TikTok and JuJu Smith-Schuster have a love/hate relationship. The social media platform has certainly been good to him, as well as bad. It’s allowed him to engage with his fans and make many more, but it’s also lost him quite a few, whether fairly or not, and it hasn’t just been fans, either, as even other players around the league have had a thing or two to say about his pre-game TikTok dance rituals last season.
While we haven’t had to hear much about Smith-Schuster’s social media usage since at least the early offseason, one of his recent activities drew some attention, mostly over-the-top negative from what I’ve seen, as he participated in what is apparently a social media trend of people walking up and over a linear pyramid of milk crates.
I’ve learned since first hearing of this rather uninteresting phenomenon that it’s actually proven to be quite hazardous, with many people injuring themselves in the process while attempting to navigate the clearly unstable structures, but Smith-Schuster had spotters on either side of him to catch him if he fell while performing the stunt. And you already know what head coach Mike Tomlin’s public comment on the matter would be.
“I don’t spend a lot of time focusing on those things”, he said yesterday after practice when asked by Brooke Pryor of ESPN what message he delivers to his players on such matters. “I’ve you’re talking about those things and not football, you’re setting yourself up for failure. We’re a group that’s singularly professionally focused on what it is that we have to do, and guys have an individual responsibility as adults”.
In Smith-Schuster’s world, it’s just a silly, quick viral challenge he participated in and was done with. But it provided plenty of fodder for sports talk radio and the like, and obviously ended up being significant enough to make it to a Tomlin post-practice interview, and so now we’re talking about it.
I think it’s safe to say that all many fans want out of Smith-Schuster is first downs and to not have to hear about what he’s doing on social media if they don’t already follow him. It’s been rare that anything he’s done on social media has drawn positive headlines, though I suppose that is not a common occurrence generally.
I have no issue with Smith-Schuster doing the milk crate challenge in his own time while taking safety precautions in having people around him to catch him if he fell. My only concern, if I had to have one, was the potential for it to help influence some of his young fans to attempt to do it as well and risk injury.
But kids have been doing dangerous things for thousands of years, even if they didn’t always have Tide Pods to swallow, so if it’s not walking over milk crates, it’s something else. Still, I know I wouldn’t feel great if I heard a kid hurt himself because he tried to do something stupid he saw me do and he wanted to emulate me.