|Polamalu showed up at OTAs to provide veteran leadership. (Getty Images)|
It feels like Troy Polamalu should be older than 31. That's not because he looks old or slow or whatever, but it's just because he's been running the Steelers backfield for what feels like more than nine years.
But he is 31, and that means he's dealing with football mortality. And Polamalu admitted during a rare appearance at Steelers offseason training activities that he thinks about the end of his career "all the time."
"People have asked me how many years do you think you can play?" Polamalu said, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "My reaction is always, when you live day to day, it's hard to talk years. It's always been my mantra in life, whether it was my first year as a rookie or year 10, I just live day to day."
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves here, let's note a couple of things. One, Polamalu didn't say he was retiring anytime soon. He simply said he thinks about it (there's that football mortality and whatnot) all the time. Two, Polamalu's one of the more even-keeled guys in football -- and without question the guy whose real-life demeanor is the biggest contrast with his on-field play -- and it would be surprising if he wasn't making a rational decision about his future in football.
Perhaps questions like that are simply why he doesn't like to go to OTAs. Polamalu is there this year, according to our Steelers Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder, primarily to provide leadership on a Steelers team that looks a lot different than in years past.
"How we react to [leadership change], time will tell," Polamalu said. "But losing some major players on this team is going to be quite different. You can't say that it won't affect the team."
Polamalu wanted the younger guys with the Steelers to "see a familiar face." There's no question things are different. The story you'll hear about is Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley, but the reality is that the absence of defensive leaders like James Farrior and Aaron Smith could have the biggest impact on Pittsburgh this season.
Polamalu is there to try and mitigate the damage their absence could cause.
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