The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their third game in a row on Monday Night Football, losing 27-17 to a very bad Cincinnati Bengals team. There are myriad reasons for this disappointing loss from a team that won every game for 11 straight weeks; injuries on defense are starting to pile up, Ben Roethlisberger looks like a 38-year-old trying to play professional football, take your pick.
The reason that everyone is talking about this morning has nothing to do with the actual play on the field and falls into the vague, gray area category of "motivation" and "disrespect." This is because JuJu Smith-Schuster danced on the opposing team's logo for the third straight week during pregame warmups, an activity which happens to coincide with his team's first three losses of the season. Smith-Schuster does this for his TikTok profile and the dances have all been inspired by the social media platform.
Such outlandish activities like dancing pregame will be heavily scrutinized and likely criticized when it comes to the NFL. I present to you Exhibit A: Skip Bayless calling it "out of control" and partially blaming the Steelers' losing streak on Smith-Schuster's happy feet.
I will acknowledge that the players on the opposing sideline, as dumb as it might be, will take this as a sign of disrespect. And Smith-Schuster knows that. Therefore, he should be ready to back all that up with much better play than what he's been putting out there during this TikTok streak.
HOWEVER. This kind of pearl-clutching from old media dudes like Skip really grinds the gears. Is it a bad look for a player to dance all over the opponents' logo and then lose while coming up short in important situations? Sure. Is it out of control, over the edge, out of line? Come on now. Maybe save that for the actually bad stuff that happens in the league, especially in a year stricken by a global catastrophe.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk about the role of exaggeration in sports talk show discourse. Hopefully Smith-Schuster dances ahead of a Steelers loss again and we'll get to see Skip blow a gasket. It's the little things!