I don’t know that there has been a better ambassador for the notion of the ‘Steelers Way’ and of how the Pittsburgh Steelers run their business since he was first acquired than third-year safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Even early on when they first brought him in via trade last year in the third week of the regular season, he was open with his observations of how they ran things, and he has shown great appreciation and respect for, for example, head coach Mike Tomlin and his discipline and level of knowledge about the game.
One thing that he has also embraced about the Steelers is the sense of collective and of a unity toward a larger goal that they all share, something that he spoke on when he addressed the media on Thursday. “I think there are no individuals”, he said. “That’s something I said last year when I first got here as well. There was not a lot of ego”.
Everybody knows how to put it to the side once they walk through the doors in the facility. Everybody has the same goal, to be the best possible defense as we can. Sometimes that takes sacrifices, that takes not doing everything that you’re capable of doing and just doing what the team needs you to do right now. Nobody really complains about it because it works. It’s easy to put your ego to the side when it’s working, not just for the overall team, but even for the individuals.
Originally drafted 11th overall by the Miami Dolphins in 2018, Fitzpatrick was put on the trading block early in his second season amid changes in the organization. There was a sense that the team was tanking the season, and many players, like himself, were reluctant to be a part of it.
He also felt that he was being put in positions that did not fully take advantage of his skill sets, and therefore was not allowing him to best contribute to the team. The Steelers have formalized his role, but have also allowed him to be moved around within the scheme, either before the snap or after the snap, and it has been effective.
Things like that take a collective identity, however. When one player is doing something that is out of the ordinary, the others have to account for that, and sometimes that takes sacrificing your own role for the sake of the overall success.
“The thing I appreciate most about this team is the selflessness and just how there’s not any individuals”, Fitzpatrick said. So far, that approach has gotten them to 9-0, and as he said, it’s easy to be selfless when it works out, so their success will only further emphasize that approach, and perhaps make it even stronger.