The Buzzer Beater with Colton DeBiase: The Steelers Need A Long Look in the Mirror

Written By Colton DeBiase, Sports Columnist

Steelers Legend Jack Lambert said one of my favorite quotes about professional athletes: “I’ve never looked at professional football as a popularity contest; I look at it as my job.” It is a shame, because this is a quote many Steelers can learn from today with their blowout loss to Cleveland in the wild card round of the NFL Playoffs. 

Leading up to the game, Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster said, “They’re still the same Browns that I’ve played every year. I think they’re nameless gray faces.”. That motivated the Browns to come into Heinz Field to shock the football world, with Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield mocking Juju’s quote after the game, so you knew the Browns were playing with a chip on their shoulder. 

Then to make matters worse, rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool a day later on an Instagram Live, said, “Bad loss, but the Browns are gonna get clapped next week, so it’s all good.” The Browns did lose to Kansas City, but only by 5 points. 

This has been a carousel of problems in the Steelers locker room for a few years now, going back to when Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell were still on the team. When social media’s popularity took off, the Steelers began to slow down. Brown and Bell had a problem in Pittsburgh as they were more interested in building their “brands” on social media than winning football games. A prime example is when the Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round in 2017. Antonio Brown went straight to his phone, and Facebook Lived the locker room celebration that was supposed to be private. That was the last playoff game the Steelers won, and it was a distraction to the team as they got blown out by New England in the AFC Championship game one week later.

I hate to say it, but the branding wave started by Bell and Brown has carried over into the current Steelers locker room. If it does not stop, dark days will be ahead for the Steelers. The AFC North will be competitive for the next few years with the Browns and Ravens not going anywhere, and the Bengals are up and coming with Joe Burrow. The Steelers need to get back to the culture that we all knew not so long ago by focusing on winning football games rather than being on social media, branding to your fanbase. 

I am not saying professional athletes are not entitled to lives outside of football. They most certainly can have lives away from the game, whether it’s in the public eye on social media or not. However, when it’s game time, the Steelers need to put winning over everything instead of dancing on other team’s logos for their followers on TikTok. The Steelers leaders such as Big Ben and Cam Heyward need to step up their leadership to end this next season if the Steelers want to see success on the football field again in a stacked division. 

I also have a question for younger Steelers fans who might have a problem with the Steelers antics. Would you rather see the team win and compete for Super Bowls or have their players be social media famous?