After the 2014 season, the Steelers gave iconic safety Troy Polamalu a choice: Retire or be released.
Not much room for misinterpretation there.
It led to a predictable ugly breakup. Polamalu, then almost 34, believed he still could play. He thought long and hard about taking his release and playing a 13th NFL season with another team, perhaps following his former defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, to the Tennessee Titans. It took weeks before he finally and reluctantly decided to retire in early April 2015.
“If I’m in my fourth year, fifth year, even if I’m in my 10th year, I’m playing in Alaska,” Polamalu said.
If the Steelers can do that to Polamalu — arguably the most popular player in franchise history not named Jack Lambert — they can do it to Ben Roethlisberger.
It has that feel, doesn’t it?
Or as a wise baseball man once said, “Déjà vu all over again.”
Any day is a good day when you can start with a Yogi quote, right?
Steelers management has been a lot less quotable about Roethlisberger’s immediate future but still has said plenty. First, Mike Tomlin said, “It’s reasonable to assume there’s a chance he will be back, certainly.” Then, Art Rooney II said he would like to see Roethlisberger back but quickly added, “There’s a lot of work to be done to see if that can happen.” Finally, Kevin Colbert chimed in last week with what many interpreted as a kiss of death when he said, “As we sit here today, Ben is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.”