(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
According to Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt told him he was “50-50” and “going both ways” on whether he’d come back to play. Tuitt ultimately decided to retire and move on with his life's work, the announcement was made on Wednesday via a statement released by the team.
"With respect to the Steelers organization, my teammates, and coaches I would like to officially announce that I have come to the decision to retire from the NFL," Tuitt said in a statement. "I am thankful to have had the opportunity to represent the city of Pittsburgh for the past eight seasons, and am blessed to leave this game with my health. After the tragic loss of my brother Richard, and upon completing my degree from the University of Notre Dame, I know I am being called to move beyond the sport of football. I want to thank everyone for the love and support they have shown both on and off the field, and again want to thank The Rooney Family, Coach Tomlin, and the entire Pittsburgh organization. It was an honor and a privilege to play for this historic team. Go Steelers."
Some fans and even media members thought Tuitt should have let the Steelers know before the draft that he was going to retire, so they could plan accordingly. However, it was a sensitive situation, as Tuitt was dealing with a personal tragedy, as his brother, Richard Bartlett III, 23, was killed in a hit-and-run car accident last June. Tuitt missed the entire 2021 season with a knee injury, but bereavement was reportedly the main cause for being absent the whole year.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bartlett died after he was struck by a car while trying to secure a mattress and box spring to the top of a vehicle along McGinnis Ferry Road about 9:30 p.m. on June 2. The hit-and-run remains under investigation.
Tuitt and his family went through a tragedy, and people expected him to have football as his No. 1 priority in life? And criticize the Steelers for not drawing a line in the sand when he needed to make a decision? That's just not how the Steelers operate, and shouldn't. The Steelers handled the situation right and treated Tuitt like a human being and not just a number on the roster.
For the crowd that says Tuitt hurt the team financially and competitively. The Steelers will be fine, they make billions. They also drafted DeMarvin Leal in the third round. Tuitt's decision really shouldn't have affected them either way, as they needed a defensive lineman with Heyward and Tyson Alualu in their 30s.
According to overthecap.com, Stephon Tuitt made almost $56 million in eight seasons with the Steelers. Tuitt's only 29 and just graduated from Notre Dame. He also has three kids. Tuitt made the best decision for himself and his family. He doesn't owe anyone anything.
“I can't be selfish and just think, ‘Oh, I want Stephon Tuitt the player.’ I’m more concerned about Stephon Tuitt the person,” Heyward said. “He’s been called to do other things. We’re going to miss him, but it’s not a eulogy. That dude’s still going to be a part of my life and many other guys’ lives.”
Heyward said last week that he expected Tuitt to return, but obviously, that didn't come to fruition.
“I can't be mad at a guy for not wanting to come back,” Heyward said. “That’s just unfortunate. If I look like a liar, I don't give a damn. But I would’ve loved to have had him back.”
Fellow defensive lineman and close friend Tyson Alualu said Tuitt “sounds at peace” with everything.
"If he’s good, we’re good,” Alualu said.
And really, that's all that matters.