The Steelers are often held up as one of the model franchises in the NFL, in part for their willingness to do business the smart way.
But when pragmatic becomes unfeeling, it can lead to some frost with even their best players.
Via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that might begin to thaw tonight, when Troy Polamalu is scheduled to appear at a charity dinner honoring Steelers wideout Antonio Brown.
Polamalu still lives in Pittsburgh, but hasn’t been around the team since they forced him into retirement last offseason. The eight-time Pro Bowler and member of the team’s 75th anniversary team even skipped an event honoring the Super Bowl XL team last fall.
“I don’t think that there’s any bad feelings on his part,” longtime agent Marvin Demoff said. “I really don’t. I think that in his own way he just had to step away from football — ESPN, the NFL Network, anything involved in football. . . .
“I think that’s true, that he was disappointed. But he didn’t want to pursue anything else other than the Steelers. He had other opportunities in broadcasting and playing. The answer was always no.”
The Titans had an open door for him, and he and former Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau would have had plenty of common ground to talk about being pushed aside for younger models.
Steelers team president Art Rooney II is expected to be in attendance at the event tonight, along with other members of the organization. And if Demoff is right that there’s no hard feelings, it could be that the year away was the time Polamalu needed after an exit that wasn’t as graceful as his career was.