NFL players are not that different from regular people. When you get asked the same questions over and over again, it can get a little annoying. When those questions continue to spill in, you start to wonder where the origin, and overall thought behind the questions, is coming from.
This is what happened with Juju Smith-Schuster when he was put through the media ringer at the 2017 NFL Combine. After the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Smith-Schuster in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, I went back to the combine interview transcripts, and several aspects of his interview popped out to me.
First, it seems he met with almost every NFL team looking at a wide receiver, except for Pittsburgh. He has admitted since being drafted how he only met with the Steelers in a brief combine interview.
More important when looking at the transcripts were his comments about how every team asked about his speed, his age and his maturity.
(what do you think you have to prove here)
“A lot of questions that they questioned me was he’s young, he’s immature, he doesn’t know football, and speed.”
(do you have all those)
“I think I’m doing well. Just kind of stay humble.”
Smith-Schuster then went on to answer questions about his passion for the game, and how important his kickoff return kicking abilities are to an NFL team.
(which team did you grow up watching)
“I didn’t have one. It was all about different players on different teams.”
(Fournette said he didn’t really watch football growing up and that has people wondering if he loves football; do you love football)
“I’m going to say [I’m] a guy that loves football, but priority [wise] football is No. 3 in my life.”
(what’s No. 1 and No. 2)
“God and family.”
(how important is kick return ability during interviews with teams)
“It’s huge. And it’s not even me returning kicks, it’s me being in the front-line kickoff return, me being on punt, me being a gunner. Those are all great things that I bring, can package to teams.”
Smith-Schuster clearly was drilled with questions about being the youngest player in the NFL Draft, his maturity level, even how he wore a minions and elmo backpack during his college career (that isn’t a joke).
(You had a minions backpack)
“That was all my college career. I had a minions backpack, the version that kind of talks, like, ba-na-na, babba-doup, something like that. It lights up. It was pretty dope, though. Then I switched over to Elmo.”
(why switch to Elmo)
“The minion backpack couldn’t handle all my schoolwork so it was breaking apart and Elmo came along and took over.”
(how did that come about)
“My little brothers and sisters. We went backpack shopping and they said they think I should get one and I got one and they said you should get an Elmo one now.”
Some might chalk this up to NFL teams doing their due diligence with potential prospects, but it also creates a player who has a lot to prove.
For the Steelers, they hope Smith-Schuster not only proves his worth, but shows age is nothing but a number as he helps the black and gold take the next step in 2017 on their way to Super Bowl 52.