Those who don’t follow Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster probably don’t realize that he has a pre-game ritual of posting social media videos of himself dancing at center field before games—regardless of where that field is, whether it’s at Heinz Field or somewhere else.
The Steelers are preparing for their seventh road game now, against the Cincinnati Bengals. And we also have at least our third incident of an opposing player taking issue with what Smith-Schuster is doing, regardless of whether or not they have the full understanding of his pattern.
The topic first gained attention after the Dallas Cowboys game, a situation that was different than others, because he admitted that he had intentions of mimicking Terrell Owens’ mid-game centerfield celebration after scoring a touchdown. Cowboys players saw him at midfield before the game, and wanted to make sure that he didn’t do that in-game.
He wasn’t going to do that last week, but apparently some Buffalo Bills players were still offended by the young wide receiver’s pre-game ritual that happened to take place in the middle of their home field. Safety Jordan Poyer claimed after the game that it made them play with more fire.
Especially since they ended up losing that game, it’s now become an ‘issue’, and Bengals safety Vonn Bell was asked about it. But before we proceed, I want to point out that he was asked about Smith-Schuster “doing a lot of dancing on other people’s logos”, so it was a loaded question in the first place, and I’m willing to bet neither the interview nor the player were aware that he also does this at home.
“I just think he’s still young-minded. He loves the game, he loves to go out there and play. But it’s kind of disrespectful at the end of the day”, Bell said. “They’re on top right now so you can’t really say nothing right now. You’ve got to go out there between the lines and go out there and hit him, and let him know where he stands”.
The money quote comes at the end, of course, but if you listen to his full answer—and especially if you listen to his full answer, rather than just read it—you don’t see any real hostility in Bell’s response. Sure, maybe it rubs somebody the wrong way, but nobody should be losing sleep over it.
As for himself, Smith-Schuster has already said that he has no intentions of changing who he is and that he will continue to do what he has been doing, even though he has received backlash from Steelers fans about it. A lot of people lamenting ‘poking the bear’ and providing ‘bulletin board material’.
But it’s not his fault that people misinterpret his intentions and don’t know that it’s something that he does before every game, with no indications at all that it’s meant disrespectfully. Unless Mike Tomlin or Art Rooney II ask him not to do it, people should just leave him alone, especially when speaking out of ignorance.