Pittsburgh Steelers want Troy Polamalu to retire

Ed Bouchette, CBS Pittsburgh:
The biggest move yesterday was the one the Steelers didn’t make by using the franchise tag on Linebacker Jason Worilds.

The Steelers are under the cap and are not forced to make any decisions just yet regarding cutting salary. However, Bouchette does mention that more cap relief will come when they begin to restructure certain contracts.

Then, there is the case of Troy Polamalu.

“That is the elephant in the room,” Ed Bouchette said. “I expect him not to be here by some means. The Steelers are hoping he would retire, but I don’t know if he is going to.”

The problem is how to tell a 33 year old, eight time Pro Bowler, 12 year veteran, 142 starts on defense with an $8 million salary cap hit to just retire is the issue. The "heart and soul" of the vaunted Steelers' defense, that went to three Super Bowl wins in the past decade while winning two, was led by S Troy Polamalu. The 16th pick in the first round of the 2003 NFL draft from the University of Southern California has fashioned a possible hall of fame career in the Steel City. If the 2003 draft allowed a do-over, Troy Polamalu would be the top choice.

There is another former NFL safety from the University of Southern California that was asked to move on, just as the Steelers are attempting to do with Troy Polamalu. That would be Pro Football Hall of Fame safety, Ronnie Lott of the San Francisco 49ers. Lott helped them win eight division titles and four Super Bowls. Following 10 years of stellar defensive play for the powerhouse San Francisco 49ers, Lott was left unprotected and forced to leave the 49ers. San Francisco had completely forgotten about the impact that Ronnie had on their football team. Lott had the tip of his left pinky finger amputated after the 1985 season when it was crushed by tackling Dallas Cowboys' running back Timmy Newsome, and a bone graft surgery wouldn't have him ready in time for the 1986 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers should be careful in what they wish for. “There’s a great sense of pride in how the fans bonded with the team and vice-versa.” Hoping and praying that their best safety, since Mike Wagner of those four championship teams of the 70's, should just go away is not how it is supposed to work. Being a leader on the "Black and Gold" for the past decade should count for something.

Paul Murphy is a freelance writer from New Hampshire.

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