You know how the saying goes. “If you can’t be ‘em, join ‘em.”
Appearing Wednesday on the Varsity House Podcast with host Shaun Crawford, Steelers teammates Minkah Fitzpatrick, Chase Claypool, and Miles Boykin joined Crawford to talk about many different topics ranging from what it’s like to have Mike Tomlin as a head coach as well as what it’s like to play at Heinz Field with the Terrible Towels twirling and the iconic song Renegade being blasted on the loudspeakers in the fourth quarter of tightly contested games.
As for WR Miles Boykin who the Steelers acquired this offseason off waivers when the Ravens gave him his walking papers in April, he has always been on the opposite sideline in a jersey that isn’t black and gold. Boykin mentioned when he joined the Steelers that he initially thought the team was going to select him back in 2019, but once he became a Raven, he quickly learned to hate the Steelers as their archrival. Still, Boykin got to experience what it was like to be immersed in Steelers culture as the opposition as he pointed out when coming to Heinz Field as the visiting team, quickly learning the impact that the fans can have on the game when Renegade is cracked up.
Shortly after being asked by Crawford what role Boykin will have to have to make an impact on the Steelers heading into 2022, former Notre Dame teammate and current Steelers teammate Chase Claypool interjected when Boykin initially responded that he will have to make his mark on special teams to make the roster.
“I’m going to try and be right beside you and try and get one of them,” Claypool jumped in when Boykin said that he will have to run down on kickoffs to make a tackle.
Chase mentioning running down on kickoff with Boykin sparked a memory for Boykin back from 2020 where the two were pitted against each other in a special teams battle.
“I remember having a block Chase, man,” Boykin responded. “Was what’s your first game? You playing at Baltimore. I’m saying the first game that you played against Baltimore. Was it in Baltimore?”
“Yes. I think it was, yeah, it was,” Claypool confirmed.
“So, Chase is running down a kickoff and I’m trying to block him,” Boykin said starting the story. “But they kick, they did this stupid thing. The Steelers kicked the ball all the way across the field. So, I got to go Chase him all the way across the field. So, I get there, and I line up. Chase goes right behind me, just push me in the back. Didn’t even come close to making the tackle.”
Tough love from former Notre Dame teammates, huh?
While Claypool may have been in his inaugural season in the NFL with the Steelers, he knew better than to let previous ties from college get in the way of a Steelers-Ravens rivalry. The push in the back on Boykin may have been uncalled for, but Boykin managed to learn right away that he wasn’t going to get any sympathies from one of his buddies while wearing the other team’s jersey.
“That was always funny, man. I love competing against you. I love competing against you too,” Boykin continues, acknowledging both Claypool and Fitzpatrick as his former rivals. “Because you’re a hell of a player, man. Just the way they both, you know, command themselves out there on the field. Like there’s definitely players that you respect. I don’t like playing against y’all but, you definitely respect a lot of players man and how they play the game.”
Boykin may still be seeing Minkah Fitzpatrick across from him in practice during training camp this fall or may again get matched up with Claypool on opposing special teams’ units while the team is in Latrobe. However, Boykin has taken his matchups with both guys in the past and has used that to develop a respect for both and how they play the game. Luckily for Boykin, he no longer must play against them, but now will get to share the same sideline as them and don the same uniforms as them, having the backing of all Steelers Nation as well.
Hopefully, Miles Boykin can command the respect of his new teammates with his play on the field this fall, earning a roster spot and playing on the better side of the fierce division rivalry.