A little over a week after stating to reporters that he believed defensive end Stephon Tuitt would report to the team “sooner or later,” Pittsburgh Steelers’ star defensive end and team captain Cameron Heyward had to address the media again on Thursday on a somber note, talking about the retirement of his close friend after eight seasons in the black and gold.
Throughout the entire offseason, Heyward remained rather optimistic throughout the process, believing Tuitt would play in 2022. On Wednesday though, Tuitt sent shockwaves through the organization, announcing his retirement from the black and gold to move on with his life’s work.
Thursday, Heyward addressed Tuitt’s retirement, stating he supports his teammate and close friend and that he “don’t give a damn if it makes me look like a liar.”
“We’d had some talks, and I was optimistic. But, he’s gotta do what’s best for him,” Heyward said to reporters, according to audio via 93.7 The Fan. “You can’t be selfish and just think, ‘Oh, I want Stephon Tuitt to play.’ I’m more concerned about Stephon Tuitt the person.
“He’s been called to do other things, and we’re gonna miss him, but it’s not a eulogy. That dude is still gonna be a part of my life and many other guys’ life. And we just gotta be ready.”
Hearing Heyward talk about Tuitt’s retirement, despite the optimism from the defensive captain, Tuitt’s decision was truly a 50/50 toss-up overall, especially after having missed the entire 2021 season due to a knee injury, and also tragically lost his brother to a hit and run in Georgia last summer.
“He told me it was fifty-fifty going both ways, and I think we could all agree what he’s been through is not easy,” Heyward said, according to audio via 93.7 The Fan. “Every day it’s a different battle. So, I think he just thinks the best thing for him and his family was to go through retirement.
“…That’s a question for him,” Heyward added regarding a possible change in Tuitt’s stance in recent days. “I could only talk about what me and him talked about and I’ll keep some of it private, but we were all concerned, but we believed he was gonna be coming back, but I can’t be mad at a guy for not wanting to come back. It’s just unfortunate. I’ll look like a liar, I don’t give a damn, but I would’ve loved to have him back.”
While it’s clear that the retirement of Tuitt is a massive blow to the Steelers ahead of the 2022 season, his closest friends and teammates on the roster are nothing but supportive of his decision, which is the correct way to handle this, rather than shaming him for delaying the decision and somehow messing with the Steelers’ offseason plans in the process.