It’s difficult to make sweeping generalizations about how the entire league is when you only experience one organization. That’s why so many people take comments with a grain of salt when players talk about how great their team is, unless they’ve been around for a while.
When you’re a rookie, of course, your exposure is incredibly limited. Nevertheless, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Chase Claypool feels that his organization presents something relatively rare, if not unique, within the National Football League, based on the information that he received during the pre-draft process.
“I think it’s super cool how everyone looks out for everyone’ in the Steelers’ locker room”, he told reporters earlier this week. “Coming into the league, all my former teammates from Notre Dame who were in the league were like, the camaraderie is not the same. It’s a little cutthroat. But that’s not what I got from this team”.
Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that one of his closest college teammates was fellow wide receiver Miles Boykin, who was drafted in 2019 by the Baltimore Ravens. I’m not saying…I’m just saying. Ravens players do generally have good things to say about their experiences there, though.
For most of their existence, relationships have been at the core of the Steelers as an identity and as a central ingredient in what they believe makes them successful. The idea of having a strong locker room with veteran leadership is something that they place a great deal of importance in.
It’s fair to say that they feel confident that they have that right now, even including a few very select pieces that they have added from elsewhere on the outside. You have the homegrown guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, and Cameron Heyward, but you also have important presences like Joe Haden, and more recently, you have Eric Ebron.
No matter how they got here, these veterans value their role as leaders, and take the responsibility seriously. It’s easier when you are a part of an organization that is capable of competing for championships, giving you a sense of a larger purpose, to remind you that the success of others is your success as well.
“Joe Haden has taken me under his wing, just as an example of a vet”, Claypool told reporters. You might remember the comments that Haden made during training camp about the rookie. “I just think the brotherhood on this team is different than anyone in the league, and I can say that pretty confidently”.
As I alluded to in my lead paragraph, that’s a bit thick coming from a rookie with 11 weeks of NFL experience, plus an abbreviated training camp. But it’s clear that he entered the league with different expectations than what he found in Pittsburgh, and that is certainly welcome, for both sides.