By BOB LABRIOLA
When he looks back on his 10 full seasons in the NFL, Fernando Bryant will remember his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers as being short but fulfilling.
It was with the Steelers where Bryant signed in the midst of the 2008 season as insurance against a rash of injuries at cornerback, but it also was with the Steelers where Bryant won a Super Bowl ring. Bryant, 32, announced his retirement on Tuesday.
Originally a No. 1 pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1999, Bryant played in 112 NFL games in his career for three different teams. After his five seasons in Jacksonville, he signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Detroit Lions in 2004. Bryant finished his career with seven interceptions and 54 passes defensed.
He began the 2008 season with the New England Patriots but was released at the end of training camp, and then he came to the Steelers the week before their regular season game against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 16 because of injuries to Deshea Townsend and Bryant McFadden. Bryant played against the Chargers as an extra defensive back, and then again the following week against the Bengals. He career statistics for the Steelers amounted to three tackles.
"It was the first time in 15 years I wasn't around football during the season," said Bryant when he signed with the Steelers in November 2008. "It was an adjustment period for me. After 10 years you start looking at different things. If I got called this year I was going to be ready. If not I was starting the transition."
Bryant did not appear in any of the team's postseason games – he was inactive for each one – and maybe his decision to retire was spurred by the Steelers' signing of veteran cornerback Keiwan Ratliff this offseason. Whatever, it now seems Bryant has prepared himself for the transition to a life without football.