However, the All-Pro offensive lineman also issued a release of his own.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, DeCastro’s candid admission could lead to costly consequences. And with yet another player exposing a flaw with the league’s injury report system, it’s time for Roger Goodell to start cracking down on teams that don’t respect the rules.
Pittsburgh pulled a surprising move by releasing David DeCastro
The Steelers don’t have a great offensive line. In fact, they may not even have an average one. Given the rather uninspiring state of Ben Roethlisberger’s protection squad, it certainly qualified as shocking to see the team move on from the most decorated member of the projected starting five.
On Thursday, the Steelers officially severed ties with one of the best homegrown talents in franchise history by releasing DeCastro, who arrived as the No. 24 overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. A physical, intelligent lineman who anchored the right guard spot for nearly a decade, the Stanford product’s dominant play helped him earn six Pro Bowl berths in eight seasons with the Steelers.
However, DeCastro suffered some setbacks in recent years. The two-time first-team All-Pro missed two games in 2018 because of a fractured right hand. Although he played all 16 games the following year, he couldn’t accomplish the feat in back-to-back seasons. DeCastro only started 13 games in what turned out to be his final year with the Steelers.
As it turns out, though, the 31-year-old had a nagging injury that somehow didn’t become public knowledge.
The All-Pro guard’s candid comment could prove costly for the Steelers
Thanks to Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, we now know the details of what DeCastro dealt with last season. Apparently, though, the Steelers didn’t think they needed to share relevant information about their star guard’s health status.
“I have to get surgery on my ankle a third time,” DeCastro said via text. “I tried to fix it last year but the bone spurs kept coming back. It nagged me pretty bad all last year.”
By admitting the truth about his ankle, the free-agent guard has put Pittsburgh in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. According to The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly, the Steelers never listed DeCastro on their injury report because of an ankle issue. He only appeared on the list because of his knee, hand, abdomen, and a non-injury-related reason.
Combined with the fact they released DeCastro with a non-football injury designation, the Steelers don’t look great in this situation. He obviously dealt with the issue for quite a while, so it seems highly questionable that they didn’t report his ankle injury at any point during the 2020 season.
The NFL can punish teams for violating the league’s rules on injury reporting. And it wouldn’t be a first-time offense for Pittsburgh, either.
The Steelers got fined $75,000 during the 2019 season for not accurately listing Roethlisberger on their injury report before a Week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks. So if the league believes they failed to disclose DeCastro’s injury, the Steelers could face more financial penalties.
Plus, the fact the reigning Super Bowl MVP made a potentially costly admission of his own just a few weeks ago should give Goodell even more motivation to examine how the league enforces injury reporting.
DeCastro isn’t the only NFL star who potentially put his team in hot water by revealing injury information
DeCastro’s admission about his nagging ankle injury could put the Steelers in hot water with the NFL.
“It was an injury I dealt with really since last April, May,” Brady said during his June 9 virtual press conference. “I knew I would have to do something at the end of the year, and happy I did it. It was probably something that certainly needed to be done, and there was a great outcome, so I’m very happy about that. I feel I’ll be able to do some different things this year than I was able to do last year.”
The league has yet to take action against the Buccaneers. But between Brady and DeCastro, Goodell now has two players who’ve directly admitted to having an injury last season that did not get reported. For someone who talks so much about protecting the integrity of the game, it’s on the NFL commissioner to discipline teams for failing to follow the rules on reporting injuries. All 32 franchises need to operate under the same set of standards to maintain fair competition. Choosing to not disclose an injury shows a lack of respect for the system and whoever’s on the schedule that week, as coaches have to factor the projected availability of opposing players into their game plans.
Whether it means increasing fines, taking away draft picks, or having a better system of checks and balances, Goodell has to respond and put his foot down about potential violations of the league’s rules on reporting injuries.
After all, doesn’t player safety matter?