Report: Troy Polamalu retiring after 12 seasons with Steelers

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One of the stalwarts of two Steelers Super Bowl runs and one of the top safeties of his generation is stepping away from the game.

Troy Polamalu, an eight-time Pro Bowler, will retire after 12 seasons with Pittsburgh, the safety told Jim Wexell of in a story published Thursday night.

The Steelers’ first-round pick in 2003, Polamalu was known for his rare blend of instincts, athleticism and physicality. He was, at his best, a safety who could be deployed just about anywhere on the field, with the speed to cover deep and the ruggedness to thrive in run support. He finishes his career with 770 tackles and 32 interceptions.

Polamalu told Wexell his decision came after a good deal of contemplation, and that family was the primary factor. and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette both reported that the Steelers had asked Polamalu to retire, with the Post-Gazette reporting the club was prepared to release him.

But it never got to that point. Polamalu told Wexell when he “started to debate whether I should come back or should I play, that was kind of the sign for me to say ‘Whoa, if you’re just even debating it maybe you shouldn’t play anymore,’ because what I do know about this game is it takes a lot — a lot – of commitment just to be an average player.”

The 33-year-old Polamalu figures to draw strong Hall of Fame consideration. Of his contemporaries, only the ballhawking Ed Reed of Baltimore was comparable from a playmaking standpoint.

One of the few knocks on Polamalu was durability; he played 16 games in only two of his final nine seasons. But when he was on the field, he played with dynamism rarely seen at his position, and he departs the game secure as a Pittsburgh legend, an integral member of the Super Bowl XL and XLIII squads.

196 responses to “Report: Troy Polamalu retiring after 12 seasons with Steelers

  1. As a Ravens fan, this is one Steeler I won’t miss when Pittsburgh visits M&T Bank. He was an absolute beast at safety. You always had to take in account where Polamalu was lining on every snap.

    Much respect. Good luck in retirement, Troy.

  2. From a Bengals fan. Hats off to a fine career!! “Hated”
    the guy no doubt but he’s been a game changer for quite
    some time!! Peace out Troy!

  3. I hate the steelers but I have the nothing but respect for troy!!!!! Wish him nothing but the best, man was he fun to watch. Troy and Ed both First ballot HOF players!!!!!! Sad day for everything that loves this sport.

  4. Steelers fan since I was old enough to dress myself; seen a lot of great players over the years. But Troy made more big plays and changed more games than anybody I have seen, and I’ve been a fan since 1970. thanks for the memories.

  5. Feels like we’re taking ole yeller out back doesn’t it? Respectable player being put out to the pasture.

  6. Had some good battles. Relieved I dont have to see you creeping toward the line anymore, Much respect Troy. Enjoy Retirement. Future HOF’r.

    – A ravens fan

  7. Putting the hairball in the same paragraph with Ed Reed is a joke. Ed is the greatest player to ever play the position. Troy isn’t even a poor-man’s Ronnie Lott.

  8. Quite a few times Troy smashed my hopes of the Ravens beating the Steelers. As much as I hated they plays he made against us, I respected his incredible ability. I later found out how much of a class act he was off the field. One of the raps against him was his durability; but what doesn’t seem to be mentioned is that he played every down of every game he was in with unmatched intensity. While I’m glad the Ravens no longer have to face him, I will miss him. Much respect to this man.

  9. I’m a Ravens fan, but I always admired and respected Polamalu’s game. Like Ed Reed, he was a ballhawk. But the safety I think he most compares was Bob Sanders of the Colts. BIG hitters. Hard time staying healthy. And, their defense weren’t the same when they were out of the lineup. Enjoy your retirement, Troy.

  10. Man, goodnight and God Bless to one of the greatest ballplayers the game has ever known. The quintessential Pittsburgh Steeler. You will be missed and celebrated forever by The Nation, far and wide. We’ll never see another one like you again.

  11. As a Vikings fan and a NFL fan, my hat is off to Polamalu. That dude did things on the field that I thought only Superman would be capable of!! Congrats, Troy, and thank you for some of the most amazing football memories ever!

  12. He should have retired after Greg Jennings burned him for two TD’s in his last SB. In fact I thought he did!!

  13. Great pro! Good luck in your retirement…we will see you in 5 years…in the hall of fame

  14. A truly great player when he was in his prime; guys that play like tazmanian devil maniacs just don’t physically hold up forever. Great career but it was time to hang em up.

  15. He was special when he was healthy and younger. The Packers made him look bad in the Super Bowl, he was a shadow of his former self in that game and that was four years ago.

