Fitzpatrick voted Steelers MVP

The Steelers have given out a team Most Valuable Player award every season since 1969.

Yet during that period, they had only had three safeties win the award. Friday, they added a fourth.

Minkah Fitzpatrick was voted the Steelers MVP by his teammates Friday, joining Glenn Edwards (1974), Donnie Shell (1980) and Troy Polamalu (2010) as the only safeties to win the award.

"It's an honor for sure that my teammates voted. I'm honored that my teammates see me as the MVP," Fitzpatrick said Friday at the UPMC-Rooney Sports Complex. "This has been nothing but a team effort. It hasn't been the season that we thought it would, but the great part about it is it doesn't really matter what happened in the past. Coach (Mike Tomlin) always says it doesn't matter what's happened in the past. History is like World War II. You learn from it, move forward from it. We can change the whole season by how we play this weekend, how we dominate this weekend."

The Steelers (8-8) still have an opportunity to make the playoffs Sunday if they defeat the Browns (7-9) in their regular season finale and both the Patriots and Dolphins do not win their respective games against the Bills and Jets.

Acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins in 2019, Fitzpatrick is tied for the NFL lead entering the final week of the regular season with six interceptions. If that holds up, he would be the first Steelers player to lead the NFL in interceptions since Mel Blount did so in 1975 with 11.

He's been a big reason why the Steelers enter Week 18 tied with the Patriots for the lead league in interceptions with 18.

"There have been a lot of opportunities for me to go and get the ball this year," Fitzpatrick said. "It definitely matters. We're doing something right. We're going and getting the ball. We're not dropping money, as we call it. We're out there with tight coverage. That means our d-line and linebackers are getting after the quarterback and putting pressure on him. I think what we've been seeing the past few weeks, getting turnovers, everybody has been playing full cylinders all around the football."

Fitzpatrick also has 94 tackles, 11 pass defenses and scored the Steelers' first touchdown of the season, picking off Cincinnati's Joe Burrow in the regular season opener and returning it 31 yards for a touchdown in a 23-20 overtime upset of the Bengals in Week 1.

Fitzpatrick also blocked an extra point at the end of regulation in that game to help the Steelers get into overtime.

But it's also been difficult at times. Fitzpatrick missed one game earlier this season with a knee injury and has played through that issue.

"I think I put a lot of hard work, energy and effort in," Fitzpatrick said. "I played through a lot this year. I'm appreciative the guys -- I don't like saying I -- but what I've provided to the team, what I gave of myself to the team."

In five seasons with the Steelers, Fitzpatrick has intercepted 17 passes in 60 career games, while also recording 310 tackles and scoring three defensive touchdowns. He also has four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

Fitzpatrick has been voted first-team All-Pro twice and is a three-time Pro Bowl player, including getting that honor this season. Fitzpatrick was not voted to the Pro Bowl or All-Pro last season, the only time in his four seasons with the Steelers he has not received those honors.

All-Pro voting will be announced at the conclusion of the regular season.

Outside linebacker T.J. Watt had won the team MVP award in each of the previous three seasons.

Steelers MVPs since 1969
1969 - Roy Jefferson, WR
1970 - Joe Greene, DT
1971 - Andy Russell, LB
1972 - Franco Harris, RB
1973 - Ron Shanklin, WR
1974 - Glen Edwards, S
1975 - Mel Blount, CB
1976 - Jack Lambert, LB
1977 - Terry Bradshaw, QB
1978 - Terry Bradshaw, QB
1979 - John Stallworth, WR
1980 - Donnie Shell, SS
1981 - Jack Lambert, LB
1982 - Dwayne Woodruff, CB
1983 - Gary Anderson, K
1984 - John Stallworth, WR
1985 - Louis Lipps, WR
1986 - Bryan Hinkle, LB
1987 - Mike Merriweather, LB
1988 - David Little, LB & Rod Woodson, CB
1989 - Louis Lipps, WR
1990 - Rod Woodson, CB
1991 - Greg Lloyd, LB
1992 - Barry Foster, RB
1993 - Rod Woodson, CB
1994 - Greg Lloyd, LB
1995 - Neil O'Donnell, QB
1996 - Jerome Bettis, RB
1997 - Jerome Bettis, RB
1998 - Levon Kirkland, LB
1999 - Levon Kirkland, LB
2000 - Jerome Bettis, RB
2001 - Kordell Stewart, QB
2002 - Joey Porter, LB & Hines Ward, WR
2003 - Hines Ward, WR
2004 - James Farrior, LB
2005 - Casey Hampton, NT & Hines Ward, WR
2006 - Willie Parker, RB
2007 - James Harrison, LB
2008 - James Harrison, LB
2009 - Ben Roethlisberger, QB
2010 - Troy Polamalu, S
2011 - Antonio Brown, WR
2012 - Heath Miller, TE
2013 - Antonio Brown, WR
2014 - Le'Veon Bell, RB
2015 - Antonio Brown, WR
2016 - Le'Veon Bell, RB
2017 - Antonio Brown, WR
2018 - JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR
2019 - T.J. Watt, LB
2020 - T.J. Watt, LB
2021 - T.J. Watt, LB
2022 - Minkah Fitzpatrick, S