Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner are two very young NFL players as both have played in the league just two seasons. Their youthfulness aside, both players already have an extreme level of popularity when it comes to the Steelers fan base and that can be easily seen when it comes to their officially licensed merchandise sales.
According to the top 50 NFL players sales report that was released by the NFL on Wednesday, Smith-Schuster and Conner are both on that list that only includes verified rankings of all officially licensed NFL player products and merchandise for the period of March 1, 2019 – May 31, 2019. Smith-Schuster is ranked 25th overall in the latest officially licensed NFL player products and merchandise rankings while Conner is listed at 47th overall.
Smith-Schuster’s popularity with fans is not surprising at all. Not only has he quickly become one of the NFL’s top wide receivers in just two seasons in the league, he has a very strong social media presence that includes several videos and pictures of him interacting with fans in various ways. From pillow and water balloon fights to accompanying high school students to their prom, Smith-Schuster knows how to stay in touch with fans of his. He’s already done several television commercials with more forthcoming. His creative touchdown celebrations, that mostly illustrate his youthfulness, are also very popular with fans. Smith-Schuster’s stellar play in his second season in the NFL resulted in him making his first Pro Bowl as an injury replacement. He was also voted the Steelers team MVP in 2018.
As for Conner, he was already popular with fans of Pittsburgh sports long before he was drafted by the Steelers as he was a high profile college player at the University of Pittsburgh. Conner’s battle and subsequent beating of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during his college years was documented quite extensively by both major and local media outlets. After a 2017 rookie season that included him only touching the football 32 times and gaining just 144 yards, Conner filled in admirably as the Steelers starting running back in 2018 after then-starter Le’Veon Bell decided to sit out the season in lieu of playing on the franchise tag. Conner went on to total nearly 1,500 yards from scrimmage in 2018 and scored 13 touchdowns. He also went to play in his first Pro Bowl last season just like Smith-Schuster.
Both Smith-Schuster and Conner are likely to get new contracts sometime next offseason as both will then be entering the final years of their rookie contracts. According to the CBA, the Steelers can begin negotiating contract extensions with both players as soon as the 2019 season has concluded.
The NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List is the only verified ranking of all officially licensed, NFL player-branded merchandise sold from online and traditional retail outlets as reported by over 70 NFLPA licensees such as Fanatics, Outerstuff, Nike, Fathead, FOCO, Wincraft and Funko. Licensed product categories include video games, trading cards, men’s, women’s and youth game jerseys, T-shirts and hoodies, backpacks, wall decals, pennants, collectible figurines, matted and framed photos, bobbleheads, plush, drinkware, pet products, and many more.