  16. What a joy it was to watch this guy play. A marvelous player and by all accounts, a good dude as well.

    If we’re defining a ‘generation’ as twenty years, Troy is the quintessential once-in-a-generation type of player. In fact, you may never see another safety play the game the way this cat did.

    Thanks for the memories, 43.

  17. Much respect for TP. Hope he has a good life away from the playing field and wont suffer from any long term health issues related to playing as physical and passionate as he did. Great safety and player. Don’t remember one time his name showed up in any issue off the field. HoF? Maybe.

  18. Don’t tell me all the Steeler fans are asleep!

    Figures they show a picture of him against the
    Bengals! Of all people getting ready to tackle him
    it’s Carson Palmer!! After an interception!! haha

    Hall of Famer though for sure!

    Pardon me, I just threw up a little bit!

  19. Troy was a class act on and off the field
    Hall of Fame is in his future

    He was a quiet humanitarian off the field and gave so much of his time and money to the homeless of Pittsburgh

    Good luck Troy!

  20. Easily the best Steelers player on Defense outside of the 1970’s. In his prime he would be a top 5 Steelers defender of all time. Every game the opposing Offense had to game plan around him, and never knew where he would be coming from. His interception during the San Diego game stands out among one of the best plays that I can recall.

    He hasn’t been the same player the past 2-3 years, but he will be sorely missed. Not just because of his play-making abilities, but also his genuine care for others.

  21. One of the most fun, entertaining, and professional players to ever play the game. It was always exciting to watch him play, thanks very much Troy and best of luck to you.

  22. Comparing him to a guy like reed is highly obscene. Very overrated. Was completely abused by the pats and other sound offenses his entire career

  23. Troy, you were everything an NFL player should strive for. You were humble, likeable, respected, revered, team player, game changer, freak of nature, family man, and first ballot Hall of Famer.

    I’ll never forget some of the inhumane plays you made, especially when you jumped over the line of scrimmage against a Joe Flacco QB sneak and grabbed his oversized head in a headlock and made the play like no one else on this planet possibly could.

    You’ll be missed but your legacy will live on forever.

  24. Tremendous playmaker on a multiple SB winning team. Both he and Reed were game changers and no brainer first ballot HoFers.

  25. First ballot hall of famer. Great player, i believe he did alot of charitable work for wounded vets. So from my perspective, a great guy too!!!

    -a colts fan-

  26. He made his money, won awards, won lots of football games. Was one of the best if not the best safeties in the nfl. Hopefully he can enjoy retirement with his health.

  27. I hate the Steelers with a passion and never liked Polomalu, but there’s no doubt whatsoever that he’s a Hall of Fame player.

  28. Been a joy and a pleasure….and please stop with the Ed Reed comparisons…different positions…both asked to do significantly different things on the field…i can see an argument over which of the two had a greater impact on the game, but NOT over which was the better safety.

  29. A first ballot HoF without a single doubt. Class on and off the field. Mad respect from this Raven fan for you, Troy. Enjoy retirement and see you in Canton

  30. As a ravens fan, I will miss seeing him. Good career Troy. I hated you when you played my team, but loved watching you any other game.

    On a side note, the average age of the steelers defense just went down by a good bit. Bright side?

  31. As a ravens fan…..I hated this guy! But man……he would’ve looked good in purple!!! Thanks for the effort & for being a great part of the best rivalry in your era. Ravens fans will miss you 43! 5 years….Canton.

  32. You know you’re getting old when players younger than yourself retire. Troy was a baller. One of the greats.

  33. Strong Hall of Fame consideration? He was a generational talent. He’s a lock. Hell of a career Troy. Congrats.

  34. I’m glad that he’s going out with dignity. I am no fan of the Steelers, but I’m a fan of Polamalu. Him, my man Sean Taylor, Ed Reed…the best safeties of their generation. In Polamalu’s prime, he was a terror – in the secondary, in the box, everywhere. Pure football player. Seems pretty decent, on-air. Maybe he’ll be a former player/analyst.

  35. One of the classiest individuals to suit up for this league. Shame to see him walk away, but so grateful for the opportunity to watch him not only as a Steeler, but as a Trojan. I wish him the best.

  36. WOW. I know it sounds like such an incredible understatement but, what a football player.

    There was no one else like him. I look forward to seeing how much hair they include on his bust in Canton.

  37. Troy will be one of three Steelers from the Super Bowl 43 team to reach Canton, both he and Big Ben are first year eligible locks. The third, Hines Ward, will take longer, but will inevitably get in.

  38. Stinks that he wasn’t able to play for a few more years and retire when he wanted to, but it just goes to show in this day and age how truly difficult it is to be able to go out on your own terms.

