UPDATE (9:24 PM): Sometime over the last hour, Pickens has put up a handful of the photos he took down earlier, most of which feature him in a Steelers’ uniform.
Our original story is below.
Despite the win, it was clear Pittsburgh Steelers WR George Pickens was frustrated throughout Thursday night’s game against the Tennessee Titans. Held to two catches for negative one yard and a missed opportunity for a touchdown, unable to get his left foot inbounds, Pickens looked upset during the game.
Less than 24 hours later, he’s essentially scrubbed his Instagram page. Go to his page now and there’s only one post remaining with all other photos, including all of his as a Steeler, deleted.
The only one left is a compilation of highlights from his time at Georgia that was posted in April 2020. He’s also not following the account of Steelers QB Kenny Pickett, though it’s unclear if he ever was in the first place.
It is worth pointing out that Pickens’ bio has not changed. It is the same as it was months ago and never included a reference to the Steelers.
Pickens also has a handful of Instagram stories that allude to his unhappiness. One post, shown above, has the words “Free Me” in small font in the bottom right corner (it’s now been deleted from his IG story). His next story is captioned with the phrase “stay away from me.”
Reading into a player’s social media activity can be difficult and dangerous to do, often leading to the wrong interpretation. But in recent years, players have used social media to send messages and express their frustration over situations, often contract-related, to get their point across. And it’s clear Pickens has been frustrated the last two weeks, especially last night, after hardly being involved in the offense. Instead, WR Diontae Johnson saw most of the team’s targets, finishing with seven catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. After the game, QB Kenny Pickett credited Pickens for still helping the offense, chipping in as a blocker and commanding double-teams that helped open up the running game.
Appearing on 93.7 The Fan, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly said Pickens made a quick exit after yesterday’s game and did not meet with the media.
“By far, the first person that left the field yesterday, in the locker room, and out the door,” Kaboly told The Fan. “He didn’t want nothing to do with talking to anybody. He was not happy. I was told by people on the sidelines, after the touchdown, he didn’t really interact with anybody. He sat on the bench, head in his hands, sulking…Matt Canada a couple of times trying to console him on the bench.”
Overall, Pickens has had a productive sophomore NFL season. He leads the team in receptions (30), yards (521) and touchdowns (three) as his game has become more well-rounded. But over the past two weeks, he has only three catches for 21 yards as the passing game has gone through other players, primarily Johnson. Against the Titans, he was targeted five times. Pickett missed Pickens on a wide-open crosser for a third-down conversion and later in the game, Pickett couldn’t get his left foot down for a would-be touchdown.
The good news is Pittsburgh is winning. That helps cure the ills this team has and can hopefully lessen Pickens’ frustration. It’s not the first time there’s been a story about his Instagram account, Pickens denying in September that he liked a post critical of Pickett. A mini bye week should give him time to clear his head and reset. While there will be better days ahead for Pickens, it’s clear he’s frustrated by a tough couple of games for him personally.