On Thursday Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Devin Bush took to Twitter to deliver a message, one that was completely unsolicited:
Rightly or wrongly, many NFL observers—fans and media alike—saw the ‘Stay TF’ away tweet as a direct shot at teammates who utilize the social media platform TikTok, with wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool the most prominent among them.
Claypool initially seemed taken aback by Bush’s missive, offering a one-word reply.
A day later he made nice with Bush via tweet, conveniently blaming the media for the controversy in the process:
“[JuJu Smith-Schuster] and I know just as good as anyone how manipulative the media is,” he pronounced, before professing his love for his teammate and how he knows Bush is “nothing but solid.”
Never mind that the media didn’t light the match that started this particular TikTok-related fire, one that Bush made that much harder to ignore when he implied that it’s he and his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates that are getting over on the fans, saying, “we the ones winning!! where you think the money coming from…THEY POCKETS.”
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JuJu Smith-Schuster Remains Silent
At least JuJu Smith-Schuster seems to be staying out of this particular exchange, almost certainly a good decision, as last year his usage of TikTok (before and after road games) was an ongoing source of controversy during the second half the season.
In fact, members of the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals all publicly stated that they felt disrespected by Smith-Schuster’s pre-game TikTok videos, which were filmed with the help of Claypool.
You may recall that Smith-Schuster danced on the midfield logos of all three teams, and both the Bills and Bengals indicated they were extra-motivated to beat the Steelers as a result. Moreover, Bengals safety Vonn Bell made Smith-Schuster pay for his perceived disrespect by delivering a huge, fumble-inducing hit on the now fifth-year wide receiver, which played a pivotal role in Cincinnati’s 27-17 win.
TikTok Promises to be an Issue Again in 2021
Initially Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin attempted to ignore the controversy. During a press conference in the wake of his team’s 26-15 mid-December loss to the Bills he claimed it was the “first I’ve heard” of Smith-Schuster’s dancing.
But by the time the Steelers lost to the Bengals the following week, Tomlin and his players were being asked so many questions about TikTok that he had to take action. At that point he indicated he would have “talk” with Smith-Schuster.
Soon afterwards Smith-Schuster publicly stated he didn’t want to be a distraction and that any new videos would “probably be done in-house.”
But Bush lashing out against TikTok users is a reminder that TikTok is likely to be an issue for the Steelers again in 2021, both in-house and among NFL fans and media.
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