Since being selected in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, Troy Polamalu has made a large impact on the Pittsburgh Steelers and has become one of the faces of the franchise, which makes what I am about to say very sad: It is time for Polamalu to retire.
Why? Well the fact of the matter is that Polamalu is an injury risk each time he steps on that football field and it is because of the way he plays.
He is very aggressive defensively and it has cost him in nature as the man himself admitted on the Dan Patrick Show. There Polamalu admitted to ‘eight or nine concussions’ that he has hidden and an additional ’50 to 100′ head injuries over the course of his career. He also stated that he lied to get back into a game before.
“There’s so much built up about team camaraderie and sacrifice,” Polamalu said. “Football is such a tough man’s game. … It would be no different than the guy who goes to the mines in West Virginia. It’s that kind of commitment you need to play football.”
Even though Polamalu played in all 16 regular season games last season, he has consistently had trouble staying on the football field, which was culminated by today, the latest frustration as Polamalu re-injured his calf not even a half into his latest comeback.
It’s just a sense of here we go again for Steelers’ fans who keep seeing their silent leader go down in pain once again.
While the Steelers have their struggles with Polamalu out of the lineup, let’s look once again at the facts.
Polamalu missed three regular season games in 2006, five in 2007, 11 in 2009, another two in 2010 and just this season has not been able to start in the majority of the games either.
It seems as though everytime he gets up, Polamalu goes right back down and it likely is because of the reckless way he plays the game.
While plays such as this:
are great and exciting, they are also what is hurting Polamalu. He often leads with his helmet which despite protective material still leads to head injuries and concussions.
Polamalu also needs to consider that he has a loving family. In sports we have witnessed what happens when there’s an athlete who gets too many concussions, especially in the sport of football with Junior Seau. Polamalu is opening himself up to that with the way he plays and the injuries he has are not helping his team on the field.
Now players are pledging to donate their brains to help prevent future tragedies, that does not exempt current players such as Polamalu.
With a loving family behind him, Polamalu needs to realize that he needs to stay healthy so he can support his family for decades to come.
As it stands now, Polamalu is almost certainly out for Thursday’s game against the Tennessee Titans. Retirement may end the ‘bro code’ but now is the time when you can be selfish. Polamalu cannot achieve much more than what he already has accomplished. As far as I am concerned, he is a Hall of Famer as it stands right now and as much as possible retirement may seem that he is giving up on his teammates he can always coach or just go home to a loving family.
Steelers’ fans are very passionate people but sadly they are blind to the fact that Polamalu continues to get hurt playing for the team. All they seem to care about is whether or not the team wins or loses. All athletes are people and while many of them get paid a lot of money, they have lives off of the field. Fans criticize the players for every mistake or loss. The players stick their necks out often, not just jeopardizing their playing careers but their lives. Fans should care more about the players as people as often they are just like us.
The bottom line is that, Polamalu is playing with fire by staying on the football field, because as my colleague Matt Shetler likes to say, ‘every time the wind blows he gets hurt’.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.