Unlike the other all-time great safety in the division, the Steelers' Troy Polamalu is committed to playing this season. But Polamalu did acknowledge to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he thinks of the end of his career "all the time."
"People have asked me how many years do you think you can play? My reaction is always, when you live day to day, it's hard to talk years," he said. "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."
It's fair to say that Polamalu, who turned 31, has fewer years ahead in his playing career than behind him. But that won't impact this season. The fact that Polamalu was there for voluntary workouts will.
Polamalu usually skips these practices because he prefers working out with his trainer in Los Angeles. He said he chose to come this year "for obvious reasons."
"We had a lot of our major leadership leave, people that we count on," he said. "I think it's nice for the younger guys to see a familiar face, and, honestly, to get myself better."
This older Polamalu might think of retirement more, but he is also more mature and responsible. He understands the effect of losing the likes of James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Chris Hoke on defense. He understands that the Steelers need him in Pittsburgh and not on the West Coast.
General manager Kevin Colbert said at the NFL owners meetings that he couldn't identify who would become the new leaders on this team. "We're looking for that right now," he said.
Well, the Steelers looked at one when they saw Polamalu entering team headquarters for a workout in May.