PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) — It wasn’t a big deal.
It barely registers as a small deal. But, it is, however minor, some kind of deal – because some people will be turned off by it.
The Steelers’ incredibly-successful, incredibly-likable and incredibly-young wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was recently photographed with a Patriots fan who was wearing a Tom Brady jersey.
The Pats fan beams in the photo and points his index finger at JuJu; it is the international symbol for “you’re the man!” in such photos that make their way around social media.
In kind, JuJu points a finger at the fan. Unbeknownst to the fan it is the middle one — and we all know what that is the international symbol for.
In this instance it’s obvious it is in good fun and JuJu isn’t expressing disdain for the fan, but rather poking some fun at the jersey and Patriots, who are oh-so hated by Steeler Nation. I got a chuckle, for sure.
But, to me at least, this is a wonderful teaching moment for JuJu, who is all of 21-years-old and has Pittsburgh in the palm of his hand already.
The lesson? Stay likable. Stay marketable. Stay that guy who no matter if a Steelers fan is a 15-year-old girl or some 73-year-old man, they like you just the same. In short, don’t give anyone just the slightest reason to question you, especially the way you comport yourself when the cameras and fans are around.
Probably no young, sort-of-newcomer athlete is in a position in Pittsburgh like JuJu is right now – maybe Josh Bell or Matt Murray, but that would be a bit of a stretch. Antonio Brown stands alone as the toast of the town, but JuJu has a real chance to be just a smidgen behind him.
It isn’t a stretch to think, if his career continues to arc the way it has started, you could see JuJu on every billboard and commercial in these parts.
Businesses will be climbing on top of each other to align themselves with JuJu. That skill, that smile, that youthful innocence and genuine congeniality. We have already fallen in love with it and nothing appears as if it will stop us from continuing to be in love with it.
So this isn’t some call for the Steelers or anyone else to punish JuJu. That would be ludicrous and the height of overreaction.
It isn’t some call for some idiotic conversation about how Mike Tomlin has no control of his team, either. That, too, would be ludicrous and the biggest overreaction in Pittsburgh since the last time in snowed 2 inches and people acted like there was a blizzard.
What this is, is a call for a moment to think. Just give it a quick think, JuJu. Stop for a second, my man. Think about that middle finger and while it was all in fun for you, some might not have taken it that way. You know, I got a quick snicker out of it, but I’m sure not everyone did.
Just think about that and stay likable. Stay that blissful and entertaining guy Steelers fans — and this town — want to cling to.
Don’t give anyone a reason to dislike you.