It’s not often that the Pittsburgh Steelers allow for something ‘controversial’ to be posted on their site—or at least, their employed scribes are not likely to write anything that rocks the boat—but a short line in a piece from Bob Labriola recently drew some eyebrows.
Toward the end of his breakdown of the Steelers’ wide receiver position originally published on Sunday, Labriola heaped praise on rookie second-rounder Chase Claypool, who broke team rookie records and appears to be on the cusp of greatness.
Searching for a flipside, he wrote, “if there was a negative, it was that it seemed as though Claypool’s diva quotient increased consistently over the course of his rookie season. Whether that turns into a problem or comes to be viewed in the future as growing pains will develop over time”.
What was perhaps intended as a minor throwaway line drew quite a bit of attention once aggregated by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, something he’s made a career out of, naturally, but it’s something worth exploring all the same, and certainly not something that has gone unnoticed.
One thing to note about Claypool is that he is a confident young man. With regularity, he has mentioned when asked about how the adjustment to the NFL was relatively minor for him, perhaps even not as difficult as he was expecting—and really, on the field, there is evidence to support this.
He has made mention frequently of his social media presence and has cited JuJu Smith-Schuster as something of a mentor in this regard, specifically citing him in guidance on building his personal brand as a professional.
There is nothing wrong, of course, about an adult attempting to create opportunities for himself, to market himself and increase his profitability, and avenues of profit. But does he smack of ‘diva’ at any point along the line—a term with a definition that is the equivalent of a moving target?
One incident that I recall during the regular season was moment in a game late in the season. An opposing player had just made a reception on a short pass that failed to achieve a first down—or perhaps he’d dropped it. Claypool, near the play, nearly walked onto the field to mock him. Smith-Schuster was the one who pulled him back.
Was this an attitude problem? Over-excitement? Misplaced youthful energy and competitiveness? What about his remarks after the Steelers lost to the Cleveland Browns in which he remarked multiple times that they would get “clapped” in the next round?
Personally speaking, I’m not one who is quick to cast aspersions. I certainly expect the 22-year-old to mature as well. The label of ‘diva’ indicates a prelude to an issue, for me, so the question is, has Claypool done that reasonably possesses the predictive authority of indicating Claypool’s personality will develop into an issue for the Steelers?
That, of course, does not extend into the business end of the game. If he tries to make as much as he possibly can in free agency, he should, and he’s entitled to do so. That certainly don’t make him a diva. It makes him a shrewd businessman.
For his part, he has not much weighed in one way or another, and others have jumped in. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for example, responded to Florio’s Tweet-out of the article, saying, “hey Mike, pay attention. He’s right”. Claypool’s only interaction of the day was a quote tweet of a fan saying that Steelers Nation loves him, responding by saying, “love y’all !!”, accompanied by black and gold hearts.
Love y’all !! 💛🖤 https://t.co/LB6d71WMOT
— Chase Claypool (@ChaseClaypool) March 9, 2021
Diva or not, the young man has a bright future on and off the field ahead of him, with little in the way that could foreseeably derail him. Coming off a rookie season in which he caught 67 passes for 932 yards and 13 total touchdowns (including one postseason game), he will only get better in year two.