Smith-Schuster: Steelers have to 'stop being divas'

Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said Thursday the Steelers need to limit off-field drama and distractions, comparing the team to a family of reality TV stars.

"I think everyone just needs to stop being divas," Smith-Schuster said on ESPN's First Take. "I think we need to stop being the Kardashians and just play ball."

The wideout wouldn't offer names when asked about which teammates he might be referring to, saying only, "I've learned a lot in that locker room, and I know that I would never want to be a problem to any franchise."

The Steelers battled numerous off-field distractions this season, including the year-long holdout of running back Le'Veon Bell and several issues with wide receiver Antonio Brown. Those culminated with Brown's absence from the team during Week 17 and now could lead to his departure via trade, though Smith-Schuster said in a separate interview Wednesday he expects things to get sorted out and for Brown to return.

The term "Kardashians" is not a new one used to describe these Steelers. Tight end Jesse James said much the same thing in an interview with PennLive.com in December.

"Ah man, we are -- Kardashians," James said. "We have, I mean, we're something. ...We were in the front of the ticker on ESPN too much for just reasons that weren't related to football and not for us playing great ball. It was more distractions."

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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, left, makes a catch in drills during NFL football minicamp, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In this photo from July 28, 2017, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Justin Hunter (11) walks beside quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during practice at NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa. The Steelers won't lack for options at wide receiver heading into 2017. From rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster to mercurial Martavis Bryant to erratic Sammie Coats to veteran Justin Hunter, the picture behind Antonio Brown is crowded and cloudy. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster warms up before an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) celebrates with Antonio Brown (84) after scoring during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) crosses the goal line for a touchdown after taking a pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) carries the ball into the end zone for a touchdown as Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (57) watches during the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) celebrates with JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) afters scoring during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) celebrates his touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2017, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) smiles on he sideline during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cincinnati Bengals cornerback George Iloka have been suspended one game each by the NFL for violating league safety rules. Smith-Schuster was flagged for unnecessary roughness and taunting after a blindside hit on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict in the fourth quarter of Pittsburgh's 23-20 victory Monday night, Dec. 5. Iloka was penalized for unnecessary roughness for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) runs on a 69-yard pass play during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) celebrates with JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) after scoring a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) sits after scoring a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) visits with fans on the sidelines during warmups before an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) returns a kickoff 96-yards for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
This is a 2018 photo of JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL football team. This image reflects the Pittsburgh Steelers active roster as of Thursday, June 7, 2018 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is greeted by young fans as he takes to the practice field during NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa., Thursday, July 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster catches a pass for a first down during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) tries to fend off Carolina Panthers free safety Mike Adams (29) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) can't make the catch against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) celebrates with fans after scoring a touchdown on a pass reception in the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
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Smith-Schuster's comments Thursday came from a discussion about how the Steelers can back on track, after they missed the playoffs and snapped a streak of four consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins.

"For me, personally, let's focus on the main goal: win a Super Bowl," Smith-Schuster said.

In his second season, Smith-Schuster finished with 111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns, garnering team MVP honors and reaching his first Pro Bowl.

--Field Level Media

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