(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Last month, JuJu Smith-Schuster was on boxer Ryan Garcia's "Fierce Talk" podcast and he discussed his pregame TikTok that created some controversy this past season.
Starting in Week 9 against the Cowboys last year, Smith-Schuster started a pregame ritual where he danced on the opposing team's logo at the 50-yard line and then posted it on TikTok. It didn't become an issue until the Steelers lost to the Bills in Week 14. It was just their second loss of the season. Bills players after the game said they thought what Smith-Schuster did by dancing on their logo was disrespectful and it gave them extra motivation.
Smith-Schuster did it again the following week against the Bengals, and this time the media had the cameras on him before the game. It was becoming a bigger story than it needed to be. The Steelers got upset by the Bengals 27-17 and Smith-Schuster did not have a good game. Late in the first quarter, he took a big hit from Bengals' strong safety Vonn Bell that caused him to fumble the ball and Cincinnati recovered. The Bengals capitalized off the turnover and drove 38 yards down the field and scored a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead. Smith-Schuster had just three receptions for 15 yards in the loss to Cincinnati. Mike Tomlin met with Smith-Schuster a few days later and told him to stop doing the TikTok dance, as it was becoming too much of a distraction to the team.
"When I was dancing on logos and like doing TikTok dances bro everybody was like, 'Yo, that's the reason why you're losing.' No, we're not losing because of that, we're losing because we're ass," Smith-Schuster said. "Like we literally went 11-0, and before I was doing Tik Tok dances on the Dallas Cowboys logo going in doing it the whole time, doing the Corvette, Corvette and now everybody wants to blame me because we're losing. And me just doing that, people were like, 'Oh yeah, you're the reason why we are losing.' Nah, we're losing because we just suck. We lost some key players on both sides of the ball but at the end of the day we just got outcoached, outplayed and that's just facts. I'm just speaking facts.
"And the whole social media thing, bro. I'm going to post, I'm going to show my personality. Like that's what you're going to get, whether you like it or not."
Smith-Schuster was on “The Michael Irvin Podcast” recently and was asked about his TikTok dances and how his teammates felt about it.
"They were all supportive of it," Smith-Schuster said of his teammates approving his pregame ritual. "Vinny (Vince Williams), Cam Heyward, they all said, 'keep dancing, that's you bro. Don't change for nobody.' I would understand if I was dancing, dropping balls and dropping touchdowns and messing up my assignment, that would be a different story. But I'm dancing, having fun, doing my job, making my blocks, catching balls, scoring touchdowns and living my best life. It's a team thing, but I don't want to be the head of attention in a bad way so I had to do what was right."
Smith-Schuster said the media made his pregame TikTok dance a bigger deal than it needed to be.
"Media, they try to find headlines and that's how they make their money," Smith-Schuster said. "But at the end of the day, I told coach (Mike) Tomlin I didn't want to be a distraction for my team. At the end of the day I got myself on an NFL Super Bowl commercial and making as much money as I can. It's just about how people want to look at it. If the media wants to portray it one way, but my teammates know how I am and that I do right by the coaches and the team."