- Previously covered the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star and Oklahoma University for the Oklahoman.
PITTSBURGH — After another opponent cited JuJu Smith-Schuster’s pregame dances on their logos as motivation, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he would have a conversation with his wide receiver.
“I am aware of it,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “And I do plan to talk to JuJu. But we’re professionals. I doubt any of those antics and things of that nature are legitimate motivating factors as you step into professional stadiums. It’s about respect.”
The Steelers (11-3) dropped their third straight game Monday night, losing to a Cincinnati Bengals team playing without quarterback Joe Burrow. Before the game, Smith-Schuster did his usual dance routine on the Bengals’ midfield logo and posted it to social media platform TikTok with the caption: “They told to stop dancing and not be yourself so …”
Earlier in the week, Bengals safety Vonn Bell said Smith-Schuster’s pregame logo dances were “disrespectful” and the Bengals defense had to “hit him and let him know where he stands.”
Bell did just that, smoking the wide receiver on third down in the first quarter and forcing a fumble that led to the Bengals’ first touchdown of the night.
“I seen 19 [Smith’s number],” Bell said, grinning as he explained the tackle. “We had a call that freed me up, reading Ben’s eyes and just saying, ‘Man, go make a play.’ We were talking about it on the sideline. It just happened.”
Smith-Schuster also danced on the Buffalo Bills’ logo before the Steelers’ Week 14 Sunday night loss, and the Bills’ players said it motivated them, too.
After that loss, Tomlin said he was unaware of the dancing and the possibility it motivated professional football players. Although he acknowledged Smith-Schuster’s dances this time, he continued to downplay their impact on games.
“I understand it’s about the quality of play inside the white lines,” Tomlin said. “I’m not seeking comfort or looking for excuses based on our recent performances on things that occur in pregame or things of that nature that are social media related.”
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