The story of Tyson Alualu agreeing to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars only to change his mind after having time to reconsider following a positive COVID-19 test has probably been told as much as any other related to the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason. But it’s an important one to remember because it drives home the reality that these sorts of decisions are frequently not about the individual, but about the family.
The Alualus together made the decision to stay in Pittsburgh, for the good of their family, which Tyson relayed while speaking to reporters last week, first laying out how it unfolded. “I was supposed to fly out to Jacksonville the next day. I had family in town”, he said. “They went and got tested, and got positive for COVID. So I didn’t even know I had it, and then I went that day and got tested, and I came out positive. So I wasn’t able to fly out to sign a contract”.
What unfolded at that point was a whole lot of talking. With a whole lot of different people. I’m sure it was a very difficult decision to make in the first place, and a close one when all was said and done, though, so it’s not surprising that it resulted in an ultimate change of heart.
“Throughout the whole process, even before I agreed to terms, my teammates and Coach [Karl] Dunbar were calling me, checking up on me, wanting me to stay. Me and my wife had a lot of conversations about what choice we wanted to make”, Alualu said.
“Even after we agreed to terms in Jacksonville, after talking about it and praying about it, we felt like this was the best decision for our family. And like I said, it’s nothing against Jacksonville, but I’m glad that we’re still here in Pittsburgh, and knowing what I get to do”.
Alualu and his wife, Desiré, have been married since 2005, long before he was ever even in the NFL. The couple have six children together, spanning the ages of 15 all the way down to one. Their two youngest children have never known anything but Pittsburgh as their home, while a third was likely too young to remember much of Florida.
The couple sold their Florida home late last year, he also said in the same interview. The plan was to make Pittsburgh their permanent home, at least until he retires. Alualu’s clearly not ready to do that yet, changing his mind to sign another two-year contract to stay with the Steelers, having just earlier this month turned 34 years old.
NFL players are just like any other humans: They have relationships with other humans. A lot of them are married and have kids. They have to make decisions based on these relationships. It’s so much more complicated to uproot yourself when you have to drag your family along with you — or dare part with them for some time for work.