Inspiration for any writer can come from the most unexpected places. Thankfully that truth also applies to sports writers, especially when there is precious little actual sporting events taking place from wince we can draw some sort of inspiration.
Recently I was perusing through the archives of my past articles when I happened upon a previously unknown realization. There is a particular Steelers player that I have never felt inclined to write about, who just so happens to be one of the Steelers most accomplished and tenured players. This got me wondering, why not?
As a writer and avid football fan, I enjoy spotlighting those individuals who may have previously been overlooked or underappreciated. Usually these players are fringe roster types, many of the late round or undrafted variety, who seemingly are always playing on a one-year contract with little to no job security. They survive by knowing their role and excelling on special teams, doing the jobs nobody else is volunteering to do.
Everybody wants to feel appreciated, and I like nothing better than to give a hardworking overachiever some howbeit fleeting moment in the spotlight.
Maybe this is my excuse for having never written an article about Steelers right guard David DeCastro. Everybody knows about DeCastro, the five time Pro Bowler and three time All Pro. DeCastro is one of the best guards in the NFL, and in Steelers history. He has to take a back seat at the moment to Alan Faneca, but this could change if he stays on his present career trajectory.
DeCastro is as technically sound as any interior lineman in the league. This is how he excels at the position. DeCastro is not notably powerful or explosive. He understands leverage and utilizes his quick hands and feet to his full advantage. Now a thirty year old savvy veteran, he has honed his craft and knows the tricks of the trade.
With such an impressive list of accolades, I am forced to ask myself this difficult question. Why do I honestly feel indifferent about him as a player? It's not as if I don't like him as a player or as a person. I root for all the Steelers players and pray for their safety on the field. We all have our favorite players, guys who we relate to more than others and want to see be successful maybe a little more than others, but they are all part of the Steelers family.
So why does DeCastro seldom come to mind when I am contemplating past or future Steelers success, when I am racking my brain trying to contemplate new writing content? Maybe I am guilty of taking his sustained excellence for granted, and maybe it is because we know precious little about the man as a individual or as a personality, and what I do know seems tinged with negative undertones.
The disastrous missed block by DeCastro that destroyed Maurkice Pouncey's knee, causing him to miss the entire 2013 season, immediately comes to mind. Calling out teammates, and even Head Coach Mike Tomlin, for not being prepared and focused enough after some heartbreaking losses also appear in my personal recollections for some reason. I am not even questioning the accuracy of those assessments, because he has behind the scenes knowledge that no mere fan can attest. I can only wonder why those incidents are the only ones I seem to remember?
DeCastro is a man of few words. He would prefer to let his performance on the field speak for itself. I have no problem with his mindset, as I actually find it refreshing and admirable. They say the only time we fans actually notice the offensive linemen is when the refs throw the yellow flag and call a penalty on one of the hardworking grunts doing the lion's share of the work. They prefer to go unnoticed to the untrained eye. They work in the shadows as their high profile teammates bask in the spotlight, only truly appreciated by those aforementioned teammates and coaches.
Hopefully all-time Steelers greats like ‘Iron’ Mike Webster and Dermontti 'Dirt' Dawson knew the true value of their personal sacrifices didn't go unnoticed by their Steelers family and Steelers Nation.
It's not David Decastro's responsibility to make fans like me take notice of his remarkable contributions as a player, that's my job. Hopefully this article is a start.