Minkah Fitzpatrick was named to his second, First-Team All-Pro yesterday. And in doing so, made some history. Fitzpatrick is the first Steeler to make multiple, First-Team All-Pro teams before age 25.
No other Steeler has done it before. Not Joe Greene. Not Jack Ham. Not Troy Polamalu. Not Ernie Stautner. Just Fitzpatrick.
It is worth noting Jerome Bettis did it but his first All-Pro bid came with the Los Angeles Rams in 1993. He did it with Pittsburgh again in 1996. Ditto with Byron “Whizzer” White, who did it once with the Steelers and Detroit Lions before turning the big 2-5.
Fitzpatrick just turned 24 years old two months ago and is only in his third season. But he’s on a remarkable pace and level of play for anyone, especially someone as young as he is. He has nine interceptions in his two seasons with Pittsburgh. Over the last 30 years, Fitzpatrick is one of just six Steelers with at least nine picks over a two-year span.
Here’s the (slightly chaotic looking) leaderboard:
Rod Woodson – 12 (1992-1993, 1993-1994)
Darren Perry – 11 (1993-1994, 1994-1995)
Troy Polamalu – 10 (2008-2009, 2009-2010)
Chad Scott – 10 (2000-2001)
Darren Perry – 10 (1992-1993)
Darren Perry – 9 (1995-1996)
Troy Polamalu – 9 (2010-2011)
Dewayne Washington – 9 (1998-1999, 1999-2000)
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 9 (2019-2020)
But you don’t need the stats to realize how impressive Fitzpatrick has been. He provided splash plays to a Steelers’ defense starving for them. In 2017-2018, Pittsburgh had an impressive pass rush, registering 50+ sacks a season. The pass rush has remained strong but what’s elevated this defense is its ability to take the football away. It was a light switch that seemingly flipped the moment Fitzpatrick was acquired.
Fitzpatrick’s pair of All-Pro selections before 25 also puts him in uncommon NFL history. Fitzpatrick is the 64th player in history to make two of them before his age-25 season. That may sound like a lot but we’re talking about football since 1920, a massively long list. And Fitzpatrick is just the 64th. If you’re interested, here’s the entire list.
Over the last 20 years, he’s just the 13th player to accomplish it, joining names like Brian Urlacher, Adrian Peterson, and JJ Watt. Since the 1970 merger, he’s just the third DB with that on his resume, only repeated by Earl Thomas and Patrick Peterson.
Comb through football’s history and you’ll find it’s littered with Hall of Famers. From Cliff Battles to Jim Brown to Gene Upshaw and Lawrence Taylor, Fitzpatrick is part of elite company.
Put it this way. Excluding those not yet eligible for Canton, 66.7% – two-thirds – of players who’ve done what Fitzpatrick’s done have made the Hall of Fame. From 1970-2002, that number spikes to 83%.
Given the track he’s on, Fitzpatrick is setting himself up to be inducted someday. It’s still early in his career and plenty can change but he’s on strong of a path as possible right now. Quite literally, he’s doing something no Steeler has ever accomplished.