During a time of year when people are exchanging gifts, several Steelers players received a holiday treat when they were voted to the 2020 Pro Bowl.
Five players were selected, including David DeCastro, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cameron Heyward, Maurkice Pouncey and T.J. Watt. All but DeCastro have been selected as starters.
This is the 19th straight season the Steelers are sending multiple players to the Pro Bowl, and the 28th time in the last 31 seasons. It's the fourth straight Pro Bowl the team has had at least five players selected.
A look at the Steelers Pro Bowl selections.
Take a look at the Steelers players that were selected for the 2020 Pro Bowl in Orlando, FL
David DeCastro - Guard
Maurkice Pouncey - Center
It's something you hear all of the time, that it all starts up front for the offense. And that is why it comes as no surprise the Steelers have at least one offensive lineman headed to the Pro Bowl for the sixth straight year and nine out of the last 10 years.
Guard David DeCastro was voted to his fourth Pro Bowl and center Maurkice Pouncey was voted to his eighth Pro Bowl.
DeCastro is a steadying force on the line, someone who quietly gets the job done each and every week.
"He will tell you the Pro Bowl is not something you should strive for," said Villanueva. "He is a person who is very private, extremely professional, and has an intimate relationship with the game of football. He does not care about what anybody else says about his game except himself. That drives him to push himself to the point where it's almost a balance between self-hate and drive. The reason it's been so good for me to learn from Dave is because it's a magic, a way of looking at the game that always keeps you honest and humble and makes you understand the context of everything you do, which is something that is getting rarer and rarer in the NFL as players develop social media and things become popularity rather than just the game of football."
Their teammates know what they bring to the line, but also as a whole to the team, both on the field and off the field.
"It's not just the games. Everyone knows what he is like as a player," said David DeCastro on Pouncey. "He dominates. He expects that from himself. Since he has come into the league, he has been that level of player. I don't think it surprises anyone. Just being around the building, the locker room, on the field, not the playing part, it's just that attitude.
"He is like the rising tide that lifts all the ships. I think he brings everyone up. I firmly believe in that. He is more than just a good, individual player. That is something I will always remember in my mind."
Minkah Fitzpatrick - Safety
When the Steelers traded away their No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft for Minkah Fitzpatrick earlier this year, they were hoping they found an impact player.
They found a whole lot more. They found a Pro Bowl player who will be a staple in the defense for years to come.
Fitzpatrick leads the Steelers with five interceptions, has a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries - tied for sixth in the NFL. He has 48 tackles, nine pass defenses, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit. He is tied for third in the AFC and NFL with his five interceptions,
Fitzpatrick recorded defensive touchdowns in back-to-back games. He had a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Colts and the following week picked up a fumble against the Rams and it took it in for a 43-yard score.
"He's a ball hawk," said Bud Dupree. "He just finds the ball. It's crazy to see him make plays on the ball all the time, not one time but every game. Every single game Minkah is making big plays on the back end."
Fitzpatrick picked up the Steelers defense almost immediately, having an impact right from the start.
"I was really impressed by his ability to learn and learn in a short period of time and to absorb the number of snaps he was able to absorb," said Coach Mike Tomlin after Fitzpatrick made his first appearance on the field in black and gold.
Familiarity is a big thing in the NFL and that was a huge factor in the Steelers pulling the trigger on the Fitzpatrick trade. Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert spent a lot of time studying him when he came out for the 2018 NFL Draft because safety was the key position they were looking at. The Steelers had the 28th overall pick in the draft, where they selected Terrell Edmunds, and Fitzpatrick went 11th overall to the Miami Dolphins.
"We really studied Minkah closely in the process leading up to the draft," said Tomlin. "It was no secret that we were in the market for a high-end safety, in fact we ended up drafting Edmunds later in the round. We did our due diligence, we looked at Minkah. We knew it was somewhat of a pipe dream because of his global position in the draft. Having gone down there for both Alabama pro days, interviewed him, spent time with him, it really made this process a clean process for Kevin and I in terms of decision making because we had spent that time with him, we did evaluate him and we did have a great deal of comfort in his abilities.
"He is still very much a young guy. It's exciting from our perspective."
Cam Heyward - Defensive Tackle
If you want to know who the stabilizing force for the Steelers defense is, you don't have to look any further than Cam Heyward.
He has been a rock for the defense throughout his career, and that has never been on display more than this year when he was part of the glue that kept the team together during a tough start to the season.
It's not just his leadership, though, that has him being a Pro Bowl selection for the second year in a row. It's his dominating play.
Heyward has 72 tackles, eight sacks - tied for 11th in the AFC - five pass defenses, 19 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for a loss, as well as a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
"He is our captain. He is the best at what he does," said nose tackle Javon Hargrave. "He is dominating the league. He has been dominating for the last five years, ever since I got here. He is just playing at a high level. He just shows you how to practice, what he does. He beats his players easily in a game. I don't know how he does it. He is just that good.
"Just to have a guy like that, a veteran leader who shows some of us younger guys the right way to do things in this football world. He dominates what he does. He takes care of his body, does the right thing. Me coming from a smaller school he is one of the people who taught me the right way to live my life and go about football."
T.J. Watt - Outside linebacker
Not only did T.J. Watt have a Pro Bowl season, but in the eyes of many he should be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
"He is having an amazing season. A defensive player of the year season," said fellow outside linebacker Bud Dupree. "Hopefully he gets that award at the end of the year. It would be great for him and the whole unit.
"He works hard every day, makes corrections, studies, he is an all-around player. He is about football all day. That is all he talks about, football and competitive stuff. He goes about his business and makes sure he is getting better each time he is out there. He never wants to make mistakes, never wants to not play well, and wants to play at an elite level and shows up all of the time."
This is the first time Watt was voted to the Pro Bowl, although he was added to the Pro Bowl roster last year.
Watt is on pace to break the Steelers single season sack record, currently sitting at 13 sacks, just three shy of tying James Harrison's record of 16 sacks set in 2008, and three and a half away from breaking it with two games left. His 13 sacks have him sitting in first place in the AFC in sacks, fifth overall in the NFL, while he is first in the AFC with six forced fumbles and 31 quarterback hits.
Watt got a big jump on closing in on the sack record over the last month, and that's part of why he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November.
During the stretch Watt recorded six and a half sacks, 16 tackles, 11 solo stops, nine quarterback hits and forced two fumbles.
For the season Watt has 45 tackles through 14 games, a team high 31 quarterback hits, 14 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, seven pass defenses, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
"He better get Defensive Player of the Year," said Cam Heyward.
The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.