Time With Teammates Over COVID Concerns for David DeCastro

Noah Strackbein

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers are one of five NFL teams that didn't have a player opt-out of the 2020 season. As the deadline came and went, Pittsburgh's roster remained intact, and they'll head into training camp with all 80 of their initial members of the team. 

All-Pro guard David DeCastro is one of the older members of the Steelers team. At 30-years-old with a family, DeCastro was considered a potential candidate for an opt-out consideration. 

When asked about whether or not he did consider it, DeCastro said no. On a Zoom call with media, the offensive lineman stated he's not ready to step away for a season when there's limited time left with some of his teammates.

"Yeah, it's tough the only thing that really comes to mind is, there's really no way to structure with the money and whatnot and uncertainty of the guys playing," DeCastro said. "That definitely weighs in your mind. You're taking a lot of risk going out there. You get hurt, and we don't get the full season. You don't get the full salary. That's probably the biggest thing I've thought about as far as the financial ramifications of playing and the chance of the season not playing out. You know, at the same time, I think a lot of the guys are just going to – I like having the routine of playing football. I don't know what I would do without it. Even though that thought crosses your mind, I think in reality, a lot of guys are just kind of going with the flow."

DeCastro said he isn't too worried about the COVID-19 virus. As the league took part in a virtual offseason, he didn't let the changed circumstances alter his football routine.

"My life hasn't changed too much with this whole thing happening in the offseason too," DeCastro said. "It's kind of, everything didn't vary too much. Even nowadays, I'll be honest, I'm not too afraid. That's just my personal opinion of it. I haven't really done anything to – I don't know really much what you can do if it's worth taking those risks to completely isolate yourself. To me, I don't really see that as beneficial. I'd rather be with my kids and family and take that risk. I haven't changed that at all."

Getting back into the groove hasn't been much of a challenge for DeCastro and the veterans. He doesn't believe not having preseason games will hurt the team much due to the experience of many players on the roster. 

For him, riding the wave he's been on for nine years is easier than stepping away. Especially when he knows the players around him have limited years left. 

"You have to be all in when you're playing football," said DeCastro. "Once you say you're done and you check out, you can't really come back. I've always had that mindset of just being all in. Football being No. 1, it's almost sort of a religious experience plus that gift for myself. I love the game. I always have. It's done so much for me. You can't really think about the money and whatnot when you're playing. You just have to be all about football, attacking that day and having that routine. It just makes life a lot easier. I'm not ready to be done quite yet. I'm getting there, but I still enjoy it, enjoy the routine and coming to work with these guys, [Maurkice] Pouncey and Al [Villanueva]. The group's kind of fading away. You guys always ask every year, "Do you guys appreciate what you've got on the o-line?" We really have. The light's coming at the end of the tunnel."

The Steelers have the NFL's second-old offensive line. They also have a 38-year-old quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. So, for now, DeCastro is living it day-by-day, staying on the field with his teammates as long as possible.

"We all know we are old," DeCastro said. "It might be Al's last year. Pouncey and I are getting old, too. Who knows what is going to happen? We are all just trying to enjoy the most we can."

 Noah Strackbein is a Publisher with AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.

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