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Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (sort of) beats Ed Reed to retirement

Troy Polamalu is not the player he once was, so his retirement late Thursday probably didn't force the reaction from Ravens fans it otherwise might have.

The career of the Pittsburgh Steelers safety limped to a quiet finish this past season, during which the eight-time Pro Bowl selection missed four games and did not intercept a pass for just the third time in his 12 years in the NFL.

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Fans in Baltimore and Pittsburgh long enjoyed arguing about whether Polamalu or the Ravens' Ed Reed was the best safety in the game.

Reed had 64 interceptions in 12 seasons (one split between the Houston Texans and New York Jets) while Polamalu had 32. Polamalu held a significant hair advantage.

The rest of the their statistics, however, are quite similar:

Tackles: Polamalu (581), Reed (531)

Sacks: Polamalu (12), Reed (6)

Forced fumbles: Polamalu (14), Reed (11)

Defensive touchdowns: Reed (9), Polamalu (5)

Defensive Player of the Year: Reed (1), Polamalu (1)

Pro Bowls: Reed (9), Polamalu (8)

Retirements: Polamalu (1), Reed (0)

That last category is important. Reed, who didn't play last season, hasn't said he's retired -- unless you count his apparent April Fool's Day prank on Twitter. In theory, he could pad some of those statistics.

But with Polamalu calling it a career, it's fun to think about what the selection process for the Pro Football Hall of Fame would be like with two of the era's best safeties debuting on the same ballot.

That can only happen if Reed retires this offseason.

Perhaps Hall of Fame vote totals could finally settle the argument between Ravens and Steelers fans.

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