Playing inside empty stadiums at the start of the year was something of a novelty. An experience most players haven’t felt since their 7th grade, JV football days. For David DeCastro though, that novelty has worn off. And now that fans have been excluded from Heinz Field for probably the rest of the season, DeCastro is plainly stating how everyone feels.
DeCastro talked about the struggle of getting through the season under these unprecedented circumstances.
“The no fans thing sucks,” he said via Steelers.com. “It felt dead out there a little bit, you know, playing on a Wednesday night with no fans. At the beginning of the season, I think when there were no fans, it was an all new atmosphere. We can get through this. You still had that rush to the early season. And now, you’re in December with no fans. You’re like, what are we doing out here? I don’t like to make excuses because we’re professionals and stuff, but we’re still humans. We have emotions and not having the fans there is just, it’s tough.”
Wednesday’s game against Baltimore was played even under stranger parameters. It was only the NFL’s second Wednesday game since 1950, postponed three times because of the COVID outbreak in Baltimore’s locker room. Pittsburgh was left holding the bag, waiting for the league to clear the Ravens to play.
The Steelers then played one of their ugliest games of the year. Dropped passes, red zone failures, turnovers, and allowing big plays on defense, just barley coming away with a win over a depleted Ravens’ roster.
Worse, OLB Bud Dupree suffered a season-ending torn ACL, something that’ll impact the team and Dupree’s market heading into the offseason. All those factors makes it hard for DeCastro to find the holiday cheer. Credit to him for his honesty and candor.
“I think last week, the biggest thing was losing Bud. I think that was most deflating thing we had in that whole game. The game itself was, you kind of feel it going into the week. You change the game, you change the time and there’s all this leading up to it and they push it back again.”
Moving forward, hopefully the Steelers won’t have to play musical chairs with the rest of their schedule. But the “no fans” part is all but certain to stick. While the team hasn’t officially announced they won’t have fans for the remainder of the season, the initial press release only specified the Washington game, with COVID cases on the rise in PA and around the country, it’s unlikely anyone reverses course until next fall.