(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
On the night before the first training camp practice, Vince Williams surprisingly called it a career after eight seasons with the Steelers. It caught a lot of fans off guard, as it was just on July 9 that Williams tweeted, "I wanna win a super bowl for the city so bad. The love they give me now is nuts, I can only imagine what it’s like after a ring." It was news that stunned Ben Roethlisberger as well.
“I spoke to Vince about a week ago, maybe two,” Roethlisberger said after Thursday's practice. “We were both excited to come back. Then I saw [the news]. Shocked. I loved playing with Vince. What a great teammate and a hard worker, a guy that when the ball was in his area he was going to thud someone very hard. He had some big hits in that stadium. I’m going to miss playing with him both as a football player but as a person and a teammate.”
Mike Tomlin also didn't see Williams' retirement coming.
"No, I did not," Tomlin said on Thursday when asked if he anticipated Williams to retire. "But man, Vince is just a quality man first and quality football player second. Man, his passion for the game, the spirit in which he went about what he did. It's a loss for us for sure, but that's the game. We respect the game in that way. We wish him nothing but the best in terms of how he moves forward, but we're appreciative of the work and service that he gave us for eight-plus years."
In March, the Steelers released Williams as a cap casualty to save $4 million, but they re-signed the veteran linebacker a month later on a one-year, $1.075 million deal. Williams hinted at retirement in April when he told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that he was thinking about retirement after this season and has considered getting into coaching.
Williams also tweeted on July 14 that professional sports are "extremely stressful" and "mentally taxing." In addition to tweeting on the same day, "Playing a gladiator sport you trade your health for wealth (potential wealth)."
The pinned tweet on Williams’ Twitter account is: “I lost 3 million dollars, but I found Jesus and tbh Im perfectly fine with that.” The loss of $3 million is about Williams being released and re-signing on a cheaper deal. So with taking everything into consideration, it appears that Williams was fine with leaving the game and moving on with his life's work.
Williams was projected to backup starters Devin Bush and Robert Spillane this year, so the Steelers will now have to rely on either rookie Buddy Johnson, Marcus Allen and Ulysees Gilbert III becoming the go-to backup behind Bush and Spillane.