As is par for the course at this time of year, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is flexing his business muscles, hitting the media circuit while promoting some new sponsorship with this or that product. His latest is an AI avatar product from Charmin for streamers, so they can still interact with fans while they’re pooping, apparently.
One of the many interviews that he has done over the course of the past couple of weeks was with Daniel Canova at Fox Sports. One of the topics that they covered was the matter of former teammate Antonio Brown, with whom he considered his relationship close while they were on the Steelers together, but which since eroded rather quickly.
“There’s nothing there that I can do,” he said of his personal relationship with Brown. “I know I’m blocked on all social media accounts and my phone number is blocked. But I’m not fiending for anything. I’m not fiending for closure. At the end of the day, we are grown men, we go our separate ways, and we live our lives.”
That was a bridge that Brown burned a couple of years ago when he took to social media to criticize Smith-Schuster for a variety of reasons, particularly while he was being promoted as Brown’s replacement after AB forced his way out of town.
The two as teammates had a remarkable season together in 2018, however, both making the Pro Bowl. Smith-Schuster caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. Brown caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns — in 15 games, after going AWOL ahead of Week 17.
It was a truly dynamic duo that only combusted because Brown combusted. Smith-Schuster was still going into just the third year of his rookie deal, and Brown was also under contract. They could have continued to play together for the past two years, and Smith-Schuster couldn’t help but reflect on what that could have been like.
“I think for the most part just being able to share the spotlight was probably the biggest thing,” he said about where their relationship soured. “If we could have done that, I think we would have been a very dominant duo. But it was something that he couldn’t do, and it is what it is. At the end of the day, life goes on and we move on from that, but I wish him the best. He won a Super Bowl, and that’s crazy.”
While Smith-Schuster draws a lot of negative attention to himself by some fans for his very active social media life and his focus on his ‘brand,’ one thing he certainly can’t be accused of is being a selfish player on the field. He has consistently been very supportive of his teammates and their success, particularly his fellow wide receivers in Diontae Johnson, James Washington, and Chase Claypool. He wasn’t tweeting out that Claypool is Washington’s replacement last year.