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Alejandro Villanueva: 'I have been in a media bubble almost the last year of my life'

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

A lot of people have been pointing the finger at the offensive line for the run game woes over the past several weeks. Talking heads like Booger McFarland called the Steelers' offensive line "soft" on Monday night. But all the negative opinions and jabs directed at the Steelers' offensive line isn't a concern for Alejandro Villanueva because he tunes everything out.

"I don't have any access to the internet," Villanueva told the media on Friday in a Zoom interview. "I have been in a media bubble almost the last year of my life."

Well, Villaneuva does have internet access, but he now has a flip phone to make calls and doesn't surf the internet.

"I do have access to the internet. I would rephrase it and say I got a flip phone this offseason," Villanueva said. "I felt that every time I was looking at my phone I was getting upset. I was thinking too much about what is going on in the world. I thought it was all in my head. Existentially, if you look at my life, nothing has changed. I still go to work, I still go fishing, I still have my friends.

"I started getting more disconnected from the world. I don't have time to track all of them. I am somewhere in between a 2020 millennial and an Amish person somewhere in Pennsylvania."

Villanueva is a perfectionist, and no matter how good of a game he might play, he'll always focus on the plays that he wasn't up to par.

"When I assess my play I always dwell on the negative plays, never anything positive," Villanueva said. "The only thing that matters to me is the next snap. Dwelling and bathing in this negativity before every snap and having a mental breakdown is somehow how I have learned to play football. I know a lot of tackles do the same thing. I am not going call them out by name. Shoutout to the mental sufferers out there. It's just the way you play."

Villanueva served three tours in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger after he graduated from West Point and he correlated playing offensive tackle to jumping out of airplanes.

"It reminds me a little bit of jumping out of airplanes in the Army," Villanueva said. "There is very little upside. The best thing that can happen when you jump out of an airplane is you survive. Everything else that can happen is all negative. Playing tackle is the same way. The best thing that can happen is nothing happens and everything after that is just a negative something of some sort."

Villanueva's offensive line counterpart and close friend, David DeCastro, had a gloomy interview with the media a few weeks ago as he was down about no fans being in the stands and just how odd the season has been with playing during a pandemic. Villanueva was asked about DeCastro's moroseness, and he said DeCastro is quite the philosopher.

“Dave is the greatest actor of all the players when it comes to revealing his personality,” Villanueva said. “Sometimes, when I’m driving with him every morning down 79, I feel like I got Friedrich Nietzsche himself sitting next to me. Some of his takes are going to be a little on the obscure side.

“For him to be down has nothing to do with his approach to the game or how he feels about football. He’s a very professional person. He loves to approach things from a very meticulous and analytical way, the way he sets, the way he plays; he plays the odds. He learned from (Mike Munchak). Munch played football like a card player. That’s how he approaches the game. I wouldn’t worry too much about Dave. But if you ask him if he thinks people are happy or sad, he’s always going to say people are sad.”

Villanueva was also asked about being in the last year of his contract and how this could be his last couple of games as a Steeler.

“This is the 16th or 17th city I’ve lived in in my life,” Villanueva said. “My whole life has been, ‘Where are we going to go dad? Where will we be living next year? For me, (becoming a free agent is) no different. It for sure makes you appreciate everything: your friendships, your teammates, the city of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania. It’s been some interesting years in my life. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but it’s not something I’m going to dwell on. I’ve lived in 17 other cities. I know I probably won’t live in Pittsburgh 10 years from now. It just makes you appreciate space and time and all the weird things we have going on in our lives.”

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