Best Local Sports Personality: JuJu Smith-Schuster 2019 | People + Places | Pittsburgh

Best Of PGH

Best Local Sports Personality: JuJu Smith-Schuster

click to enlarge Best Local Sports Personality: JuJu Smith-Schuster
CP photo: Jared Wickerham

We first fell in love with Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster because of his bike. As a rookie in 2017, Smith-Schuster rode his bike to practice in the South Side. His earnestness, his pragmatism, and his dedication to the city were evident. Not to mention all those greenhouse gas emissions he was saving! He was the perfect model of the new Pittsburgh, one that appreciated all the new bike lanes, but was also committed to its traditions, like making the Steelers a first-class football team. 

Eventually, Smith-Schuster earned his driver's license and ditched the bike, but stayed in Pittsburghers’ hearts because he’s shown he is still earnest, pragmatic, and dedicated on and off the field. In 2018, the Steelers players named him the team’s Most Valuable Player. He led the team in total receptions (111) and total receiving yards (more than 1,400), surpassing Antonio Brown as the Steelers' top receiver for the 2018 season. 

Brown didn’t take kindly to the transition to Smith-Schuster becoming Ben Roethlisberger’s leading target, and he insulted Smith-Schuster in a tweet by calling him out for a costly fumble Smith-Schuster had late in the 2018 season. Some back and forth ensued on Twitter between the two receivers, with Smith-Schuster taking the high road for the most part. Brown ended up being traded to Oakland and signing a large contract. 

“All I ever did was show that man love and respect from the moment I got to the league. I was genuinely happy for him too when he got traded to Oakland w/ a big contract, and now he takes shots at me on social media?” tweeted Smith-Schuster. “Crazy how big that ego got to be to take shots at people who show you love!”

Steelers fans by-and-large sided with Smith-Schuster and were happy to see Brown traded. 

But Smith-Schuster’s actions off the field have earned him fans too. He has taken on a large role in the Pittsburgh philanthropic scene, giving to causes like Meals on Wheels and starting his own foundation. Naturally, he even hosted a charity bike ride last year. 

We hope to see Smith-Schuster continue to rack up touchdowns, and some miles on his bike.