Heyward: 'We're going to miss him'

On Wednesday, defensive end Stephon Tuitt announced his retirement after eight seasons, taking some people by surprise who thought he might come back after the trying times he has been through.

But if there is one thing Cameron Heyward wanted more than anything for Tuitt, it was for him to do what is best for himself and nothing more.

Heyward admitted he was a little surprised by the decision, but totally understands it.

"We had some talks and I was optimistic," said Heyward. "But he has to do what is best for him. I can't be selfish and say I want Stephon Tuitt to play. I am more concerned about Stephon Tuitt the person. He has been called to do other things. We're going to miss him. He is still going to be a part of my life and other guys lives."

Tuitt spent the 2021 season on the Reserve/Injured list and was also dealing with the loss of his brother, Robert, who was tragically killed in a hit-and-run last June. Tuitt cited the loss of his brother, among other things, as part of why he retired.

"He sounds at peace. We are happy for him," said veteran defensive end Tyson Alualu. "He came to a decision that is best for him and his family. You have to respect that. If he is good, we are good.

"When he called us and told us the news it was are you sure you want to do this. But I told him, if he is good, we are good. Just enjoy the time with his family."

The defensive line is a tight knit group, ones who have become extremely close to each other both on and off the field. So Tuitt's decision to retire is one that touches them.

"I think we can all agree what he has been through is not easy," said Heyward. "Every day it's a different battle. He thinks the best thing for him, and his family, is to go through retirement.

"I can't be mad at the guy for not coming back. It's just unfortunate. I would love to have him back.

"I've known Tuitt before he was even drafted. To see where he came from. To see the type of man, teammate he was. I was able to rely on him so much. We created a lot of havoc and had fun doing it. We got to watch our kids become friends, our wives are close. Those are the things I appreciate.

"All we can be there for is to support him."