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Jerome Bettis compares Troy Polamalu's situation to the end of Hines Ward's time in Pittsburgh

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Bettis went out a Super Bowl champion. That wasn't the case for Hines Ward, and with Troy Polamalu appearing to be ending his time as a Steeler, Bettis sees similarities in his former teammates.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jerome Bettis's career was declared over in a celebrating locker room in Ford Field, minutes after hoisting the franchise's fifth Lombardi Trophy.

It wasn't the same for former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. His final game was a playoff loss at the Denver Broncos, followed by an offseason where he didn't appear to be in the team's plans. He would eventually announce his retirement, but only after he was released by the team.

Bettis spoke on ESPN Wednesday, noting he sees similarities between the end of Ward's career and what appears to be happening with Troy Polamalu's.

"This is nothing new, the Steelers asked Hines Ward the same thing," Bettis said. "They asked (Ward) to retire. He wanted to play. He looked out and didn't see many teams really looking at him. He decided to retire. I think this is a similar situation where they want him to retire because they don't want to cut him. They want him to go out with the grace that he deserves as a football player.

"The bottom line comes down to whether Troy wants to continue to play. That's when this becomes a really difficult situation. We haven't heard from Troy yet, but I would assume that Troy still wants to give it a go."

Reports surfaced Wednesday there were some in the Steelers' organization who feel Polamalu's time in Pittsburgh is over, and his pending $8.25 million cap hit for 2015 suggest strongly he's due for some kind of transaction. It may not even be a pay cut, it's more likely he'll be a post-June 1 release, considering the team would clear $6 million off their salary cap on June 2, and the dead money for Polamalu would hit the cap in digestible $2.25 million bites in 2015 and 2016 (per Over the Cap).