Veteran Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has retired from the National Football League after 12 terrific seasons.
The decision was broken by Jim Wexell:
Polamalu was one of the NFL’s defensive stars of the 2000s. He was known for his trademark reckless on-the-field play. He would routinely line up everywhere on the field, and had the ability to cover receivers, stop the run or blitz in long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s open system. He was also known for his trademark hair due to his Samoan heritage.
Polamalu’s announcement quickly trended on Twitter, leading to prominent sports media members to respond.
Polamalu had one of the best careers at the safety position in NFL history, but he was noticeably a step slower in 2014. His impact, both on and off the field, will be missed in the black-and-yellow city.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Polamalu Was a Star at USC Before Being Drafted
Before Polamalu even played down in the NFL, he was a special player at USC. Former head coach Pete Caroll — now a Super Bowl winning head coach — had the luxury of coaching Polamalu in his defensive backfield.
The 2003 USC Trojans won the 2003 Orange Bowl by defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes 38-17.
In his three seasons, Polamalu had six interceptions, three which he returned for touchdowns. He was also a First Team All-American in 2002.
2. He Spent His Entire Career With the Steelers
In what has become a rare instance, Polamalu spent all of his 12 seasons in Pittsburgh and never once was he ever in danger of leaving the Steel City.
Polamalu became one of the faces of the city of Pittsburgh and a mainstay in the community. Through the years, Polamalu was active in his charitable efforts and often honored for it by the organization and his peers.
3. He Is 1 of the NFL’s All-time Great Safeties
Polamalu’s stats don’t tell the entire story of just how important he was to the Steelers defense through the 2000s.
Polamalu made eight Pro Bowls (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013), was a four time First-Team All-Pro (2005, 2008, 2010, 2011), a 2010 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but his most important statistic? As a member of the Steelers, Polamalu played in 15 playoff games. The Steelers failed to make the playoffs just three times in his 12 seasons.
4. He Won 2 Super Bowl Championships
The Pittsburgh Steelers reached the AFC Championship Game four times in Polamalu’s tenure with the team (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010), winning three of them (2006, 2008 and 2010). The Steelers made three Super Bowl appearances, winning twice.
In 2006 the Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 to win Super Bowl XL; in 2008 the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 to win Super Bowl XLIII; in 2010 the Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV.
5. He Was a Marketable Star Off the Field
One of the special features that made Polamalu stand out from the rest of his peers was his long hair — due to that Samoan descent.
Polamalu made several commercials over the years for Nike, Coke and — obviously — Head & Shoulders:
Polamalu’s personality was radiating and he was universally liked by mostly every one of his peers. Polamalu was also secretly well liked in the Baltimore Ravens locker room, but don’t tell Terell Suggs that.