"It's all about family," Polamalu said in a phone interview. "I live here in Pittsburgh now, and since the end of the season I've had a chance to enjoy my family on a level I never had before. It was awesome."
The Steelers had asked Polamalu, who carried an $8.25-million cap hit for 2015, to retire in February, but he resisted until this week. He dealt with a sprained knee ligament last season but believed he could still continue playing.
"I did not seriously consider playing elsewhere," Polamalu said. "It was just whether or not I wanted to play. I had talked to a lot of people about what I should do with my situation, and what they kept saying back to me, and which was not a sufficient reason, was 'Troy, you played 12 years in the NFL, you won Super Bowls, won individual awards. There's nothing left to prove. You have a legacy.' And I just kept saying, 'First of all, I don't care about a legacy. Second of all, I play the game because I enjoy it.' That's the reason to keep playing.
"Like I said, what it came down to was definitely family. If I'm in my fourth year, fifth year, even if I'm in my 10th year, I'm playing in Alaska. But when I started this process and 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."
Polamalu finishes his 12-year career with 32 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles, 12 sacks and five defensive touchdowns.
If the 33-year-old Polamalu does not retire it is expected that the Steelers will cut him.
Polamalu has been selected to eight Pro Bowls during his 12-year career.
"That is the elephant in the room,” Bouchette told 93.7 The Fan. “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.”
Polamalu has two years left on his contract and carries an $8.25 million cap hit this season. He's spent his entire 12-year career in Pittsburgh, making eight Pro Bowls.
“Honestly, we just lost a game,” said Polamalu, who turns 34 in April and missed four of the final seven regular-season games with injuries. “I don't think I'm prepared to even think about that or talk about that at this time.”
Polamalu led Pittsburgh with eight tackles in the 30-17 playoff loss to the Ravens on Saturday night, but he did not deliver any game-changing plays. He has two years left on his contract.
While he admitted his future is up in the air, Polamalu sounded intrigued about returning in 2015 and playing with a team that got younger and better this year.
“There is a lot of young talent all over the field,” he said. "This team really grew throughout the season, not just in the secondary."
"I needed to see him prepare. Sometimes a guy is able to play at the 11th hour and they don’t get the in-helmet preparation over the course of the work week," Tomlin said. "When you get to January football and the stakes are high, detail is going to define you. Not only him but us, and you need that in-helmet preparation to do it. He was able to practice this week, and so that made the decision easier. Had he not been able to practice this week, that’s an element of the discussion that makes it more complex. That’s what I was referring to earlier in the week."
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