It’s been a TMZ sort of day—hell, let’s be honest, a TMZ sort of offseason—around Pittsburgh and around here, so why not keep the theme going? During their two years together with the Pittsburgh Steelers, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has never had a negative thing to say publicly about his former teammate, Antonio Brown, who forced a trade to the Oakland Raiders last month.
After the trade went through, Smith-Schuster took to Twitter to say “I’m ready”, meaning as the number one target in the Steelers’ offense, posting a picture of himself making an impressive touchdown catch on a high pass against…the Raiders. With Brown looking on in the background.
Late last month, he posted on Twitter again to back quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his leadership ability, saying, “I was so blessed to enter the league and play with a Hall of Fame QB as a 20-year old. Ben has taught me so much, he’s a true Leader and I can’t wait to rock with my guy this season”.
A subsequent Tweet by Brown was pretty much universally taken to be in direct response to Smith-Schuster, in which he said, “do not listen to any NFL player who haven’t got paid yet! They will do and say anything to make sure they going to get paid even if it’s compromising integrity or anything ! sad but true”.
So it’s fair to wonder what the relationship status between the two players is fair to question at the moment. There was even some controversy over whether or not they were still following each other on social media (personally, I don’t know what the result ended up being; and I also didn’t care).
TMZ managed to dog Smith-Schuster on his way to catch a plane recently, during which he clearly appeared as uninterested as possible in engaging with the reporter. It was very difficult to get any kind of answer out of him, but he was eventually asked about Brown.
He faintly said of Brown that he’s “my guy”, and when asked if everything was good between them, added “always, there’s no bad blood”.
Would he say it if there was bad blood? Probably not. Does it matter if there was? Probably not. They’re not teammates anymore, so it doesn’t really affect anything outside of possible dinner plans the two might have at some point.
Still, what I’m most interested in seeing is what Brown’s relationship with Pittsburgh and with the Steelers will be, say, a decade from now. The manner in which he split with the team is so unusual that it’s ‘hard to envision’ him being accepted back into the fraternity in the near future. And yet he was such a huge figure for the organization and even for the city.