There was much speculation not just in the months, but the years following Troy Polamalu’s retirement that the manner in which it all unfolded soured his relationship with the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, it having even been suggested that he wanted little to do with the team anymore.
It’s a topic the man himself has now addressed multiple times as he’s set to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While he might have harbored some initial frustrations over what, according to reports, essentially amounted to their strongly urging him to retire perhaps before he is ready, he has long accepted the timeline, and become grateful for it.
“In regards to how my career ended, it ended at the most perfect time”, he said during his media availability for Hall of Fame weekend yesterday. “I’m so grateful that I’m here today, with the faculties that I have, with the health that I have, with my family, and being able to experience the memories that I’ve had, had I not continued to play. I’m definitely grateful for the time that my career ended”.
Drafted in 2004, Polamalu spent his entire 12-year career with the Steelers before retiring following the 2014 season. By that point, most seemed to feel that it was time for him to retire. He certainly wasn’t quite the same player he once was, but he clearly left a lasting legacy.
Polamalu would ultimately make the Pro Bowl eight times, including every year from his first as a starter to his penultimate season, minus the two years he missed significant time due to injuries. He was also a six-time Pro Bowler, a Defensive Player of the Year, and a pivotal cog in the defensive machine that drove the Steelers to three Super Bowl appearances, with two championships. That’s a union that’s hard to turn your back on, and he certainly hasn’t.
“In terms of the relationship since, I’ve had a great relationship, to be honest”, he said. “I went out to dinner several times with Mr. Rooney, whenever they come out to L.A. and Mrs. Rooney. I’m still close with the family and many of the owners. I don’t make it out to Pittsburgh much because my kids are deeply involved in sports. My relationship with, with the organization has been great”.
He did admit that he doesn’t follow football, nor the Steelers, very closely these days, at least not personally. He allows his dear friends and former teammates, Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark, to be his eyes and ears in terms of what’s going on in the league today.