ABBOTSFORD (NEWS 1130) — It’s more than 4,000 kilometres from Pittsburgh, but football fans in Abbotsford were rooting for the Steelers this playoff season.
The NFL team was eliminated on Sunday, marking an end to a standout rookie season for Abbotsford-born Chase Claypool. The Steelers fell 48 – 37 to the Cleveland Browns.
“I have not actually met with him. I hope someday I can do that.”@MayorHenryBraun says there’s been a buzz around Abbotsford for @Steelers games. Both Braun and @ChaseClaypool are graduates from Abby Senior, although decades apart. Claypool turns 23 this year.
— Tim James (@_TimJames) January 12, 2021
Mayor Henry Braun was watching — just like he has been all season, just like he will be next year.
“I’ve been proud since the day he got drafted,” he says.
“They’ve had a good team and Chase has had an extraordinary rookie season. They’ll be back. I think they’re a tough team, they’ve got some good young talent and Chase is one of them. I think we’ll hear much more about him. I’ll be cheering for them next year.”
In November, Claypool made history — becoming the first NFL rookie wide receiver in the Super Bowl era to score 10 touchdowns in his first 10 games.
Braun says the city’s been buzzing on game days.
“There’s a good vibe in Abbotsford, I hear people talking in the coffee shop and I’m talking to people too.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 22, 2020
Braun played football at and graduated from Abbotsford Secondary School, where Claypool also played.
Students there and young players throughout the city have been inspired by what Claypool has accomplished.
“Even from Abbotsford you can rise to become a firststringer on an NFL team. I think there will be a lot of young men out there who want to emulate what he is doing and has achieved, so he’s a role model even though it’s at a distance,” Braun says.
Claypool was selected in the second round, 49th overall.
Braun hasn’t met Claypool, although he came close before the pandemic struck. He says he has a reputation as being a grounded, disciplined, hardworking player person with a close connection to his family — all things Braun says will undoubtedly serve him well in the world of pro sports.
— Pantherfootball (@AbbyPanthers) September 15, 2020
In his NFL debut, Claypool paid tribute to his friend and former Abbotsford Panthers teammate Samwel Uko, who died by suicide after being turned away from a hospital in Saskatchewan earlier this year.
Uko helped the team from Abbottsford Secondary reach the provincial AA football championship game twice while in high school. The first time was in 2015, when he played with Claypool.
Claypool wrote Uko’s name on the wrist tape he wore in that game, posting a photo saying “All season for you lil brother.’
“The best high school football player I’ve ever played with/against and an even better kid. Miss you, brother. The system failed you,” Claypool wrote on Twitter.