    Maybe Ed Reed bombing in Houston and NY might’ve soured people on giving Troy another shot …

  39. One of the classiest and best saftey…even players to ever play. Nothin but love for Troy and what he has done for the Steelers. Unfortunatley, all good things come to an end at some point. Much Respect.

  40. Never a steelers fan , but a fan of great ballers…
    If I had it to do again I wish I would have played more like you…
    Good luck in retirement…well earned

  41. Wondering if Reed was holding his retirement plans so as not to compete with Troy for HOF votes ….bet Reed will retire next year

  42. As much as I know he needed to go and wanted him to retire, I am sad that his time is up. He will be missed and have enjoyed watching him play. Enjoy your family Troy.

  43. Good riddance. SOO overrated. He only garnered attention because he looked wild on TV with his hair flying everywhere… he made one ridiculous fingertip interception, made a couple leaping plays at the LOS (which drew just as many offsides as it did successful plays), and bounced off of half of the tackles he attempted to throw his shoulder into. Was never impressed outside of that one interception

  44. Absolute legend. Endless number of plays come to mind. Blowing up Chris Johnson on the Thursday night season opener, timing the snap count and leaping over the line, intercepting Flacco to seal the AFC championship. Gonna miss this guy more than any Steeler I’ve seen retire so far. Still remember thinking who the hell is this maniac when Larry Johnson was yanking his hair on an interception return way back in 2004. Classiest most humble guy by all accounts too. Honored this guy was a Steeler

  45. Wow! A Steeler legend, a tremendous football player, an awesome talent and an even better person! Thank you for the great moments Troy, God Bless You and Yours!

  46. Even though I don’t care for the Steelers, I’ve always liked Troy Palomalu. Loved the way he played, always much bigger than he looks. I’m going to miss his Head & Shoulders commercials.
    Have a great retirement Troy, you’ve earned it.

  47. I’m not a Steelers fan, but Congrats Troy on a great career! You left it on the field every game and are a class act.

  48. HOF lock.

    Loved watching him play, he was a part of some great defenses.

    Some of the best football I’ve ever seen is the AFC North rivalry between them and B’more. Low scores, and people getting knocked out.

    Real football. He’ll be missed.

  49. Polamalu will be back this season with the Steelers or a diff team.

    It is one thing to retire on your own, it is another for a team to tell you to retire or they will outright release you.

    Polamalu is the type of player that wants to go out on his own terms, not someone else’s!

  50. He’s one of those guys I’ll tell my children and grandchildren about. The man played the game the way it was meant to be played.

    Tip of the cap and thank you from a Green Bay Packer fan

  51. From a Philadelphian:
    If there was any “recent” all around safety that could give Brian Dawkins a run for his money it is Polamalu. 43 was probably more versatile, but 20 was more durable, and a bit more “hard nosed”. That being said Ed Reed is 3rd as being the “ball hawk”. Call it “homer-ism” or what have you, but being all 3 teams are relatively close to each other I’ve seen all 3 on a regular basis. Regardless all 3 SHOULD ABSOLUTELY be in the HOF.

  52. I’m sorry whatever writer this is but Sean Taylor’s name needs to be mentioned in this article with those two.

    Ed and Sean were both better but Troy was art of the convo, and they all were part of the same generation drafted in 02, 03 & 04.

    Troy played SS and had the edge in run support but not by much. Reed and Taylor were both played FS. Reed had was the guy that created the word “ball hawk” and Sean was just a freak! RIP Meast.


  53. I don’t think there is a fan in the NFL that didn’t wish he was on their team, and that includes me and I am sure many other fellow Raider fans.

    He was a straight up baller. Just a heck of a player, leader and a good man.

    Good luck Troy, wishing you health and wellness in your retirement.

  54. Why does everyone keep comparing him to Ed Reed? For the millionth time, Reed was a free safety; Polamalu was a strong safety. Their roles on their respective teams were vastly different. Reed was probably the best ball hawking free safety there ever was; Polamalu was probably the most versatile strong safety there ever was. Polamalu couldn’t ball hawk as well as Reed; and Reed couldn’t play the line of scrimmage as well as Polamalu. It doesn’t matter, because all that matters is the amount of impact they had on opposing offenses… And they were both game changers in that regard. One a free safety, the other a strong safety.

  55. I was in attendance at the game shown in the picture. This is the winning play, where TP has just intercepted the great overrated choker Palmer, and awesomely, Palmer now stands between Troy and the end zone. Watching TP wipe him out while scoring the winning TD is priceless.

