PITTSBURGH -- JuJu Smith-Schuster is still adjusting to the latest addition to Team JuJu.
"It's cool, man -- it's weird because she's my mom, but she also does business with me," the Pittsburgh Steelers receiver said.
Managing a budding NFL star with a mushrooming social media profile is a big job, and mom Sammy Schuster wanted to help.
Smith-Schuster is a client of Roc Nation, working closely with agent Kim Miale and manager Jisset Pena. Coming off a rookie year of almost 1,000 yards, seven touchdowns and well-rehearsed touchdown celebrations, Smith-Schuster and his mother discussed expanding his profile and increasing her role.
Things were moving, after all. His social audience had grown with lighthearted side stories about retrieving a stolen bike, cooking at home and getting his driver's license. This year, Smith-Schuster is fifth in receiving yards through two games (240) and has the eighth-best-selling jersey, according to Dick's Sporting Goods.
Smith-Schuster has deals with Call of Duty, Pizza Hut, Adidas, New Era and more. His YouTube channel has more than 550,000 subscribers.
Smith-Schuster said duties for his mother -- or "Momager," as Sammy jokingly calls her role -- include handling his money and his schedule. But the two also have a common goal when it comes to his brand: meet business with authenticity.
For example, they felt the Call of Duty deal was important to both of them because of Smith-Schuster's avid gaming. Smith-Schuster finalized that deal this year.
"He’s a very marketable person," Sammy said of her son. "He’s down to earth, everyone can relate to him. So with making people understand JuJu, the man outside of football, he just gave us his vision: it has to be authentic, it has to be JuJu."
Behind Smith-Schuster's playful exuberance is an eager brand opportunist. On social media, Smith-Schuster said he's more focused on YouTube videos because he can tell personalized stories at length, like hanging out with fans at a local Pittsburgh amusement park or delivering pizzas.
Smith-Schuster will discuss such ideas with his mom because of the trust they've developed over the years. And Smith-Schuster isn't the first NFL player to utilize his mother in business affairs. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was represented by his mother during the draft process.
"I just thought it was best for me. I think it's good for a lot of people to have their mom help," Smith-Schuster said. "It's something like if it's business to discuss, we'll talk about business. But the majority of the time it's my mom. She'll tell me what's right and what's wrong. She always knows what's best."
On the personal side, Sammy will speak up if Smith-Schuster goes too far on social media or question the occasional purchase. She recently told him, "Dude, you don't need two cars," after he got a Tesla SUV and a Polaris Slingshot in the same year.
Sammy makes clear she has no formal marketing experience, but as a mother of eight children, she has plenty of life experience.
"I don't put a title on myself. I’m just mom looking out for my son," Sammy said. "I make sure things get done when they are supposed to get done, contractors sent in when needed, things are paid when needed, whatever we promise is done. I just oversee all of that."
Smith-Schuster always seems to be dancing or working a camera lens. But Sammy makes clear her son is a "business man," and he knows what's good for business.
"The main part is being known on the field," Smith-Schuster said. "The rest will take care of itself."