“Still wrapping my head around the George Pickens interview I did with Bo last week (2 on 1) that’s being written about and discussed so fervently by everyone but me and Bo. Pickens was just having a little fun.”
The above was a Tweet from veteran Steelers beat reporter, Jim Wexell, on Wednesday, and it was in response to the overall reaction to a quote from an interview that Wexell and Bo Marchionte did with George Pickens for college2pro.com at the onset of OTAs.
“Year two goals are Pro Bowl and I feel like last year I feel like I got snubbed. Cause there wasn’t a lot of guys in there at the Pro Bowl that excited me. Then the Super Bowl. The two bowls. A lot of RAC, run after catch. Two bowls for sure”
That’s it, that’s the quote.
I’m no veteran beat writer (I’m just a veteran sports blogger who is still not sure if I should have placed a comma before and after Jim’s name in the second paragraph), but if I had to say why everyone is fervently discussing Pickens’s quote, it’s because it was just a matter of time.
This is what eventually happens when a Steelers receiver says or does anything saucy.
It was all fun and games when Pickens was making everyone look foolish during his rookie OTAs and training camp in 2022. He was an easy guy to root for during the regular season when he was making acrobatic catches and doing whatever he could with the very little he had to work with in Pittsburgh’s ultra-conservative and ultra-craptastic offense.
But, again, it was just a matter of time. It was just a matter of time before Pickens did something or said something that made Steelers fans at least stand up and take notice. And when I say, “Stand up and take notice,” I don’t mean in the way that he was doing so with his play last summer, fall and winter. No, I mean, in a way that receivers usually make Steelers fans take notice.
By saying or doing diva-like things.
Was Pickens just joking around with his quote, as Wexell seemed to indicate?
Probably, but it doesn’t matter.
It may have been something that was said in jest, but after 87 articles were written about it (just Google “George Pickens snubbed”), and it was filtered through the outrage machine, let’s just say a bit more of the bloom is now off the Pickens rose.
Sure, Pickens may have been having fun, but JuJu Smith-Schuster spent five seasons having fun in Pittsburgh, and all that got him was a bunch of demerits from Steelers fans and media types.
Chase Claypool had much fun and made many enemies during his two-and-a-half seasons in town.
Heck, I’m not even sure if Diontae Johnson knows how to have fun—he just works out all year and may or may not have a TikTok account—but that hasn’t stopped the fans from, well, seriously disliking him.
Anyway, back to Pickens’s bloom.
Some of that bloom initially blew away during a game in Atlanta late last year when the rookie receiver could be seen mouthing “Throw me the ball!” as he walked off the field in a huff.
It’s not unusual for a receiver to be frustrated over a lack of targets—even Lynn Swann and John Stallworth had their “diva” moments during their Hall of Fame careers—but when it happens in Pittsburgh in the modern era, that’s either a cry for help or a sign that you’re about to become the next Antonio Brown (I know, same difference).
To reiterate, I knew this would eventually happen with Pickens. A defensive lineman talks about being snubbed for the Pro Bowl, even in a playful way, and it’s inspiring. A receiver says the same thing, even in a playful way, and it grates on your last damn nerve.
I know what you’re going to say, “This is just the media trying to stir the pot!”
No, this is just some guy reacting to the media trying to stir the pot over a seemingly-playful quote from a Steelers' second-year receiver.
And if I know Steelers receivers, fans and the media like I think I do, you should expect a lot more pot stirring to occur in the very near future as it pertains to George Pickens and his “diva quotient.”