“QUIT PICKING ON JUJU, FAT ASS! HE’S JUST LIVING HIS BEST LIFE, FAT ASS! HAVE ANOTHER CHEESEBURGER, FAT ASS! LIT, LIT, LITTY, FAT ASS!”
JuJu Smith-Schuster fanboys have several ways of defending their hero when he dances like a goof on social media. That’s one.
They can also be polite, yet condescending: “You just don’t understand the modern athlete.”
Oh, like Patrick Mahomes? I have yet to see him dance.
They also indulge the high science of “what about?”: “I’d rather have him dancing on TikTok than be arrested for drugs or guns.”
But it’s not one or the other. There’s a middle ground, and that middle ground is being a mature professional. More ball, less branding.
JuJu is 23. He’s in his fourth season. He was mostly invisible last year. If rookie Chase Claypool comes on strong, the Steelers’ receiving corps is deep enough that JuJu could get lost in the shuffle. JuJu’s only big year was reaped by being AB’s bobo. He showed in ’19 that he’s no No. 1.
JuJu needs to focus. He’s a free agent at season’s end. He’s playing for a contract. Any ancillary money reaped via influencing or social media is birthed via his football fame.
When asked about his role in the Steelers’ offense, JuJu said it was to make sure everybody has fun: “We’re always lit.”
Oddly, I couldn’t find “lit” on the depth chart. It’s not a statistic, either.(Neither is "fumbling away playoff spots." Lucky for JuJu.)
Pro football is a serious business. At least, it used to be. Imagine the reaction of Jack Lambert or Joe Greene upon seeing the video below: JuJu dancing in a onesie at the riverbank.
Yeah, I know: “QUIT YELLING AT CLOUDS, OLD MAN! THEY DIDN’T HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA THEN, OLD MAN! IT’S DIFFERENT NOW, OLD MAN!”
It is different. That doesn’t mean it’s better.
Move forward in the timeline. I’m not sure how Troy Polamalu or James Farrior would be crazy about JuJu’s antics. Heck, I wonder how Cam Heyward feels.
But JuJu won’t stop, or be asked to. That’s certain. Things are definitely different to that degree.Look at AB's shenanigans, and how long he did them. (But at least he was All-Pro.)
The good news is, this is JuJu’s last year in Pittsburgh. After that, JuJu can go dance like a goof somewhere else.
The Steelers see receivers as disposable, rarely signing them to second contracts. AB and Hines Ward are two recent exceptions, but JuJu couldn’t carry their jock in a hockey bag. The writing was put on the wall the minute Claypool got drafted this year.
JuJu may get big money, but it won’t be in Pittsburgh.
Heyward is also in the last year of his contract. He might also get big money, but it also won’t be in Pittsburgh.
Unlike JuJu, Heyward is not disposable. But, at 31, his clock for excellence is ticking. He made All-Pro last season, but how many more years last like that does he have left?
Heyward is a valuable component, not least in the locker room. But that won’t get him paid by the Steelers.
Anyway, check out this video: A grown man dancing in public while wearing pajamas. What a goof.
Thumbnail via Getty Images