After the Buffalo Bills vanquished the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-15, on Sunday Night Football, Buffalo safety Jordan Poyer claimed that JuJu Smith-Schuster’s pregame logo dancing video gave the Bills extra motivation to beat the Steelers. It’s not just the Bills defense that was upset about the video; Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen specifically mentioned dancing (prefaced with a swear word) in the offense’s pregame huddle. (See link immediately above.)
Not surprisingly, at his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, a reporter (Jeff Hathorn) asked Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin about Bills players claiming to be “fired up” about JuJu Smith-Schuster dancing on the logo at midfield—and then posting the video online.
“What do you tell your guys about doing things like that?” Hathorn added.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s the first I heard of that,” began Tomlin.
Then he added: “You know, these are professional players. These guys are motivated each and every week. Sometimes they say things in an effort to provide, you know, a vision of motivation and things of that nature, but I doubt, knowing the group that coaches that team, Sean McDermott, I’m sure that they were motivated in all the proper ways and that had very little relevance in terms of how the game was played.”
The Steelers and ‘Bulletin Board Material’
That may be true. But there’s a reason every NFL player and fan is familiar with the phrase “bulletin board material.” Moreover, Tomlin has frowned on his players giving other teams added motivational material in the past.
For example, Tomlin was reportedly “livid” (see link immediately below) when safety Anthony Smith guaranteed a win against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in 2007, and there’s a history of bulletin board material biting the Steelers in the ass, so to speak, particularly as pertaining to the Patriots.
Likewise, Steelers players have sometimes claimed to draw extra motivation from the words and actions of players and coaches on other teams. Last year, the Steelers were upset at a photo of then-Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens wearing a “Pittsburgh Started It” T-shirt, which went viral prior to the second game of last season’s home-and-home series. (The Steelers won 20-13).
Should Mike Tomlin Address the Issue With JuJu Smith-Schuster?
Bottom line: it’s curious that Tomlin didn’t say anything about whether he would address JuJu Smith-Schuster’s penchant for logo dancing videos, which are entirely self-promotional and can only hurt the team as a whole.
But it seems like something he almost has to do. This is especially true now that opposing coaches and teams can anticipate using Smith-Schuster’s dances as a motivational tool, as there’s a history of him dancing on logos in visiting stadiums. At this point, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Smith-Schuster’s dancing sparked a pregame confrontation—or even an in-game incident.
Recall that Dallas Cowboys players went out of their way to keep Smith-Schuster from celebrating a touchdown on the Dallas star at midfield. Also, Dallas players talked about being offended by Smith-Schuster’s antics even after being beaten by the Steelers.
Moreover, neither the Bills nor Cowboys are division rivals, like the Bengals and Browns, Pittsburgh’s last two road opponents in 2020. Both teams are already motivated to give the Steelers their “best punch” (as Tomlin recently put it) simply because they are the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Why give the Bengals and Browns any added motivation? Much like the Bengals provided the Steelers just last month, courtesy of their social media department’s ‘Steelers Week’ tweet, which attracted the attention of Steelers players past and present.
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You can watch Mike Tomlin’s virtual press conference in its entirety below:
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