    P.S. For all the insecure Baltimore fans rushing here to pimp their guy — sorry, Reed couldn’t carry Polamalu’s jock.

  56. This guy had a 2 or 3 year stretch where he was must see TV. He played safety like no other player I’ve seen before. Comparing him to Ed Reed is apples/oranges. Ed Reed had incredible ball instincts but he wasn’t really a run stopping safety. Polamalu was like that Tasmanian devil cartoon, a disruptive force flying all over the field.

  57. Ed Read is good, Polamalu was GREAT

    Don’t you Ravens homers get it confused. Troy is a HoF guarantee, Ed MIGHT be.

  58. Thanks for the great years of service! Although, for less money I’ll take you back at 33 years old, part time than 75% of the rest of the starters in the nfl. Thomas will be good, but needs more of your help,
    Steeler Nation

  59. In his prime as long as he wasn’t playing against your team he was the kind of player who makes you want to watch the game Sunday after Sunday.

    Thanks and good luck!

  60. Polamalu goes down for me personally as my favorite player all-time on the defensive end. The guy was literally everywhere on seemingly every play. He always had his fingerprints all over the game, he was a flat out beast. I’m really gonna miss him in the game. Unquestionably a 1st ballot HOFer.

  61. Polamalu, Reed, Harrison, Lewis, the goes on and on. For a time, we blessed with something special. Time flies, especially in the nfl. Steelers vs Raven still a great rivalry, but something rare has ended.

  62. A true hall of Famer! The safety position was revolutionized by a guy like him. I’m going to miss him, but I hope his health is in good shape after retirement.

  63. Fellow Ravens fans: Enough with the Reed is better stuff. Both were great, both will be in Canton. Reed was a better ballhawk, Polamalu was a better play disrupter. Glad to see Polamalu hanging it up rather than milk it (which Reed did). The two will forever be linked because they were at their primes during the peak of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, when the two teams were among the very best in the league, with brutally violent matchups every single time. Somewhat sad to see another piece of that era gone, because football itself has changed since then. Congrats on a great career, dude was a beast.

  64. Living not far from Pittsburgh I’m generally forced to watch the steelers every week. That said, I’ve always liked watching 43 play. In an era of football where the rules have all but eliminated defense, Troy played the game the way it was meant to be played, hard nosed and with reckless abandon. Congrats on a great career

  65. Sure Reed had more INTs and was good at returning but the 2 played 2 different positions and 2 very different roles. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.

  66. Ed and Troy were among the funnest players to watch in the league in their primes. We’re still waiting for the next great safety.

  67. The game changed considerably during his time. Thankfully, he did not. This Bears fan can’t stand 31 other teams, but liked watching this guy play. Thanks for the memories Troy and good luck!

  68. He played a vital part in making the Steelers-Ravens “the NFLs version of a back alley brawl” as Al Michaels put it.

    For that the real Ravens Nation is forever greatful.

    Canton for sure.

  69. You shouldn’t say a player is better without supporting it. Indeed, my grandfather once told me, “numbers don’t lie.” Reed had twice as many interceptions, five times as many interception yards, twice as many touchdowns, and for being a ball hawking safety, he still had around the same number of tackles as Polamalu. Also has three times as many interceptions in the playoffs which is probably the most important. Troy himself has stated he thinks Reed is the best safety ever. It’s in the Gazette.

  70. Enjoy retirement He was a great great player and a class act. A lock for the HOF. I am going to miss his play and respect the way he played the game. The right way. Steelers Nation thanks you for the years and dedication and great player and a class act. Thank you Troy

  71. one of the the best to ever play the game and that hair and his personality were just icing on the cake…..thanks for all you did Troy and good luck we will miss you!!!

  72. I’m a Bengals fan and I loved watching this guy play. He played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He was a great example of “leaving it all on the field.”

  73. Not a PITTSBURGH fan but I must say plenty of sports writers forget they went to 3 SUPERBOWLS in the past 11 seasons. Won 2 lost the third to the Packers which was only 4 years ago. U can’t discredit a superbowl appearance even if it was a loat

  74. While I am a Patriot fan and dislike the Steelers in general, there are some players in the League who transcend the Jersey. Its been a pleasure to see one of the greats on the field for the last dozen years. Except when he played the Pats, of course.

    Five years from now we should see another Steeler enter the HoF.

    Happy retirement Troy.

  75. Ed Reed was too scared to tackle. Ed was great at pass coverage. Ed was terrible at run coverage. Troy was great at both. Yes, Ed had more INTs, but Troy was the complete package and allowed the Steelers to win with mediocre CBs. Ed did not make the players around him better. Troy did. And Troy could tackle.

