interview with Jim Wexell of SteelCityInsider.net.
"It's all about family," Polamalu said to Wexell. "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."
The Steelers have to be happy with the decision, as there were reports they'd hoped he would retire so they wouldn't have to release him. That will mean a more ceremonious exit and that his storied career will end where it all began. Apparently, the team had nothing to worry about anyway, since Polamalu said he would not have donned another uniform other than black and gold:
"I did not seriously consider playing elsewhere," Polamalu said. "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."
The 33-year-old Polamalu has spent his entire professional career in Pittsburgh. He entered the league as a first-round pick in 2003 out of USC, becoming a Pro Bowler and All-Pro by his second season. Polamalu sustained his success for nearly a decade, earning his last All-Pro nod in 2011 and being named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade team. He also won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2010. Polamalu played a major role in all three of the Steelers' trips to the Super Bowl since the turn of the millennium, helping the team win two rings.
But Polamalu's effectiveness dipped in recent seasons. The range that made him such a feared playmaker disappeared, leaving Polamalu as a box safety. Pittsburgh adjusted, leaving him closer to the line of scrimmage, but he became a liability in pass coverage. Quarterbacks had a rating of 114.8 on balls thrown in Polamalu's direction in 2014.