The news of Stephon Tuitt’s retirement yesterday was a surprise to many. To his teammates, they knew what was coming. Veteran defensive lineman Tyson Alualu told reporters Thursday that Tuitt told the team days ago he intended on retiring.
That comes courtesy of this video tweeted out by The Trib’s Chris Adamski a short time ago.
Tyson Alualu said Stephon Tuitt called his teammates a couple days ago about his decision to retire.
“I said, ‘You sure you wanna do this?’“ pic.twitter.com/HSSb00aO4d
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) June 2, 2022
Over the last several months, there was growing optimism Tuitt would return to the team for 2022. Cam Heyward went as far as to make it sound like a formality. And Alualu admitted he thought Tuitt would be back, too.
“It did look like he was planning on coming in,” Alualu told reporters today. “Whatever it is kind of came up and he came to a decision that’s best for him and his family.”
Tuitt made the official announcement yesterday through the team, pointing to the loss of his brother Richard in a hit-and-run last summer coupled with Tuitt’s graduation from Notre Dame pushed him to something beyond football.
Though Alualu and his Steelers’ teammates would’ve loved to see Tuitt suit up next to them, Alualu said he respects Tuitt’s choice.
“When he called us a couple days ago, of course when he told us the news it was, ‘are you sure you wanna do this?’ Just throughout that conversation, that’s all I told him, if he’s good, we’re good.”
Alualu sent out this Instagram post following Tuitt’s official announcement, congratulating him on a “helluva career.”
— Steelers Depot 7⃣ (@Steelersdepot) June 2, 2022
While the timeline isn’t exactly clear, it stands to reason the Steelers’ front office were also given notice days ago that Tuitt was set to retire. He’s likely to be officially placed on the Reserve/Retired list by the end of the week, opening up a roster spot.
Pittsburgh will have to move on without Tuitt as Tuitt moves on to life’s work. Alualu’s return is an important add to the team, now healthy after missing all but five quarters last season with a fractured ankle. Prior to the injury, Alualu had found the fountain of youth in Pittsburgh and had become an excellent all-around nose tackle. Young players like second-year Isaiahh Loudermilk and rookie DeMarvin Leal will have to step up to help replace Tuitt, which certainly won’t be a one-man job. Pittsburgh’s run defense must significantly improve after finishing 32nd last year, allowing five yards per carry.