I think it’s fair to say that there have been some mixed opinions in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room over the course of the past few season as it concerns the ‘drama’ that they have watched unfold during that time. Some have thought nothing of it, while others, like David DeCastro, have not been afraid to say, in so many words, that this isn’t what they signed up for.
DeCastro, a first-round pick out of Stanford in 2012, is about as no-nonsense as they come on the Steelers’ roster. While he has gradually revealed his personality and even his humor over the course of his career as he has grown into himself, he still has a very business-like attitude when it comes to many things.
And he has been critical many times over the years. He has taken the entire team to task before when he felt like they didn’t take an opponent seriously enough, especially in the playoff loss in 2017. He has made comments regarding the situations of certain former players. Anything that distracts from doing his job, he could do without.
So he has found himself pretty energized since returning from paternity leave at the start of minicamp to find a new atmosphere in the building. “I think things have changed pretty well around here”, he told reporters yesterday. “Just coming back and seeing it and talking to people, I’m excited, I really am, just to play football”.
Asked why he felt that way, he said, “I think everyone’s on the same page, more team-oriented. I guess that’s the biggest step”. On the team’s development in that environment, DeCastro continued, “I’m excited to see it. It’s still early, offseason is what it is. I’m excited to get the pads on in training camp and get back to football. I think it’s been obviously a weird offseason with a lot of things and it’s, hopefully, just worry about football now”.
These comments are not unlike those made by Alejandro Villanueva, and even Ramon Foster. They have all alluded to a positive cultural change this offseason, and it doesn’t take much reading between the lines to understand what it is that they are talking about.
While many players put a positive public face on everything, there was always a subset of players in the locker room who were not okay about the frequent distractions that the team presented itself with, and those distractions were frequently driven by the same protagonists time and time again.
A couple of those protagonists are no longer with the team, so players like DeCastro are feeling better about the environment in which they will work. Is that going to translate onto the field in any way? That remains to be seen, but drama didn’t stop them from going 13-3 in 2017, and it didn’t make them lose four out of their last six games last year either.