We're on to the next phase of the "scrubbing social media of all references to a team" story with Pittsburgh Steelers receiver George Pickens: the awkward excuses nobody believes.
A day after last week's win over the Tennessee Titans, in which Pickens had minus-2 yards receiving, Pickens removed all references to the Steelers from his Instagram profile and appeared to unfollow some teammates and coaches.
On Wednesday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin completely blew off Pickens' apparent social media tantrum, and one has to wonder if someone tried to tell Pickens that being upset after a win isn't the best look. Because Thursday, he clumsily tried to explain what happened and said it had nothing to do with his being upset at his lack of catches in the game.
According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, when Pickens met with reporters Thursday, he said he was just hiding some Steelers posts on his Instagram because he was “clearing out his page.”
“It’s got nothing to do with the Steelers at all," Pickens said, via Pryor.
OK. And on the issue of Pickens not appearing too happy when teammate Diontae Johnson scored a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute, Pickens said he was just heading back to the sideline. That's totally believable.
“His touchdown engineered the victory, so I don’t know how I could be mad at that," Pickens said.
Steelers WR George Pickens said he hid Steelers posts from his IG grid on Friday because he was “clearing out his page.”
“It’s got nothing to do with the Steelers at all.”
And despite what cameras showed, he wasn’t frustrated after Diontae Johnson’s TD.
“His touchdown… pic.twitter.com/CIHH9CgTfA
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 8, 2023
Pickens was also asked if he was upset, and he gave an unconvincing "Oh, nah."
Steelers WR George Pickens: pic.twitter.com/geX9PcRHMt
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) November 8, 2023
Pickens is a young player, and he might have learned a lesson. Maybe he really was just cleaning up his Instagram, but doing so after having negative yards in a prime-time game will draw attention. Perhaps he was really just returning to the sideline when his teammate caught a huge touchdown, but he might want to celebrate next time.
No matter what really happened, it's probably safe to say it won't happen again.