Controversy, whether reasonable or no, seems to have a way of attracting itself to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, they are largely a product of missteps along the way, either on a franchise or individual level, and generally, they have been avoidable.
Many have also been rather silly and insignificant. The latest was the phenomenon of fourth-year wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster using the social media platform TikTok to post videos of one of his pre-game rituals, which consists of dancing on the centerfield logo of the field he is preparing himself to play on before games.
A number of players, both on opposing teams and even on teams they hadn’t played, did express negative reactions to this, viewing it as a sign of disrespect, and he ultimately chose to stop doing it for the betterment of the team.
But perhaps another reason that he chose to stop doing it, which he didn’t initially come forward with, was because it was also creating problems with his family. Recently, his mother posted on Instagram that she had received “weeks of so many hate messages to death threats” in response to her son’s behavior—which she has always supported.
In fact, after the Steelers won on Sunday, with Smith-Schuster scoring the game-winning touchdown and clinching the AFC North, his parents celebrated by posting a video of themselves doing the dance that he had become known for. Smith-Schuster said that it’s an expression of who he is, and we see that through his mother. Right now, her Instagram stories are filled with videos of friends and family and fans dancing.
On Wednesday, Smith-Schuster was asked about the death threats, and his initial decision to continue dancing for his followers, and later reversing course. “There’s a lot of pros and cons. There’s a lot of good and bad that comes with it. My mom felt some of the bad that came with it”, he said.
“But at the end of the day, my mom’s being a mom, she feels it should never have to be like that, be that low”, he went on. “But yeah, this win definitely helped us, definitely lifted a lot of stress off my parents’ shoulders, and, you know, pretty much enjoying the dancing and all that”.
I’m not going to go on a rant here because I know those of you who are a regular part of the community would never be the type of people who would ever go out of their way to target a player’s mother and wish them harm. I think we can all agree that anybody doing this kind of thing is in the wrong.
I think we can also agree that we all hope this is the last time players are asked about the dancing, and thus the last time that we have to hear about it. And just in case anybody needs to hear this…please don’t ever send death threats to a player or their family, or really anybody else. Please don’t threaten people in general. It’s not cool.