The Pittsburgh Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster certainly knows how to market himself both on and off the field. That brand-building, however, has led to him becoming a very polarizing figure when it comes to fans of the team, as well as those who cover the NFL. Smith-Schuster is now one of the biggest and most well-known social media influencers in the NFL, and that has resulted in quite a few marketing opportunities for the young wide receiver and USC product.
Smith-Schuster said recently on “The Michael Irvin Podcast” that he constantly has fellow NFL players hitting him up and asking how he goes about marketing himself so well.
“I started TikTok, you know, TikTok’s always been a huge thing,” Smith-Schuster told Irvin. “I make a lot of money off marketing. I’ll probably say that I make over $2 million off marketing because of who I am, and that’s off-the-field stuff.”
During the 2020 season, Smith-Schuster received heavy criticism for his pre-game TikTok dance on logos of the opposing teams the Steelers were playing. Those dances really didn’t become a big issue until the Steelers started to lose after first compiling an 11-0 record. He told Irvin about how things transpired.
“They weren’t saying anything when I was dancing on the Cowboys’ logo and then I go ball out and score a touchdown, all that,” Smith-Schuster told Irvin. “Everyone is happy, and everyone is cool. But as soon as we lose and I dance on the logo, everyone is like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s the reason why they’re losing. He’s not focused.’ If I’m not focused, just go back and look at the stats. Go back and look at my catch radius. I’m doing everything I can for my team. If the coaches put me in a certain situation to make a play, I’m going to make a play. And that’s just how I am.”
Smith-Schuster then proceeded to tell Irvin how the media made his pregame TikTok dance a bigger deal than what it really was.
“The media, they try to find headlines and that’s how they make their money,” Smith-Schuster told Irvin. “But at the end of the day, I told coach [Mike] Tomlin I didn’t want to be a distraction for my team. At the end of the day, I got myself on an NFL Super Bowl commercial, making as much money as I can. It’s just about how people want to look at it. If the media wants to portray it one way – but my teammates know how I am and that I do right by the coaches and the team.”
Irvin then asked Smith-Schuster how his teammates felt about his TikTok logo-dancing, and the wide receiver responded by saying they didn’t have an issue with it, and that he received support from them.
“They were all supportive of it,” Smith-Schuster said of his teammates approving his pregame ritual. “Vinny [Vince Williams], Cam Heyward, they all said, ‘Keep dancing, that’s you bro. Don’t change for nobody.’ I would understand if I was dancing, dropping balls and dropping touchdowns and messing up my assignment, that would be a different story. But I’m dancing, having fun, doing my job, making my blocks, catching balls, scoring touchdowns, and living my best life. It’s a team thing, but I don’t want to be the head of attention in a bad way, so I had to do what was right.”
Smith-Schuster, who is a huge influencer in the online gaming community as well, appeared in a Verizon Super Bowl commercial with Samuel L. Jackson back in February that promoted a product designed for gamers.