Chase Claypool Again Defends Use Of TikToks: ‘It’s Not A Distraction’

Coming on the I AM ATHLETE Podcast as a guest on Monday, Pittsburgh Steelers WR Chase Claypool joined show hosts LeSean McCoy, Pacman Jones, and Brandon Marshall to talk about various topics including playing with Ben Roethlisberger, the death of Dwayne Haskins, the offseason, and more.

McCoy led off the segment with Claypool, which also is shown on the podcast’s YouTube channel, asking Claypool about TikTok and how he manages the balance of branding himself and making money off the field, but also being serious about the team and drawing attention to one’s self over the team.

“Going in the league, just like you said, it’s a different era,” Claypool started his response to McCoy. “And social media is a big part of our era. So, I got to build a platform for myself. It helps me off the field. No doubt about it that on the field should always override off the field in terms of marketing and all that, you know. The most important stuff on the field. But I was playing my best football when I was making TikToks. You Know what I’m saying?  So, people want to get on me and talk about my TikTok, but as soon as I stopped, we started losing.”

Claypool is referencing the backlash he faced during his rookie season in 2020 when Pittsburgh started dropping games after an 11-0 start, ultimately culminating in a 48-37 Wildcard Playoff loss at home to the hands of the division-rival Cleveland Browns. Claypool as well as then fellow Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster started to receive negative comments from fans during the losing streak, blaming their “lack of commitment” off the field to the results that were taking place on the field. Claypool ended up topping off the problem with a video posted live after the Browns loss, claiming the Browns are gonna get clapped next week. So, all good.”

Since then, Claypool suggests that he has put more control on the amount of TikToks he actively posts. In which case, Claypool has a point the Steelers, as well as himself personally, haven’t played as well since he stopped miking TikToks. He went from starting five games in 2020 to 13 games in 2021, and while his targets, receptions, and receiving yards were all similar, his TDs dropped from 11 total during the regular season (two more in the playoff loss) to only two in 2021.

Claypool addressed the issue earlier in the offseason last year when appearing on the 4th and Forever Podcast with Mark Sanchez, stating that everyone was a fan of the short videos and celebrations while they were riding an 11-game winning streak, but turned on him and the TikToks when the team started to lose, looking for something to blame.

“When we were 11-0, everyone on TikTok loves it, everyone on Twitter loves it. Everyone just loves the TikToks, and they love seeing the behind-the-scenes stuff. And that’s really why we do it, is for the people who do love seeing those videos. As soon as you start losing, everyone’s gonna try to find an excuse to why you’re losing. But a 30-second TikTok video is not the reason why we’re losing games.”

Now a year later, Claypool brings up the same point on I AM ATHLETE. After Pacman suggests that the fault should have been on Big Ben and his play down the stretch rather than the backlash Claypool and JuJu took for their TikTok videos, Claypool made no bones about defending himself and his stance like he did a year ago on 4th and Forever.

The thing that’s frustrating is we’re doing TikToks the whole season, 11-0 and you ain’t hear nothing about it,” Claypool responds to Pacman Jones. “Like, oh, keep ’em coming. We love these TikToks. Keep ’em coming. We lose a game. Now it’s off. It’s the TikTok.”

This is almost verbatim the exact same answer Claypool gave Sanchez a year earlier on his podcast. Right, wrong, or otherwise, Claypool’s stance on his TikToks impacting the team and their ability to win on the field seems to be unchanged. While the attention that these TikToks can bring to the team can be a distraction if not handled correctly, Claypool follows with an interesting comment regarding the public’s perception of these videos like he mentioned prior to Sanchez.

“So exactly perception, right? It’s not a distraction,” Claypool continued. “If I did 10 TikToks a week, you know, I probably posted three TikToks in last like year, but it’s perceived as a distraction. It isn’t a distraction. Let me tell you, like in the locker room, there’ll be people hopping in, ‘oh, let’s make this, let’s do this’. It’s not distraction. We’re just having a good time. We humans too. It’s just perceived as a distraction. So, if I make a TikTok, it’s not a distraction, but if we go and lose that game, that TikTok is part of the reason why we lost. You know what I’m saying? Doesn’t make sense, right?”

Claypool paints himself as the villain here, stating to the guys on the show that they could say or do the exact same thing, but people’s perception of their acts will directly fall on what they perceive of you. Hence, the perception of Claypool has become negative because of his usage of TikToks and the fans looking for something/someone to blame for losing and look to his usage of social media as that source.

In a way, I understand where Claypool is coming from as the media does tend to highlight players’ negatives more than their positives because that is what “sells”. According to him, the TikToks were not an issue in the locker room. We have seen many videos with Claypool’s teammates jumping into the fun, included HC Mike Tomlin on a few instances. Tomlin addressed the issue back in 2020 when JuJu Smith-Schuster was dancing on team logos prior to the start of games, saying briefly that he didn’t think any of those antics were motivating factors during the actual game.

Still, as Claypool mentioned earlier, it’s all about perception. Sure, he could be right in saying that a negative perception has been created about him and JuJu Smith-Schuster due to their use of TikToks, but he shouldn’t keep feeding the fire on the outside. I am all for athlete capitalizing on their platforms to make money outside of football and promote the things they care about in life. I do similar things with my own fitness account on social media which has in-turn led to sales and multiple long-term clients.

Still, instead of painting himself as the villain because of his use of TikTok, Claypool may be better off admitting that there is a time and place for these videos, and that he will use his best judgment going forward to still have fun with his teammates, but also do what is best for his own development as a player as well as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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