Last week, a fan asked JuJu Smith-Schuster to sign an autograph for him. A pretty normal request, right? But this wasn’t the typical signing meant exclusively to be on display 24/7 in a fan cave. It wasn’t on an 8x10 glossy, a Pittsburgh Steelers helmet or scribbled across numbers on a JuJu replica jersey. This request actually answered Myron Cope’s long-standing question to callers on his radio show back in the day...”What’s on your cranium?”. Yes, my friends, Joel Schock of Lancaster, has the Steelers’ standout, third-year receiver’s penmanship emblazoned on his noggin forever.
With media later in the day, No. 19 recalled the memorable exchange.
“He had the Steelers logo like tattooed in his head, so he had a mohawk,” Smith-Schuster said. “And he was like, Can you sign my helmet?’, I’m like, ‘What helmet? What are you talking about?’ I signed his head, like his actual head. Sharpie, all that. I don’t think he’s gonna shower for the next week.”
When a reporter suggested that the fan could possibly immortalize JuJu’s “John Hancock” on his mohawked melon with a tattoo, an inspired Smith-Schuster replied, “He might, honestly. If he does, that’s lit. If he gets that tattooed on his head, I’ll get him any tickets to any game so if he’s out there watching this ... yes.”
I guess you could call this a perfect case of “Schock-value” because after the fan returned home and had his tattoo artist permanently seal the signature into his skull, JuJu held up more than his end of the bargain. Schock didn’t just receive tickets to any game, he got tickets to every game in the form of season tickets.
The headline to this article might be somewhat deceiving because I’m not going to bash or belittle this particular fan experience at all. I have no problem with it. I personally wouldn’t do it, but I’m not going to belittle a person for even the most extreme passionate display of one’s fandom, as long as it is not harmful to others. In fact, I have a Steelers tattoo on my person. The difference is that you won’t see it unless you’re at a pool with me or you are a peeping tom and are checking me out as I exit the shower. I’m also an avid collector of Steeler autographs, but I’d rather put them on the wall for show and not be the display case. Sure it is a great conversation piece, but not ideal for church or job interviews. Plus it limits one’s modeling options. I’d also rather pay the steep price of season tickets should I choose by whipping out plastic or cold, hard cash than with my flesh. I’m 47 and my mother, wife and daughter objected over my recently growing a beard, head-ink would only get me grief.
So if I’m cold with it, why the headline? I respect Joel Schock’s originality. I’m even okay with the fact that the Lancasterinan will be a face of extreme Steeler fandom. Do I think it’s worthy of season tickets, not really. But JuJu does and the act was original. What I do have a problem with is copycats coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches to an old sandwich. And yes, it has already happened. Another fan had James Conner sign his name high on her chest and below her shoulder. She, too, made it forever with a tattoo. I don’t believe that this particular fan was compensated with tickets or memorabilia. But jumping on the bandwagon and following suit with a crazy stunt for possible reward or brief media civerage is disconcerting to me.
Will this attention-seeking continue? My bet is that it is highly likely. Will it grow tired fast? Yes, it already has. Be a crazy Steeler fan for all I care. Just do something different. If you’ll now excuse me, my number has been called to get my Ramon Foster tramp stamp and the media is waiting.