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Forget about the Isaac Redman Award, this is the Summer of George (Pickens)

It really doesn’t matter what else is going on at Steelers training camp, and I don’t care about the current crop of candidates for the Isaac Redman Award. Nothing else matters except the exploits of rookie WR, George Pickens. That’s right, it’s the Summer of George.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

“The D was angry that day, my friends; like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.”

That’s how I imagine an older George Pickens jumping into a story about his rookie season with the Steelers; he may even describe a game in Miami and the time Pickens looked into the eyes of a mighty Dolphin and conquered the great fish (mammal, whatever).

You’ll have to excuse my use of hyperbole; Pickens, the Steelers' second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, has been the number one story during the early days of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

I don’t know the receiver position as well as other people—X, Y, Z, slot, etc.—and even when I ask someone to explain what the differences are, someone else has to explain the explanation.

It’s a whole thing.

I do know hype and hoopla. I also know amazing catches when I see them. Body control and total domination of an opponent are also easy for your average football observer to identify and appreciate.

The above paragraph aptly describes the early portions of Pickens’s rookie training camp. It doesn’t matter if the pads are on or off. It doesn’t matter who he’s going up against on defense. George Pickens has been a force.

He’s the master of his domain. He’s winning every contest.

I didn’t know if I should believe the hype about Pickens after the Steelers selected the Georgia product back in April. “If it wasn’t for that torn ACL he suffered in March of 2021, there is no doubt Pickens would have been the number one receiver selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.”

“Yeah, okay,” I thought. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

I know it’s still very early, but I’m starting to believe the hype about Pickens. I’m starting to think a lot of NFL teams messed up by worrying about Pickens’s torn ACL and avoiding him for the better part of two rounds.

Maybe I’m crazy, but this feels like the Steelers discovered plutonium by accident.

Sure, Pickens has decided to wear No. 14—the same digit worn by a now infamous former Steelers receiver picked in the second round. But Pickens has been the opposite of everything Limas Sweed was in 2008.

Does Pickens still live with his parents? I don’t know, but he could probably tell a woman that and get away with it. He could wear sweatpants (or that head cap thingy) on a date with her and still come off as confident and sure of himself.

Pickens could probably even walk into Art II’s office and chastise the Steelers owner for reducing the team to a laughingstock after selling the naming rights of the rookie’s new football home to some company called Acrisure.

None of it would matter. Pickens is in a zone. He’s currently the king of his castle. His hands are gorgeous. His mother always said he had nice hands, and now he’s modeling them in his first NFL training camp.

Speaking of the opposite of what normally happens, Steelers fans even liked something Chase Claypool had to say: “I think he {George Pickens} is going to be the best rookie receiver in the NFL.”


I don’t know who is going to win the Isaac Redman Award in 2022, but, quite frankly, it seems insignificant this year. This really is The Summer of George.

Sometimes I wonder if I should be hyping Pickens up so much. After all, who is he to play God with the careers of these Steelers’ defensive backs? Maybe Pickens has always wanted to pretend to be an architect, but do his plans have to include the demolition of his teammates?

I’m also fully aware of the fact that Pickens is a receiver; it’s certainly no secret that a lot of Steelers receivers start out as fan favorites before something very embarrassing happens to their popularity: Shrinkage. It doesn’t matter if he’s saying stuff on Twitter or going for a swim in the pool, a Steelers receiver almost always does something away from the field to make his popularity shrink like a frightened turtle.

What if Pickens decides to develop his brand away from football? What if George’s worlds—football and social media—collide? What if Pickens decides to go on Twitter one day and air his list of grievances against Steelers fans who may have been critical of him over a dropped pass? I’m not sure I have the stomach for more debates over the non-football-related activities of a young Steelers receiver.

Oh well, I’m not going to worry about that at the moment. Nope, I’m going to continue to bask in the glow of The Summer of George.

Heck, I may even go write another story about Pickens.

That’s right, I’m going to double dip. I don’t care, though. Have you seen him catch a pass? It’s like he’s putting his whole body on the ball.