  76. Legend.

    And everyone saying “Reed was better” should realize they played different positions. That’s why they were always standing next to each other at the Pro Bowl.

  77. Nobody was a ballhawk like Reed, guy had a magnetism that seemed to always spull the ball in his direction. That being said, Polamalu is an exceptional player and one of the few Steelers that I actually like and respect. Far too many of them talk mad crap and don’t back it up but he should be considered for the HOF when his time rolls around.

  78. Legend.

    And everyone saying “Reed was better” should realize they played different positions. That’s why they were always standing next to each other at the Pro Bowl.

    To be fair, Reed played SS the first three years of his career.

  79. Nothing but respect for Troy, how he played on the field and how he acted off of it. His “controlled chaos” style of play was AWESOME.

    I even liked his shampoo commercials!

    Go get your yellow blazer in Canton.

    -Pats fan

  80. Hate the Steelers with every fibre of my being but damn was Troy Polamalu great! Congrats on a steller career, one of the greats and sure fire hall of famer.

    Go Troy!

  81. I am a die hard Ravens fan and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Player that Troy was, and the man he is. Certainly Canton bound.

    I also give him credit for “officially” hanging it up. I love Ed Reed, but just say the words already. And please spare. Ed is a good guy too. I am just frustrated that #20 doesn’t say it.

  82. When the division or a playoff game was on the line against the Ravens, Troy showed up. Ed Reed got lost, worried about Hines Ward taking his head off. Not until Hines retired did Ed Reed win a ring.

  83. As a Bengals fan, I hate the Steelers.
    But TP was and is a class act.
    The NFL needs more like him.

    And why in the world are so many giving thumbs down for this?

  84. Incredible talent on the field, Incredible person off the field. It was a pleasure to watch #43 over the past decade.

    Enjoy your retirement Troy, You will be missed.

  85. .
    always funny watching him jump over the line

    odd how the announcers apparently never saw him do it till he got a penalty

  86. What I don’t understand is, so many people log in here, and comment after comment people say how much they miss defense, and how they hate that players cant hit without a flag being thrown. Goodell is ruining the game. Yet here is a player who played the game old school, flying all over the field, with no regard for his body. Playing football the way that we all ‘say’ we like it to be played. And yet the same people or at least some of those people are saying he was over rated? I much prefer the posters, who are honest and say that while they may not like the Steelers they respected the way Troy played the game. As for durability, perhaps the reason he had so many injuries, is because of the fact he threw his body around on the field. The guy is only 5’10 and 205. I’m sure all of those big hits on players twice his size took a tool. What does it say about your football knowledge, when you say he doesn’t deserve to be in the hall of fame, and yet several years from now he will be voted in?

  87. When this guy was playing without injury he was a beast. I have never seen a safety cause such confusion and disruption for the offense. His anticipation was off the charts.

  88. As a lifelong Browns fan who has seen and despised many a cheap shot Steelers through the years of (literally kicking players who were down to spearing them as the lay on the sideline after a tackle), Troy was as classy of a player who you could ever see. Played a crunching style of play, hit very hard and no cheap shots, and after every play just got up and went back to the huddle for the next play. No taunting, gloating, etc… I won’t miss him a bit, but respect him and expect to see him in the hall down the road from me in a few years.

  89. Thanks to Troy for his play and professionalism to the game of football. Hands down, Troy Polamalu epitomizes what it is to be a role model . . . played the game with intensity and precision, great family man, humble, and absolutely no off the field embarrassments. The players of today should take note and follow his lead. The league would be better for it.

    Thanks Troy, there will never be another like you!

  90. 33rdasylum says:
    Apr 10, 2015 5:31 AM

    Polamalu, Reed, Harrison, Lewis, the goes on and on. For a time, we blessed with something special. Time flies, especially in the nfl. Steelers vs Raven still a great rivalry, but something rare has ended.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Well said! Completely agree with you. It applies to the offense, too: Jerome Bettis & Jamal Lewis, Hines Ward & Todd Heap, Roethlisberger, Flacco.

    And the coaches, Cowher & Billick, couldn’t stand each other. Yet there was a respect (and a handful of Super Bowl rings between them all).

    A chapter has closed for sure.

  91. Great player in his prime, HOF most likely. But let’s be real, he didn’t retire voluntarily, he was shoved out the door. Respect to Troy for not trying to prolong his career by refusing to retire and then forcing the Steelers hand and making them cut him.

  92. I do not think he has been on the top of his game for years.
    The Packers exposed him in the Super Bolw and he has not had the same affect since.
    He is still a Hall of Famer
    And is a STEELER
    Best of Luck

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