Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a season-ending shoulder surgery in last Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, and he addressed it during his foundation’s luau on Wednesday,
Smith-Schuster delivered a heartful speech to his family, friends and teammates in attendance.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) is helped off the field after being injured during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. ((AP Photo/Keith Srakocic))
Smith-Schuster showed up at the podium with his right arm in a sling. As he started his speech, the former Pro Bowl wideout fought through tears while expressing what football has meant to him.
“Last night was the hardest night for me because football has done so much for me in my life, more than you guys will ever know,” Smith-Schuster said. “My stepdad put my in football when I was four years old. It was fun. You get to hit kids and not get in trouble, right? I always loved the game.”
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) is upended by Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson (22) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. Smith-Shuster was injured on the play and left the field. ((AP Photo/Don Wright))
“Last night was hard for me because, when I got the call from the doctors, you know, shoulder injury, I thought you put it back in and you’ll be fine within two weeks, and our bye week is coming up, and I was like, ‘I can take two weeks off, come back and play this season.’ Doctor called me and said, ‘Hey, man, I think we have to do this surgery. You can get a second opinion.’ And [he] said it was a season-ending injury.”
Smith-Schuster continued: “And I sat there and I cried. I cried all night. I cried because I love this game so much, more than anyone will know. I know the whole social media thing, and the whole TikTok and dancing and all that, I do it because it’s my personality and I love it. Don’t get me wrong.”
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) gets up after being injured on a play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. ((AP Photo/Don Wright))
“But football will always come first. Without football, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Without football, this wouldn’t be. I wouldn’t … be a role model for a lot of people. I cried that night because you just never know what the future holds for you. If I look at the light in front of me and don’t keep my head down and just keep pushing forward, and I come back even stronger than I was this year, I know God has a bright future for me.”
In five games this season, Smith-Schuster hauled in 15 receptions for 129 yards and no touchdowns. The Steelers will rely heavily on wide receivers Diontae Johnson, James Washington and Chase Claypool to pick up the slack in Smith-Schuster’s absence.