Pittsburgh Steelers were dealt a huge blow on Saturday night when they went down to defeat in the NFL playoffs at home to bitter rivals Baltimore Ravens.
But what could be even more brutal than that 30-17 Wildcard Round defeat would be the potential retirement of one of the Steelers' best players.
That's right, the end of the season for Pittsburgh brings about the annual questions about whether or not legendary safety Troy Polamalu will hand up his cleats and venture off into retirement.
Polamalu speaks about potential retirement
In recent years the speculation and rumors about Polamalu retiring have become louder and more realistic, and when questioned on the subject after the Steelers' playoff loss at the weekend, Polamalu hinted that he may be ready to bring his playing days to an end this offseason.
Following the devastating defeat, Polamalu told the press that it was fair to ask him whether the game would be his last NFL career game. "Yes, it is," Polamalu told ESPN. "Time will tell."
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Would the Steelers actually benefit?
But one other question has popped up in the last week or so and it has lead to the notion that the Steelers may actually be better off without the NFL legend.
There is no questioning that Polamalu has been one of the most dominant NFL players in history. But that was during his prime years and they are definitely a thing of the past.
To say that Polamalu has struggled this season would be an understatement. The 33-year-old has looked a shadow of his former self. But despite this, Steelers' Mike Mitchell still scoffed at the thought of his team benefitting from a potential Polamalu retirement.
"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," safety Mike Mitchell said. "That's absurd. It just shows the disrespect that some people have, and they have no clue about our game."
Whether or not Polamalu retires remains to be seen. If he does, he will leave a huge void in the Steelers' locker room if not on the field.