U mad, bro?: Chase Claypool’s bravado, Rashard Mendenhall’s excuses have Steelers fans grumbling

A Steelers wide receiver is making bold predictions. An ex-Steelers running back is making lame excuses.

Mike Tomlin is talking about Antonio Brown. And a local university is considering a nickname change.

So much for a midsummer swoon for “U mad, bro?” Things are plenty hot this week.

Let’s start with some blowback against Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool. This week on theI Am Athletepodcast Claypool predicted that he’ll be a top-five (maybe even top-three) receiver in the NFL. He also said that he would catch 10 touchdowns and have 1,300 receiving yards.

I’ll disagree with that last one. See, I think that Claypool does have that kind of talent and ability. Yet he hasn’t come close to putting it together enough so that those kinds of accolades and stats could be achieved. Unfortunately, he still appears to want that kind of acknowledgment now.

Meanwhile, Claypool himself seemed mad about people criticizing him.

Nah. That’s not it, Chase.

For instance, when you predicted 14 touchdowns before the start of 2021, that was perfectly realistic. I mean, you had 11 the year before.

Yet, you wound up with two in 2021. Not to mention that just about all your other stats were flat, or down, as well.

People aren’t upset about your stated goals for this year. They are reminding you of your failed prediction from last year. And when you put these things out in the public like this, can you blame ’em?

“WBQUICK” emailed, disagreeing with my interpretation of the changing narrative surrounding the draft choice of Kenny Pickett following minicamp. Especially with how I framed it in a recent post about Some comments ex-Steelers coach Bill Cowher made about the Steelers’ quarterback battle.

So who exactly ‘led us to believe’ that Pickett’s maturity would allow him to start immediately? Someone from the Steelers organization or just the consensus of the smart guys in the newsroom?

First of all, I didn’t write “start immediately.” I wrote “the learning curve wasn’t going to be so steep” (as Bill Cowher made it out to be with his quote in that column).

As far as those quotes from people in the Steelers organization regarding his maturity…

Kevin Colbert on draft day: “Kenny is just a mature, even-keeled guy. When we’re studying the quarterbacks, we not only watch them on the field, but we watch them off the field, when they come off, how are they with their teammates, how do they interact with their coaches, how do they conduct media interviews … we feel that the maturity that he displayed on and off the field will help him in that endeavor.”

Mike Tomlin on draft day: “It was a good thing for him to come back and go back to school and gain another year of college experience. He is 24 years old. He is a mature young man. You do see maturity in his game, and I think all those things are going to put him into a position to compete.”

Is that what you were looking for?


A smart guy in the newsroom

David thinks I’m trying to put too much of a positive spin on how the Steelers will handle Stephon Tuitt’s retirement.

God bless you Tim and your rose colored glasses. Or desire to keep your Steelers access.

Loss of a prime player this year is less than last year (because) the Steelers (stunk) last year. There is less distance to fall.

I love the suggestion we can move the line members around since they aren’t great in one position but can play several positions. You ever heard of ‘moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic?’

Basically the team has gotten worse year after year, the goal is (to) finish above .500 and pretend the Super Bowl is achievable despite being the worst team in a pretty mediocre division. Hopes are for a wild card. Lose that. But, hey, if the ball bounced a different way … Super Bowl.

Yup. That’s me. Renowned for my Steelers optimism and desire to suck up to the organization. I’m sure all the readers and members of the Steelers organization would agree whole-heartedly with that assessment. Fire a critical word about the Steelers is typed by these fingers.

Also, I’m not sure who I suggested will move around along the defensive line other than Tyson Alualu, who has already successfully played defensive end and nose tackle with this team. So, what’s your concern on that front? And now that Larry Ogunjobi is on board, whatever worries you have should be even further mitigated.

But regarding where the franchise is in terms of what has become acceptable standards of medicine, you aren’t saying anything I haven’t written multiple times.

I don’t have rose-colored glasses, David. But maybe you should put on a pair of readers and do a little research before you snap off another email.

This person disagreed with my opinion on 105.9 The X that George Washington University and Robert Morris University were exaggerating the extent of “offense” people took to the nickname “Colonials.” Recently, GW announced that they were changing the name. Robert Morris hasn’t ruled out that possibility.

Which side is exaggerating?

The one that said (quoting from the petition here) the GW nickname was “extremely offensive by not only affiliations of the university, but the nation and world at large.”

That side, maybe?

Yes. The “nation and the world at large” is highly concerned about the mascot of a college whose men’s basketball team went 12-18 last year.


Keith didn’t like the headline for Wednesday’s “First Call” regarding what Mike Tomlin had to say this week on the topic of Antonio Brown potentially returning to the Steelers.

Why are you and the rest of the media bent on taking what Tomlin actually said and shortening it to this silly headline? Oh yeah, clicks taps and fan venom replies. Thought you were better. This type of journalism is tired and annoying.

Because headlines are short by design. That’s what makes them, uh, “headlines.” Not “headparagraphs.

There are multiple full quotes from Tomlin in the story, including the one I believe you are referencing when he said he and Brown had nine great years together. So is a link to the whole podcast if people want the full context.

This really shouldn’t need to be explained. Thought you were better.

Finally, let’s get to this person on Twitter, who seemed to enjoy Rashard Mendenhall’s recent statement that he didn’t fumble in the Super Bowl XLV loss to the Green Bay Packers. He was … technically … “separated from the ball.”

I suggested that the NFL create a new “Separated From The Ball” stat (SFTBs), or simply refer to them as “Mendenhalls.”

Yes. And when JuJu Smith-Schuster “Mendenhalled” against the New Orleans Saints in 2018, it essentially cost them a playoff spot. Same thing when he “Mendenhalled” against the Ravens in overtime in 2019. Or when he “Mendenhalled” in Cincinnati after dancing on the logo.

It really is a very useful stat when you think about it.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.