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Steelers

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster Says He’d ‘Love to Stay in Pittsburgh’

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PITTSBURGH — After the Steelers’ season-ending loss to the Cleveland Browns, star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster shared a tearful hug on the sideline at Heinz Field.

The 2020 season, and all the promise that it once held, was over, and that means an offseason of certain change for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger’s status for 2021 seems uncertain, with a salary cap crunch upcoming and his $41 million cap hit far out-stripping his performance.  Smith-Schuster almost certainly has played his last game in Black and Gold, as the receiver has earned a top dollar free agent contract this summer that the Steelers have no chance of matching.

That gave the team’s loss on Sunday an additional feeling of finality, even compared to other season-ending losses, Smith-Schuster said to Steelers Now.

“It’s tough,” Smith-Schuster said. “I sat on the field just taking it all in. You see Ben and you see guys who I’ve been with for the last four years, tremendous guys, not just players but guys off the field. I’ve learned so much and so thankful to be part of them and it means so much. I don’t know what God has in plan for the veteran guys, but all I know is that I’m so thankful for those guys and they taught me everything I’ve known, and we can’t take it for granted.”

Steelers Now asked Roethlisberger about Smith-Schuster’s time in Pittsburgh and his legacy if he has played his last game with the Steelers.

“I told him how proud I was of him, how much I enjoyed being his teammate, being his quarterback,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t know what the future holds. He doesn’t know. I’ll always support him. I’ll always be proud of him. I think he embodies what it is to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. He’s tough. He shows grit. You saw some of the plays he made tonight. They were black and gold through and through. I hope I can speak for the fans when I would say that they don’t want him going anywhere, we don’t want him going anywhere. He’s Steelers and he’s fun. I’m just thankful for his efforts.”

Smith-Schuster led the Steelers with 13 catches and 157 yards and scored a five-yard touchdown in the team’s second-half comeback.

If his Steelers career is over, he’ll end it with 308 catches, 3,726 yards and 26 touchdowns in four seasons, an All-Rookie selection and a Pro Bowl selection, but without a postseason victory. That makes the prospect of leaving anything but sweet for the 24-year-old that has built his career in Pittsburgh.

“I would love to stay in Pittsburgh,” he said. “I built a strong foundation and a strong fan base. I love Coach Tomlin and Coach Ike everybody I’ve been around. They’ve helped change the way I am, I love the game of football and I would love to do it again.”

Pro Football Hall of Fame

HOF Voter Ed Bouchette Makes Hall of Fame Case for Former Steelers Guard Alan Faneca

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As the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee met Tuesday, The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette made the case for former Pittsburgh Steelers guard Alan Faneca.

Bouchette listed Faneca’s career accomplishments, of which there are many, and compared him to others league-wide and at his positions with similar credentials, demonstrating how it is long past time the six-time All-Pro received the football’s highest honor.

Selected in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft out of LSU, Faneca spent the first decade of his career in Pittsburgh before closing with the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals.

Faneca missed just two games over his 13-year career, was selected to nine-straight Pro Bowls and named First-Team All-Pro six times. He was also named to the All-Decade team of the 2000s and won Super Bowl XL with the Steelers.

The Class of 2021 will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 8, 2021.

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Pro Football Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame Selector Bill Polian Makes Case for Former Steelers Scout Bill Nunn

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With the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee meeting Tuesday to determine the next group legends to be enshrined, Hall of Famer and former general manager Bill Polian made the case for Pittsburgh Steelers scout Bill Nunn.

In his presentation, Polian especially highlighted Nunn’s impact as a revolutionary in the scouting process targeting historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Nunn’s vital scouting these underrepresented players and institutions proved vital in crafting the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s.

“He was the authority, while working for the (Pittsburgh) Courier, on HBCU football. He might well have been termed the Scout-in-Chief of HBCU football,” Polian said. “Bill Nunn helped create one of the greatest teams of all time.”

A Pittsburgh native, Nunn attended Westinghouse high school and West Virginia State College before embarking on a journalism career with the Pittsburgh Courier. Eventually becoming the managing editor of the paper, Nunn gained notoriety for his black college All-American teams, highlighting relatively unknown players at HBCUs.

Nunn’s expertise translated to his career with the Steelers, where his scouting led the organization to draft a number of legends form HBCUs, including L.C. Greenwood, Mel Blount, Ernie Holmes, John Stallworth and Donnie Shell.

Nunn would become the first Steelers nominated as a contributor if selected. Executives Art and Dan Rooney were inducted prior to the designation in 1964 and 2000, respectively.

The Class of 2021 will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 8, 2021.

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Steelers

Steelers WR Chase Claypool Named to PFWA NFL All-Rookie Team

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Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool has been named to the 2020 Pro Football Writers of America NFL All-Rookie team.

Claypool was honored along with Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson as the top 2020 rookies at the position. 

The Notre Dame product caught 62 passes for 873 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He also rushed for a pair of scores, tying Louis Lipps for the most touchdowns scored by a Steelers rookie with 11 total.

Claypool was the 11th wide receiver selected in the 2020 NFL Draft when the Steelers took him with the 49th overall selection. 

Claypool previously won the Joe Greene Great Performance Award as the Steelers’ rookie of the year.

This is the second straight season the Steelers had a PFWA All-Rookie member, as linebacker Devin Bush was a part of the 2019 squad. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and linebacker T.J. Watt were awarded in 2017.

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