Though not technically ‘part of the job’ itself, a basic fact of holding a job that takes place within the public sphere is that your work is going to face criticism, both justified and hyperbolic. Athletes playing at the top of their profession are among the most high-profile targets of criticism, which is frequently a mix of the fair and the foul.
But it’s hard to be a professional athlete these days and not be aware of it. To be frank, a lot of the players who are now coming up from college were probably once Twitter trolls telling players they’re ‘trash’ or whatever.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Chase Claypool is part of the younger generation of athletes, in just his second season, so he’s well aware of how things work at this point. But he admits the way his team has played makes it fair game.
When asked yesterday if he felt that the team deserved criticism, he said, “Definitely, I think, after a performance like that. That’s why I don’t think anything less or getting mad at the criticism. I think we all expect it, and we all—I wouldn’t say deserve, I don’t think anyone deserves to be spoken to the way we’re spoken to, but yeah, we deserve criticism”. The video of the interview is apparently not on the team’s site at this time.
I think the way that he phrased the last sentence is probably going to draw attention that it doesn’t need to, but I’m pretty sure the point he was just making was that they get a lot of worthless feedback in the vein of ‘you suck’ comments, and surely much worse, even personal attacks. Unfortunately these things do happen. But there will always be critics, no matter what you do.
“It doesn’t matter how good you played or how bad you played. There will always be people who will pick out something in the game”, he said, that “they can either take another perspective or they can make a talking point out of. You’ll always have criticism no matter what happens”.
Claypool did point out there are things that he needs to do better, and he mentioned drops. I’m guessing—also somewhat hoping—that he also considers some of the deep balls that he fails to come down with, which may not be technically labeled as drops, to be what he is calling drops. Because they’re the sorts of plays that he is expected to make.
It is undeniable that this is a team, especially right now, that is very much deserving of criticism. Does a lot of it get way too ridiculous, not just from fans, or from pundits, but from reporters and former players as well? Absolutely. At least, in my opinion.