PITTSBURGH — From the moment he was drafted, it appeared as if Maurkice Pouncey was destined to become not only a stalwart of the Steelers, but an anchor of the offensive line. He was a star who seemed to step in effortlessly to fill a position held by two Steelers Hall of Famers for much of the past five decades.
Pouncey was 2010′s 18th overall pick out of the University of Florida, where he was a consensus All-American; the recipient of the Rimington Trophy, which is given to the country’s best center; and a member of the BCS National Championship team.
His rise to stardom began early. Pouncey earned the starting job at center after his first training camp. He offered consistency and dominance in 11 pro seasons, nine of which ended with a spot in the Pro Bowl.
Unfortunately, injuries were also a major part of his NFL story. In 2011, near the end of his rookie season, Pouncey injured his ankle in the AFC Championship Game and missed playing in Super Bowl XV.
In 2013, he was hurt on the first offensive drive of the first regular-season game, and ended up missing the remainder of the season.
Two years later, he was injured in the preseason and missed the entire regular season.
When he did play, however, Pouncey set the standard for both the Steelers and the NFL.
He held down the Steelers line for more than a decade, starting all 134 games he played. Pouncey also started eight playoff games.
Two years ago, in March of 2019, Pouncey signed a three-year contract for $33 million, making him the NFL’s highest-paid center.
After that, he had his share of difficult moments; a 2019 suspension for his part in the on-field brawl with the Browns, a 2020 COVID-19 diagnosis, and a 2021 botched snap that contributed to the playoff loss to the Browns.
In addition to his nine overall Pro Bowl appearances, Pouncey was named All-Pro five times (three first-team and two second- team selections). He was also named to the NFL 2010s All-Decade team.
His retirement will save the Steelers roughly $8 million toward to the salary cap.
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