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A Letter From the Editor: Why is Kenny Pickett so polarizing?

Kenny Pickett has never done anything even remotely controversial since he entered the 2022 NFL Draft.

No crazy social media posts.

No questionable behavior off the field.

No teammates talking poorly about his character or work ethic.

All you ever hear are the positives for the former Pitt Panther turned Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback. So, why is he such a polarizing figure across the sports landscape? Why do Steelers fans feel the need to stand on a soap box and declare either their defense, or hatred, towards the signal caller?

There are a lot of layers to this, but let me first say his play on the field this season has sparked a new level of criticism from fans everywhere. Just as Bill Parcells said, “You are what your record says you are.” the same can be said for quarterbacks. You are how you play on a week-to-week basis. And, if you’re being honest, Pickett hasn’t been good as of late.

Sure, there are those 4th quarter heroics, but there are also high school level throws which aren’t being completed. Times when the offense goes to sleep for nearly an entire half of football. While the late-game play is more than appreciated, what fans long to see is play which reminds them of a franchise quarterback, not a middling back-up who is getting his shot to start.

But play on the field isn’t the only thing which has fans forging a strong opinion of the second year player. A lot of fans formed an opinion of Pickett pre-draft in 2022, and what they saw wasn’t anything they liked.

Small hands.

Too old.

Lacks arm talent.

Anyone who pays attention to the NFL Draft heard all the misnomers surrounding Pickett’s game, and why he wasn’t a 1st Round talent. While he might have been the cream of that quarterback class, it doesn’t say much when it was known as one of the worst quarterback classes of late.

People who developed that opinion of Pickett back in 2022 likely still hold that opinion of him in 2023. In his rookie season those opinions were kept quiet, in some instances, as he was able to navigate the Steelers through the second half of the season and finding ways to win. With expectations high in 2023, anyone who has watched the Steelers knows they’ve fallen short of those expectations in a big way.

All those who had a mid-round grade on Pickett are now declaring from the rooftops how they were right, and anyone who believed he was “the guy” were wrong. Fans’ desire to be right, over the success of the Steelers, is very confusing to me, but this is where much of the polarization of Pickett stems from.

If you want to dive even deeper, you can see a very clear pro-Pitt and anti-Pitt bias which also has fans rearing their heads one way or another depending on how Pickett plays.

What I can’t seem to wrap my head around throughout all of this is how Pickett hasn’t done anything outside of doing his best. Has his best been good enough? Not even close. Have we seen his best? I honestly don’t think we have, but not everyone can live up their potential for multiple reasons.

Pro-Pickett fans will declare the offensive scheme and coordinator as the reason for him not playing to his 1st Round status.

Those against Pickett will say it doesn’t matter, because he simply doesn’t have “it”.

As for me, I just want the Steelers to succeed. I want the team to win. If Pickett is the guy, that’s fantastic! I’d love nothing more than for him to turn the proverbial corner and start playing a better brand of football. If he isn’t the guy, that would certainly set the Steelers back, but the search for a new signal caller would begin.

Either way you slice it, Pickett is as polarizing as they come, and it has nothing to do with him as an individual.

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