What Steelers fans refuse to see in George Pickens

Pittsburgh Steelers, George Pickens
Pittsburgh Steelers, George Pickens / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

It is no secret that George Pickens won the hearts of Pittsburgh Steelers fans in what felt like a matter of minutes, but he has also made quick work of earning praise from his teammates—star linebacker T.J. Watt is the latest example of this.

In an interview with NBC Sports’ Peter King, Watt was vocal about everything Pickens does well, and that level of respect is something that the young wide receiver undoubtedly deserves.

In just his rookie season, Pickens established himself as a go-to target for insane catches in big moments, and he did so in spite of multiple concerning factors. Said factors included quarterback Kenny Pickett also being a rookie, the Steelers offense needing to find its identity as the season progressed, and being stuck with offensive coordinator Matt Canada (who is quite possibly the most hated man in the city of Pittsburgh).

George Pickens' similarity goes far beyond talent on the Steelers

But while a good portion of what Pickens has given us so far never fails to make us smile, I can’t help but feel that things with him are going a bit too well. That should surprise no one, though, as the reasons for me keeping my guard up fall solely on recent memories that all Steelers fans should have.

Yes, Pickens has proven that he has both the adaptability and potential to shine in the NFL for years to come, but we saw the same amount of promise early in the careers of a couple other Pittsburgh wide receivers: JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool. What do those two receivers have in common? Both of them are on different teams today.

But hey, what’s that got to do with anything? Sometimes things don’t work out, right? A franchise is bound to find itself in positions where it has to make decisions that it normally wouldn’t prefer; that’s just part of sports.

However, in the cases of JuJu and Claypool, their exits came at times where they were seen as more problematic than talented. This was due to their obnoxious personalities—another characteristic that Pickens seems to share with them.

I’m not going to rip into Pickens about this too much, as I can happily say that he has not stooped as low as the others have (with tone-deaf TikTok videos, poorly timed celebrations, etc.). That does not mean that he hasn’t displayed any concerning antics, though.

There have already been several instances of him getting up after a great catch and either going too far with his mannerisms, running his mouth to his defender, or a mixture of both.

Regardless of whether that kind of behavior on its own can be deemed “excusable,” one cannot deny that it has the ability to manifest into something more, and that leaves me afraid to go all in on the thought of Pickens being a long-term Steelers star until further notice. Things have just gone south one too many times for me to feel any other way this early on in his young NFL journey.

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I do not wish to paint George Pickens out as anything more than a tad cocky, but if any fanbase would understand the dangers of what that trait can lead to, it would be Pittsburgh’s. All I ask is that we give Pickens a bit more time to settle in (and perhaps mature) before we commit to him like we wrongfully did to some of those before him.