And so it ends. A year ago JuJu Smith-Schuster shocked everyone by returning to the Steelers. Alas, history will not repeat itself, as he agreed to a one year 10.5 million dollar contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is certainly taking the high road on his way out of Pittsburgh, posting on Twitter:
Thank you, Steelers Nation!! I Love You! 💛🖤 pic.twitter.com/o5xN8fgc9C
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) March 18, 2022
To that we can only say, “Thank you JuJu.”
JuJu Smith-Schuster joined the Pittsburgh Steelers via the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Wide Receivers are a curious breed. There’s no question that the league’s popularity has grown hand-in-hand with the explosion of the passing game.
- And wide receivers are usually the ones catching the passes on those highlight clips.
While that’s a good thing, receivers perhaps more than any other player have Diva tendencies. That is what it is, unless it interferes with the game.
- With JuJu Smith-Schuster, that was never an issue.
Yes, spare me the TikiToi video controversy. As Mike Tomlin would say, it was nothing more than “Pop Corn.” It might have generated some social media tension, but it never got in the way of the JuJu’s game.
And when it came to the way he play the game, JuJu Smith-Schuster was a Steeler from day one. He was a Steelers wide receiver in the mold of Hines Ward and, although he lacks their level of talent, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.
That’s because JuJu always a physical, put the team first, make the play necessary to win wide receiver.
Think of his first big play with the Steelers. You know, the one that set up the Jesse James play. (Alas, thanks to Roger Goodell’s YouTube police, you can’t watch the video here):
That was a simple crossing route, one designed to give the Steelers some positive yards, get out of bounds and stop the clock. JuJu could have done that easily, but instead took the ball 69 yards and flipped the field.
And if you’ll remember, Antonio Brown wasn’t drawing double coverage because he’d left the game injured.
It took talent for JuJu to make these plays, but what they really reveal is something you touch but you can’t measure – his heart. JuJu Smith-Schuster left it all on the field for the Steelers.
There’s a reason why he led the Steelers wide outs in catch percentage during the offensive slogs that were the 2019 and 2020 seasons. On the play that he got injured on in 2021, JuJu Smith-Schuster was running the ball, at full speed.
- Perhaps it is fitting that JuJu Smith-Schuster is landing in Kansas City.
During the week before the playoff game against the Chiefs, JuJu Smith-Schuster surprised everyone by showing up for practice. This wasn’t a work. He intended on playing and he suited up and played.
- Never mind that he was exposing himself to further injury, and thereby risking millions on the free agent market.
JuJu Smith-Schuster wanted to play because he wanted to win.
Thank you JuJu Smith-Schuster for your time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Best of luck to you – except when you’re playing the Black and Gold.