Canadian Chase Claypool, Steelers using Spikeball to build team camaraderie

Photo courtesy: Justin Gilbert/Pittsburgh Steelers

The game of choice inside the Steelers locker room is Spikeball.

Canadian Chase Claypool pulled the Steel Curtain back to reveal the favourite camaraderie-building competition behind the scenes at Heinz Field.

“We’re able to play Spikeball. That’s our best social distance game that we can play. We play Spikeball and everyone in the locker room watches and cheers on a side,” Claypool said during a video conference.

“We try to figure out things to do that’s along the guidelines, but we can compete against each other and have fun and joke around with each other. Spikeball has been a pretty big thing.”

The Steelers have spiked their first ten opponents this year on the way to a perfect 10-0 record through 11 weeks of the 2020 NFL season. Due to COVID-19, the players can’t congregate for bonding activities away from the team facility. However, the athletes have adapted and found different options for bringing the team closer together.

“The brotherhood on this team is different than any one in the league, and I can say that confidently. It’s a unique experience and memories that we won’t forget,” Claypool said.

“When you’re going 10-0 you want to be able to enjoy every minute of the season.”

Photo courtesy: Justin Gilbert/Pittsburgh Steelers

Claypool has certainly enjoyed a fast rise to stardom in his rookie year. The Canadian is the first receiver in the Super Bowl era to score ten total touchdowns in his first ten games. Developing a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger has helped Claypool be highly productive.

“You never really are able to picture something like this. I expected to have success in the career just based off training, and how I felt about myself and my preparation. I definitely thought the transition would’ve been a little bit longer,” Claypool said.

“Watching game film and looking at corners in the league and their measurables, I knew I was going to measure up physically. If I’m comparing anything, it’s team records, and that speaks louder than stats in my opinion.”

The six-foot-four, 238-pound pass catcher has made 39 receptions for 559 yards and eight touchdowns through ten career games. He has also recorded nine rushes for 22 yards and two scores. Every time Claypool has scored, Roethlisberger has passed or handed him the football and the 22-year-old was surprised to learn Big Ben has never received an NFL MVP vote.

“Especially being around him throughout the season and how special it’s been, a lot of that credit goes to him and what he’s done for the offence,” Claypool said.

Roethlisberger has been setting Claypool up for spikes in the end zone. The Ravens will try to keep the Canadian from celebrating on American Thanksgiving during the prime time match-up on Thanksgiving Thursday in the United States.

“Definitely exciting to play on Thanksgiving,” Claypool said. “The Ravens are showing respect. I won’t be able to sneak by them.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.