The Pittsburgh Steelers are 6-6-1 in a very interesting year for the AFC North division.
Claypool committed a serious mental error in the closing seconds of the Steelers Week 14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings; this was after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed on him in the first quarter.
While celebrating a big completion from Roethlisberger to continue the drive, Claypool’s antics cost the Steelers valuable seconds which could have resulted in running another play and a chance to secure a buzzer-beater victory.
CBS’s Adam Schein characterized Claypool’s late-game actions as follows:
“His act makes me sick. How selfish and clueless can you be? More interested in TikTok than the game clock.”
"The end of the game should not overshadow the beginning. Pittsburgh was pathetic…Then there's Chase Claypool. His act makes me sick. How selfish and clueless can you be? More interested in TikTok than the game clock."
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) December 10, 2021
To illustrate Schein’s point, Claypool has 1.8 million TikTok followers and 34.1 million likes on his previously posted videos.
With that being said, is Claypool becoming a distraction for the Steelers?
The answer is yes, just ask Ryan Clark.
Ryan Clark’s Take
“Chase Claypool is as mentally and emotionally underdeveloped as he is physically overdeveloped… He only cares about himself! And that self-centeredness is part of what’s bringing the Steelers team and organization down.”
.@Realrclark25 went OFF on Chase Claypool 😳
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 10, 2021
Claypool’s productivity is down considerably from last season.
He has just 1 touchdown and 753 yards receiving compared to 873 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns in 2020 (9 receiving and 2 rushing).
The Steelers dealt with this type of immature behavior last season with JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Deja Vu To 2020
This screams of similarities to Smith-Schuster’s TikTok antics last year.
Claypool was behind the camera for some of those.
JuJu Smith-Schuster performs his pregame TikTok dance on the Cincinnati Bengals logo as Chase Claypool films it. pic.twitter.com/Ho2CgVsfNm
— Jake Mysliwczyk (@jake_mysliwczyk) December 21, 2020
Fun Fact: Juju Smith Schuster has more TikTok videos (95) than receiving yards in a game this season (93). 😭😭😭😭😭🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
— sean (@seanw6816) December 22, 2020
Eventually, Coach Tomlin put a stop to Smith-Schuster’s dances that fired up the opposing teams to put it to him during the game.
How will he handle Claypool?
It is hard to say.
Speaking of Fitzgerald, Twitter posted an example of how Claypool should have handled that late second play on Thursday night based on Fitzgerald’s actions in a similar situation.
Larry Fitzgerald vs. Chase Claypool… pic.twitter.com/VtBzKKCo9z
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) December 11, 2021
Immaturity + Social Media = A Bad Combination For Young NFL Players
Claypool is 23 years old.
He is a sought after social media personality who is still trying to navigate adulthood.
These behaviors may help his social media following, but they do not help his team and are not conducive to winning.
Adam Schein, in his postgame rant, suggested that Tomlin bench Claypool.
While that may help rectify the behavioral issues, it will not help the Steelers overall.
Though they are struggling, they are still in the thick of things in the super strange AFC North of 2021.
To be clear, not every 23-year-old NFL player behaves like this.
However, it is likely to become a trend as young athletes gain notoriety on social media.
If they will not be benched or disciplined in the long term, we can expect more of the same types of behavior in the future.