Dunlap: The Face of the Steelers

Colin Dunlap
September 20, 2018 - 7:31 am
James Conner & JuJu Smith-Schuster

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- It is one of those age-old hypotheticals: Who is the face of the franchise? 

And it is a question that's extended to this: If you were to buy the jersey of a current player, which player would it be? 

Both, I think, are interesting questions right now as they pertain to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Think of it in the immediate; not for five years down the road or for legacy sake, but for right now. 

Not long ago, I think it might have been a no-brainer. That huge, beaming smile made Antonio Brown a fan favorite and the unquestioned face of the club. His jersey flew off shelves and everyone wanted to align themselves with AB. 

Business was boomin' for him --- heck, I know my kids each have an Antonio Brown jersey. 

But through the recent tumult and seemingly a bit of a change in personality where a bit more of a selfish side of AB has come out, is he still "that guy" for the Pittsburgh Steelers? Is Antonio Brown still the face? Is he still the player who has that jersey you want? My inclination is that the answer is "yes" for most of you. 

Or, perhaps, is it James Conner now? I mean, we all know his story and his story is wonderful. He's the cancer survivor who has provided inspiration for so many and also swept in when Le'Veon Bell --- for sure NOT the face of the franchise --- decided to go AWOL. 

If it isn't Conner, is JuJu that face? The fun-loving, all-over-social-media guy has really connected with a younger portion of the Steelers fan base and perhaps he's who you hang your hat on in marketing campaigns. 

Is it T.J. Watt or Jesse James? Maybe it is Alejandro Villanueva, the man who so many service men and women --- and just general citizens --- look at as the real kind of hero the Pittsburgh Steelers need. 

As always, there is the quarterback. He stands tallest on just about any football team. Is Ben Roethlisberger (as he once was) still the strongest brand on this football team? Is the No. 7 jersey the one you want and is Big Ben the face you think of when you think of the Pittsburgh Steelers? 

From a talent standpoint, certainly it could be Cameron Heyward or Stephon Tuitt, but those guys down in the defensive trenches normally don't play a sexy enough of a position to rise to the forefront of being a face of a franchise. 

I'll tell you for sure it isn't a guy like Artie Burns. I know that much. 

So, just something to knock around as we have to wait all the way until Monday Night Football for the Steelers to play and maybe give you a break from all the drama talk: right now, who is that face of the franchise? Is it still AB? Even through all this? Have one of the young bucks bumped him off? Or is it maybe someone else? 

For me, I'd probably have to go with James Conner, but it's quite interesting that the face of a franchise right now could be a guy who has exactly two career starts. 


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