Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett garnered national attention this week for how he responded to a hit from defensive lineman Quinnen Williams in last Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
On the play in question, Pickett took a big hit from the 300-pounder to complete a down-the-middle pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth, but got up smiling — and jawing — with Jets defenders.
Recounting the incident during a media session earlier this week, Pickett said he couldn’t recall exactly what was said during that particular exchange.
“I don’t remember, man, I like to have fun…. Quinnen Williams, we were talking all game. Sometimes it looks like we’re talking smack, but sometimes we’re just having fun playing. He’s a heck of a player. I like competing against the best, so I’m excited to go play against one of the best again,” he concluded, presumably referring to this weekend’s matchup against the top-ranked defense of the Super Bowl-favorite Buffalo Bills, who are allowing an average of just 234.5 yards per game.
Notably, this behavior is nothing new for Pickett. A similar incident unfolded during his first full season as a starter at Pitt, where he played his college football. In a new feature in The Athletic (‘Kenny Pickett, the Steelers’ trash-talking Goliath-slayer, is ready for his moment’), one of Pitt’s offensive linemen recalled Pickett’s reaction after he was leveled by UCF’s nose tackle during a game in 2018.
“Before I could help him up, Kenny popped up and he started talking trash, yelling at the kid. Like, you know, certain words that you can’t say in an article,” said former Pitt center Jimmy Morrissey.
Kenny Pickett Likes to Trash Talk With Mike Tomlin
Perhaps not surprisingly, Pickett enjoys talking trash at practice, too, another subject he addressed at this week’s mid-week press conference.
“I would say on scout team it wasn’t the most fun all the time but I’m competitive. I’m not the nicest guy, so I like to say some stuff, but it’s all good. I like to compete,” he added, before admitting he has no hesitation about giving as good as he gets, even if it’s Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin doing the giving.
“We would go back and forth,” Pickett said about engaging in trash talk with Tomlin while serving as scout team quarterback in recent weeks.
“If (the defense) made a good play, he would chirp at me a little bit. If I made a big play, I wouldn’t hear him too much, so I’d ask if he was at practice that day. It was great. It was a great atmosphere to compete,” he said.
Cam Heyward: Mike Tomlin Aims Trash Talk at Chris Boswell, Too
Of course, Pickett isn’t the only Steelers player to hear smack talk from Mike Tomlin at practice.
Earlier this year, Steelers captain Cam Heyward revealed that any and all Steelers players are liable to be on the receiving end of one of Tomlin’s barbs, but that kicker Chris Boswell hears the smack talk as much as anyone.
“Boz gets it a lot,” says Heyward. “Mike T. is always talking about (Justin) Tucker. He’s like ‘Tucker is 1A, Boz, you’re 1B,’” making reference to Baltimore’s All-Pro placekicker.
“But Boz always backs it up,” says Heyward. “He’s like, ‘Yeah, but you got me, though.’”