Chiefs’ JuJu Smith-Schuster Dragged for His Goodbye to Steelers Fans

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Joe Sargent/Getty Images JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a 20-yard touchdown reception against the Cleveland Browns on December 31, 2017.

You may have heard that former Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was back in Pittsburgh on Sunday June 12 for an autograph signing, an event that took place at the Terminal in the Strip District.

According to Paula Reed Ward of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the charity function — which she characterized as an “event to say goodbye to Pittsburgh fans” — was scheduled before Smith-Schuster signed a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency.

“It was kind of like moving too fast,” Smith-Schuster told Ward, before explaining why he wanted to do go forward with the event. “I really didn’t have a goodbye to all my fans and all my supporters.”

Indeed, hundreds upon hundreds of fans turned up to get Smith-Schuster’s autograph and take a picture (or make a TikTok) with him. According to Ward, the former USC product spent well over five hours signing merchandise in exchange for a $20 donation, with proceeds going to a selection of local charities, including Paws Across Pittsburgh, The Miracle League, and Magee-Womens Research Institute.

“Smith-Schuster canceled the flight he had later Sunday so he could greet every person in line,” wrote Ward.

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Mark Madden: ‘What a Terrific Kid! PS – What’s He Charging?’

But not every member of the Pittsburgh media painted the event in such a positive light.

After Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette highlighted Smith-Schuster’s “going-away event” on Twitter, Mark Madden of 105.9 The X (and also a sports columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review), was quick with the sarcastic reply:

“What a terrific kid! PS – What’s he charging?”

Madden went on to reply to a tweet showing Smith-Schuster taking with a picture with a young fan by saying:

“That kid had to pay 20 bucks.”

Some observers rushed to Smith-Schuster’s defense, but Madden had a ready answer for those folks, insisting that Smith-Schuster is “a self-centered ass who charged money to those attending a party to bid him farewell.”

Madden even took a parting shot at Smith-Schuster’s dog, Boujee, who has 211,000 followers on Instagram, saying: “Get that dog outta town, too.”

Also Mark Madden: ‘Well … Bye’

But the longtime sports media personality didn’t stop there. On Monday June 13, he wrote a column (titled ‘Well … Bye’), in which he really lit into the former Steelers receiver, saying “JuJu Smith-Schuster keeps saying good-bye but doesn’t leave…. Here’s hoping the party Smith-Schuster threw for himself Sunday is the final farewell.”

Madden also seemed to think it significant that only one of Smith-Schuster’s former Steelers teammates showed up at the event, that being nose tackle Tyson Alualu.

As for Smith-Schuster telling fans that he “could see myself back here” (in Pittsburgh), Madden, in effect, echoed the words of his mother, Sammy Toa-Schuster, who in March claimed her son was “not wanted” by the Steelers.

Madden did admit that he’s going to miss Smith-Schuster, but only because he provides great fodder for columns and radio segments, as when he created an ongoing controversy during the 2020 season by dancing on the logos of opposing teams, or when he created “bulletin-board material” for an AFC North rival by saying: “The Browns is the Browns.”

On Monday, Madden took issue with how Smith-Schuster described himself as being part of the Steelers dynasty.

“That ‘dynasty’ won zero playoff games during Smith-Schuster’s tenure. That doesn’t exactly connect him to Mean Joe Greene,” concluded Madden, who in February engaged in a Twitter war with former Steelers quarterback Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges, one that started after Hodges announced the launch of his new duck hunting podcast.

Madden went on to characterize Hodges as the “worst QB to ever start for the Steelers.”
Hodges has since retired from professional football, after a short, unsuccessful stint with the Ottawa Redblacks of the CFL.

As for Smith-Schuster, the 25-year-old wide receiver joins the Chiefs with 63 regular-season games under his belt, during which time he produced 323 receptions for 3,855 yards and 26 receiving touchdowns, as per Pro Football Reference. He played for the Steelers for five seasons after Pittsburgh made him its second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft (No. 62 overall). His final season in Pittsburgh was interrupted by shoulder injury that required surgery, but he returned to the lineup in time to appear in his team’s postseason loss to Kansas City.

After Smith-Schuster signed with the Chiefs, Madden wrote: “I’m glad he’s gone,” saying his departure — and that of former Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner — marked the end of the Steelers’ ‘Showbiz Era’.

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