The Pouncey family have decided to hang up their NFL cleats for good.
Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, twins who played center for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers, respectively, have announced their simultaneous retirements from the NFL through Maurkice’s former teammate, Ramon Foster, on Twitter on Friday morning.
Foster played with Maurkice along the Steelers’ offensive line from 2010-2019 and had become a close friend of both twins over the years.
“It’s my honor that my brothers from another asked me to announce the next stage in their life. After over a decade @MaurkicePouncey and Mike Pouncey are RETIRING from the @nfl,” read Foster’s tweet.
The two Pounceys grew up in rough circumstances in Lakeland, Florida, but emerged as star athletes and earned scholarships to play offensive line side-by-side for the Florida Gators, winning the National Title together in 2009. After that triumph, Maurkice, who is one minute younger than Mike, was drafted 18th overall by the Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft. The next year, Mike was selected 15th overall by the Miami Dolphins.
Maurkice went onto a 10-year career with the Steelers that included nine Pro Bowls, five All-Pro selections, and one Super Bowl appearance, a losing effort that came in his rookie year. The Pittsburgh stalwart was also named to the 2010s NFL All-Decade team which gives him a great shot at making the Hall of Fame at some point down the line.
The elder Pouncey, Mike, didn’t enjoy quite the same level of success as his baby brother, but he did make four Pro Bowls, three during his tenure with the Dolphins from 2011-2017 and another in 2018 with the Chargers, with whom he spent the final three seasons of his career.
Unfortunately for Mike, injuries have kept him from making any on-field impact for the Chargers since that Pro Bowl year in 2018, with a season-ending neck injury ending his 2019 season after just five games and hip surgery keeping him on the sidelines for the entirety of the 2020 campaign.
Though they were two of the best centers in the NFL in their heydays, the twins have been going downhill a bit over these last two seasons, and with the injuries piling up and neither of their teams primed for a title run—the Steelers are a +2800 NFL odds long shot to win Super Bowl 56 on 888sports, and the Chargers are at +3300—retirement was likely the smartest option for both.
Since the Steelers’ embarrassing Wild Card loss to the Cleveland Browns—during which an erratic snap from Maurkice resulted in a defensive touchdown for the Browns on the very first play—Maurkice had apparently been intimating to teammates and close friends that he was considering retiring.
It had always been thought that Maurkice’s retirement would be intertwined with that of Steelers longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, with the two often vowing they’d go out together. The two had become extremely close over their decade exchanging snaps, and the emotional scenes of the two sitting on the bench together after that Wild Card loss were evidence of that.
“I love that guy,” Roethlisberger said after that soul-crushing Jan. 10th loss. “He is one of the best competitors and teammates I’ve ever had. It’s been so much fun to share a football field with him. I hate that it ended the way it did. I just wanted to apologize to him that I wanted to win it for him.”
While Roethlisberger’s situation with the Steelers for next season remains unclear, Maurkice’s retirement leaves behind about $6.5 million in dead cap for the Steelers, but also saves them $8 million in cap space during an offseason when that space is at a premium.
Foster’s tweet was also accompanied by several photos of the twins and a statement from each.
“We began this journey at 6 years old and now at 31 we will close this chapter of our lives as I announce my retirement from the @nfl and walk away from the game,” read Mike’s statement in part.
“I’ll always love the game of football & always will be the ultimate competitor in life @nfl @steelers ! I’m jus not in love with the sacrifice football carries on my life, my beautiful daughters Jayda, Marley & my family!
“As I write this farewell speech I cry & laugh that twin boys from Lakeland FL that grew up in poverty made it this far in life both living out NFL dreams,” reminisced Maurkice in his statement.