It was announced yesterday that Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle David DeCastro withdrew from the 2019 Pro Bowl, citing injury for the reason that he would not be attending. I think it’s safe to say that he would be healthy enough to play in a game that mattered, so unless he is scheduled for some type of offseason surgery we don’t know about, we can probably assume this isn’t about health.
I also don’t think it has much of anything to do with the prestige of the game, either. The Steelers had full attendance last year in large part because the whole coaching staff was there, but DeCastro has spoken previously of the importance of the honor of making the Pro Bowl, and my sense is that the mere number of Pro Bowls he has been to has simply gotten tiresome.
Maurkice Pouncey, after all, was named to the Pro Bowl for the seventh time this season. This is DeCastro’s fourth. Ironically, the man who made the All-Pro list over him, Joel Bitonio, is his injury replacement for the Pro Bowl.
No, this isn’t about health, or about disappointment over a lost season, or about no longer respecting the prestige of the game. At least I don’t think that’s what it is. In my opinion, this is likely just his opportunity to avoid being asked questions about drama that he doesn’t want to have to deal with.
The primary source of that drama, Antonio Brown, already withdrew from the Pro Bowl, citing injuries, so he won’t even be there to field the questions himself. Not that you can blame him. Who would want to attend the Pro Bowl and be subjected to a media scrum after going AWOL and amid swirling trade rumors?
You will probably recall that DeCastro was perhaps the most vocal player in the locker room at the end of last season in expressing his displeasure with what seemed to be a new drama every week. He is a no-nonsense type of guy who just wants to go about his business.
That hasn’t been an easy thing to do in Pittsburgh over the past couple of years, even when they are winning games, because there is always some sort of off the field situation surrounding the team that the reporters are going to ask players about, especially when the players involved in the situation are not there to answer for themselves.
He knows that going to the Pro Bowl this year would just be more of the same—even worse, because the Steelers didn’t even reach the postseason. As far as well know, his offensive line teammates, Pouncey and Alejandro Villanueva, still plan on attending.
And again, you can’t blame him. And perhaps he is having some type of surgery—he did injure his thumb early in the year—but unless we actually hear about that being reported, I think this is the reason he’s opting out of the Pro Bowl this year.