Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said Thursday the Steelers need to limit off-field drama and distractions, comparing the team to a family of reality TV stars.
FILE PHOTO: Jan 26, 2019; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster reacts during PLAY 60 football clinic at Pro Bowl Community Day at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
“I think everyone just needs to stop being divas,” Smith-Schuster said on ESPN’s First Take. “I think we need to stop being the Kardashians and just play ball.”
The wideout wouldn’t offer names when asked about which teammates he might be referring to, saying only, “I’ve learned a lot in that locker room, and I know that I would never want to be a problem to any franchise.”
The Steelers battled numerous off-field distractions this season, including the year-long holdout of running back Le’Veon Bell and several issues with wide receiver Antonio Brown. Those culminated with Brown’s absence from the team during Week 17 and now could lead to his departure via trade, though Smith-Schuster said in a separate interview Wednesday he expects things to get sorted out and for Brown to return.
The term “Kardashians” is not a new one used to describe these Steelers. Tight end Jesse James said much the same thing in an interview with PennLive.com in December.
“Ah man, we are — Kardashians,” James said. “We have, I mean, we’re something. …We were in the front of the ticker on ESPN too much for just reasons that weren’t related to football and not for us playing great ball. It was more distractions.”
Smith-Schuster’s comments Thursday came from a discussion about how the Steelers can back on track, after they missed the playoffs and snapped a streak of four consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins.
“For me, personally, let’s focus on the main goal: win a Super Bowl,” Smith-Schuster said.
In his second season, Smith-Schuster finished with 111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns, garnering team MVP honors and reaching his first Pro Bowl.
—Field Level Media