So I’m not at all a Pittsburgh Steelers fan – I was born in Dallas, Texas (need I say more) – but now count me a fan of Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The leading receiver in the AFC (95 receptions) stopped by a Steelers tailgate on his way into Heinz Field last Sunday in Pittsburgh before playing against the New England Patriots. He got out of his car, greeted fans, then grabbed a burger and what looked like a hotdog, before making his way back through a sea of black-and-yellow clad fans. (You can watch a clip of him interacting with fans on youtube. See below!).
I’ve heard of former NASCAR driver and current broadcaster Kenny Wallace mingling with fans at a tailgate but not an NFL player who’s about to suit up and play that day. How cool is that? I guess the burger worked out OK as Smith-Schuster’s pre-game meal. He caught four passes for 40 yards in a 17-10 win over New England. If he’s superstitious at all, he might want to revisit that tailgate in a couple of weeks!
Smith-Schuster is nursing a groin injury, according to multiple reports, so this isn’t the week for a lot of pre-game socializing. But the Steelers are on the road in New Orleans anyway. If they win Sunday, and Baltimore loses, they’ll clinch the AFC North and a playoff berth.
My only issue with Smith-Schuster’s whole tailgating encounter Sunday was that fans might want to consider putting their phones down for a second and interacting with a celebrity when given the chance. It looks like all the man can see are a bunch of cell phones in his face, rather than handshakes and conversation. I realize I’m old school, and probably would have wanted a picture of the moment too, but see for yourself when you watch. Just seems a little extreme.
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Content Editor for Inside Tailgating magazine and insidetailgating.com, freelance writer and author of “Ballplayer,” the Chipper Jones biography that came out in April of 2017. Former sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wife, mother of three young sons and certified Dookie. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.