Updated: Dec 24, 2020
(Screenshot from @SNFonNBC on Twitter)
JuJu Smith-Schuster had a pregame ritual since the game against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9 of dancing on the opposing team's logo and posting it on TikTok. However, when the Steelers lost to Buffalo on Dec. 13, Bills' players said after the game that they were motivated by Smith-Schuster's pregame antics.
The Smith-Schuster pregame TikTok dance started to then become a big story. The 24-year-old was still going to be his authentic self, as he stated to the media last week, regardless of what the outside public thought of his pregame dance.
After dancing on the Bengals' logo before the game against Cincinnati on Monday night, and proceeding to get lit up by strong safety Vonn Bell in the first quarter that caused Smith-Schuster to turn the ball over via a fumble, and the Steeles ultimately getting upset in a 27-17 loss to the formally 2-10-1 Bengals, Smith-Schuster has called it quits on his pregame ritual.
"For me, honestly, I was dancing when we were undefeated, I was dancing when we lost our three games. I'm not gonna change the person that I am," Smith-Schuster told the media in a Zoom interview on Wednesday. "It's getting to the point where my teammates are being asked this question, my coaches. I saw it more, no disrespect, just for my fans. I am big on social media, the positive. Doing stuff like that you get the positive and the negative. For the betterment of myself and my teammates, I'm going to stop dancing on the logos. I don't want to be a distraction to anybody. If it's getting to the point where you are asking my teammates and coaches, there is no point."
So, there's that. A pretty overblown story is now over. Mike Tomlin said yesterday that he would talk to Smith-Schuster about his pregame dance, and it appears that he told him to cut it out.
"I am aware of it," Tomlin said when asked if he knew about Smith-Schuster's pregame stunt. "And I do plan to talk to JuJu. But we're professionals. I doubt any of those antics and things of that nature are legitimate motivating factors as you step into professional stadiums. It's about respect."
Last week before the Steelers-Bengals game, Bell said he thought Smith-Schuster dancing on the opposing team's logo was ill-mannered.
"It's kind of disrespectful at the end of the day," Bell said. "But they're on top right now so you can't really say nothing right now. We just gotta go out there, between the lines, go out there and hit him and let him know where he stands."
Bell had the last laugh though as he delivered a big hit on Smith-Schuster that caused a fumble, and the Bengals got the win over the Steelers in one of the biggest upsets of the year.
"I seen 19," Bell said, smiling as he explained the crushing hit he put on Smith-Schuster. "We had a call that freed me up, reading Ben's eyes and just saying, 'Man, go make a play.' We were talking about it on the sideline. It just happened."
Hopefully, now this tiresome story will just go away. As the Steelers have bigger issues to figure out after losing three straight games and having upcoming games against the 10-4 Indianapolis Colts and 10-4 Clevland Browns to close out the regular season, along with a playoff game in the wild-card round.
Smith-Schuster's pregame TikTok dance is the least of their problems, as their play on the field has been horrendous over the past couple of weeks.