CINCINNATI -- There really was no way Tyler Boyd would be able to avoid the question, so it was probably wise to just go on and get his answer out of the way.
As a Pittsburgh-area native and a former standout at Pitt, did you ever root for the Steelers?
"I definitely rooted for the Steelers," the new Cincinnati Bengals receiver said during a conference call Friday night. "That's my hometown team. But at the end of the day, I'm going to sacrifice myself for the team who picked me and who would rather have me."
It's those last two sentences Bengals fans should probably pay the most attention to. Oh, and probably this one, too:
"So you know I'm going to have to completely throw out all the Steelers [stuff] and cause them all hell."
Yep, Boyd has traded in his Terrible Towel and Hines Ward jersey for an orange-and-black-striped helmet. And as Cincinnati's second-round pick, he couldn't be prouder of that.
"I'm going to do everything I can to continue to beat the Steelers," Boyd said.
There's little need for a reminder about how tense things have been between the Bengals and Steelers recently. The teams, fan bases and cities already didn't like each other. But across the past three seasons, the animosity has risen because of a series of devastating, injury-inducing hits and games that have determined both teams' postseason fates. Pittsburgh booted Cincinnati out of January's playoffs following a drama-filled, wild-card round finish that featured a costly Bengals turnover and a pair of pivotal penalties.
One of the players who received those penalties, linebacker Vontaze Burfict, was suspended the first three games next season in part for a hit that gave Steelers receiver Antonio Brown a concussion that cost him a chance to play in Pittsburgh's divisional round game at Denver. As a result, Burfict will miss the teams' Week 2 meeting in Pittsburgh.
Boyd won't, though. That will be his first game back home.
"Some of my family members, some of my friends are Steelers fans," said Boyd, who had some pre-draft conversations with Pittsburgh, "but at the end of the day, they're going to root for me and cheer for me and hope for the best."