Michael Conroy / Associated Press
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said Wednesday he will stop dancing on the opponent’s midfield logos before road games.
“For the benefit of myself and my teammates, I want to stop dancing on the logos,” he said told reporters.
Smith-Schuster’s pregame dance party began to attract attention after he posted a video on TikTok showing him on the Buffalo Bills logo in week 14.
The bills immediately took notice. Quarterback Josh Allen seemed to refer to it in his talk to the offense before they left the tunnel – “Let them talk all, all f – king dance, we perform f – king work” – and security Jordan Poyer confirmed that it gave an extra boost.
“I do not want to lie. To see them dance on our logo foreplay and see everything that shows you up a bit,” Poyer told reporters after a 26-15 victory over Pittsburgh. “It gives you a little different itching to get out there and play with a little extra fire.”
Smith-Schuster said he had made the dancers most of the season and had no plans to stop, which he backed up by dancing on the Cincinnati Bengals’ logo before Monday’s Week 15 clash.
“One thing I want to tell you: I do not want to stop being myself,” he said. “I’m going to be the JuJu I came to be: authentic. TikTok is a new platform that I use to keep in touch with my fans and grow. It’s something I’ve been doing since the start of the season, the midseason. “I do not want to stop doing that.”
After Monday’s anger, Bengal’s safety, Vonn Bell, suggested that Smith-Schuster provided extra motivation.
“I’ve seen 19,” Bell told reporters with a smile about what he saw before putting a big hit on the wide receiver. “I’m not a bragging guy, man. I just go out there and let my game talk. It just happened to come to that. I’m just playing football, man. Just going out there and trying to get a play.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who has downplayed any motivational benefit that could be gained from the dance, explained Tuesday that he planned to discuss the situation with his star receiver.
“I’m aware of that,” he said. “And I plan to talk to JuJu. But we’re professionals. I doubt any of these pranks, and things like that, are legitimate motivating factors when you step into professional stadiums. It’s about respect.”
Few things irk train more than potential distractions, especially when a team that previously looked like a title contender has lost three straight matches, including a surprising upset of the Bengals, who came into Monday’s match with a 2-10-1 record.
So while Smith-Schuster’s dance was a harmless bit of fun before kickoff, it’s no surprise that the dance show has been interrupted for the rest of the year as the Steelers try to regain their championship form.
Pittsburgh’s final road game of the regular season comes in Week 17 when it visits FirstEnergy Stadium to take on the Cleveland Browns (10-4) in a game that could decide AFC Nord.