Polamalu has to start thinking of his future

A nerve impingement has caused Ravens safety Ed Reed to contemplate retirement in recent seasons. Now, you have to wonder whether concussions will cause Steelers safety Troy Polamalu to do the same, or at least cause him to alter his reckless style of play.

Polamalu, 30, is a physical player but he needs to be a smart one as well with this situation. These head injuries are starting to pile up, which is a disturbing trend when you hear about the effects on players later in life.

The latest one for Polamalu came Sunday night, when he left during the opening drive after taking a blow to the head and did not return. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that the 2010 NFL defensive player of the year was experiencing "concussion-like symptoms."

This is the second time in seven games that Polamalu has left a game with head trauma. Last time, he returned the next week. It will be interesting to see if he comes back as quickly this time.

Polamalu appeared to be lobbying his coaches to get back onto the field during the game. He stood on the sideline with his helmet on during the first quarter, and he still stayed suited up in the second quarter.

"We just wanted to err on the side of caution; that's why we didn't let him return to the game," Tomlin said after the game. "I don't know at this juncture if it was a concussion."

Polamalu's history of concussions has to be taken into account. According to published reports, Polamalu had at least three concussions while at USC and two while playing high school football.

Of course, the initial reaction is to figure out how Polamalu's absence would impact the Steelers. Pittsburgh has struggled without him, going 6-7 when Polamalu missed games in 2009 and 2010.

But, at some point, Polamalu has to consider the impact of these head injuries on his life after football.