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Steelers Rookie Chase Claypool Adjusting to Life as a Pro Mid-Pandemic

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Collecting an NFL paycheck for the first time is the culmination of a long dream for most football players, and if a player is a highly drafted one, it can also result in a life- and lifestyle-changing amount of money.

For most rookies, it’s also their first time living life out in the world without the assistance of family or the safety net of a college.

Like so many other things, though, 2020 has certainly put a damper on the lifestyle part of things.

With the Steelers getting their off week and a few weeks of six-figure game checks deposited into his bank account, 22-year-old Steelers rookie Chase Claypool hit the town for a big weekend of … playing video games and watching TV.

Given the threat of COVID-19 infection that ended up cancelling the Steelers’ Week 4 game with the Tennessee Titans, that’s about all an NFL player can do an off day right about now, rookie or otherwise.

“Yeah, for the most part, I was just at the house, hanging out, playing video games, watching TV,” Claypool said on Monday after the Steelers returned to work at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the Side South.

Among the highlights of Claypool’s wild weekend included being stuck with the same TV broadcast options as everyone else and being slightly disappointed by his characterization in the league’s newest video game.

“I had a full slate Sunday,” Claypool said. “I watched the games that are available for me. I watched the Browns game then most of the Eagles game. I just was watching just to enjoy football. You want to look at what the guys are doing, but for me, it was more just enjoying watching football on my off day. … My Madden, I filmed a video [Sunday] night. I got the reaction video, so I think I might be posting [Monday night] on my YouTube, but I’m not gonna lie. I was a little disappointed.”

While older players that have been in the city longer or that have families of their own might have more of their lives to tend to, Claypool has been especially isolated due to the pandemic. His parents, back at home in Canada, can’t even come to visit him without spending two weeks in quarantine upon returning to home.

“It’s definitely tough because I know they won’t be able to come to any games this year, unless something crazy happens, because they’d have to go home and quarantine for two weeks,” Claypool said. “That’s a little tough, but I’m used to it. I went to school far away from them and I didn’t see them for long periods of time. So I’m used to it. I just stay in touch with them and I know they’re supporting me back home.”

Having lived in Pittsburgh for just a few months, it’s not like he has a lot of friends here to spend time with, either. And of course, there isn’t a lot to do to get to know his new hometown, either.

“Yeah, I haven’t really been able to see much of the city,” Claypool said. “I’ve been to a couple places to eat but other than that, just really been spending most of the day in my house. The guys are great. I try to get together with the guys off the field every now and then just to just to hang out and keep my sanity. So it’s been good.”

Part of that hanging out with his older teammates involved the team’s rookie dinner, held in modified over the weekend. The rookie dinner usually involves a large, exorbitant dinner where the team’s veterans order the most expensive food and drink on the menu, before leaving the rookies with the bill.

“We got to go on a mini version of the rookie dinner,” Claypool said. “I got stuck with the tab, but it wasn’t too bad.”

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Should Steelers Sign Zach Banner to be Starter in 2021?

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Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault.

He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. With Banner expected to be ready for a return next season, should the Steelers sign the 27-year-old with the anticipation that he could be a key piece to bolster the offensive line that was missing during the 2020 season?

Do you believe in Zach Banner? Comment below with why or why not.

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Steelers

Zach Banner Announces Self-imposed Social Media Ban Until he Signs New Deal

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Zach Banner is sending a clear message about his priorities ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Banner, who is a free agent and looking for a new deal with the Steelers, tweeted that he is going to stay off social media until he officially signs on the dotted line.

Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault. He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. Banner now hopes to return to Pittsburgh and be the missing piece the Steelers offensive line desperately needs.

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Steelers

Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp

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There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.

“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”

Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.

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