It's unclear what former Steelers QB Kordell Stewart means by "needing closure." The 39-year-old former player who last suited up in 2005 - for the Baltimore Ravens...as a punter - announced his retirement from the NFL Wednesday, a move that was unexpected, in the sense that everyone assumed Stewart had done that very thing several years ago.
Not to knock the guy too much - who knows, maybe he's coming out with a reality show in the near future and needed some promotion - but to put it mildly, he had been bumped to the mid pages several years back, much like Ron Burgundy's second place finish in a hot dog eating contest.
Stewart, a 2nd round draft pick in 1995 (the same draft that saw Ki-Jana Carter go No. 1 overall, and just one player, Colts QB Kerry Collins, play last season), parlayed athletic ability and poor field vision into a hefty contract extension in 1999, and quickly became the model example of a franchise that struggled mightily with valuing its players and paying them accordingly.
The Stewart contract had to be part of the reason director of football operations, Tom Donahoe, was removed from his position by 2000, and current Steelers general manager, Kevin Colbert ascended to that role.
Stewart managed to parlay a career completion percentage of 54.3 (488-of-898) into a five-year, $27 million contract in 1999, one year after the Steelers suffered their second consecutive losing season (two of only three the franchise has had since 1995). Three years later, Stewart was voted third on a list of the most overpaid NFL personnel (he was the most overpaid player, following Cincinnati's Mike Brown and Seattle's Mike Holmgren, an owner and a GM/coach).
Most wrote Stewart off for retirement or some variation thereof when he was finally released in 2003 in favor of Tommy Maddox, who spelled Stewart after a poor start to the year. Stewart found his way to Chicago, playing for the Bears for nine games, and managing 12 interceptions to seven touchdowns.
Very few, if any, Pittsburgh athletes bore as much criticism as Stewart did. In retrospect, he led the team to lows it wouldn't experience in the 12 years that followed. Many feel his best role was as a receiver, or a spot quarterback, two positions Stewart never felt inclined to play on a full-time basis.
The one reasonably average year he had as a passer, in 2001, led the Steelers to an AFC Championship game appearance at the newly opened Heinz Field, and Pro Bowl berth. The heavily-favored Steelers hosted upstart New England, and Stewart was 24-of-42 for 255 yards and three interceptions.
Rumor was, Stewart needed off-season surgery to remove his hands from his throat.
The fact he went out of his way to sign a one-day contract with the Steelers eight years after his playing days were over is on par with a 25-year-old putting on the pads for his high school team for one more play. It's reasonable to think maybe he is just hoping to shut some personal demons out and move on into the next phase of his life. In that case, we wish him the best.