The Abbotsford native exploded onto the NFL scene as a rookie with the Steelers, leading all first-year players this year with nine receiving touchdowns and helping Pittsburgh win their division title. He became the first wide receiver since 1960, and only the fourth in league history, to score 10 touchdowns in his first 10 games. After just one professional season, the man lovingly nicknamed Mapletron has established himself as the figurehead for modern Canadian football and his highlight-reel plays just earned him a partnership with Jordan Brand.
Claypool has a fresh perspective as he is exiting year one and looking towards year two. He caught up with Complex Canada from his B.C. home to share his thoughts on Super Bowl LV, what he learned this season, how he expresses himself off the field, and much more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Who do you think is going to win Super Bowl LV and what aspect of the game are you most looking forward to?
I keep saying to all of my friends that I think the Chiefs are going to win but I think the Bucs are going to make it obviously pretty tough. I don’t think [Tom] Brady has ever really been blown out in a Super Bowl. I am looking forward to see how he performs.
If you had your choice, would you rather catch passes from Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady?
Probably Tom Brady because of the resume that he built for himself. He only has a few years [left]. Maybe I can catch passes from Tom Brady and then Patrick Mahomes as well down the road. Because I know Patrick Mahomes is going to have a long career.
“I think it’s nice knowing that Canadians can look at you maybe as a little beacon of hope. Because, you know, growing up, we didn’t really have a Canadian to watch ... It was always, ‘Oh, the Americans. Look at all these Americans killing it.’”
You’re partnering this week with DAZN for the Super Bowl. The platform has made it so easy for Canadians to watch all of this NFL content, including games. How does that compare to when you were growing up north of the border and trying to catch NFL games on TV?
I definitely remember a few times where there is a pretty big game that we couldn’t find anywhere or we had to go to a bar … and sit at a table where kids were allowed to go to watch the game. It’s definitely nice that I’m in this partnership with DAZN where they are offering this NFL content to friends and family back in Canada and making it easy for Canadians to watch.
We have a Canadian in The Weeknd performing at halftime. Any specific songs of his you are hoping he performs?
No songs in particular, but maybe a little Drake appearance. Get the double Canadian love out there.
When you think back on your first season in the NFL, what is going to be the thing you remember the most?
I just think the obstacles that we had to get through to play the season. I think this season is going to be the hardest in terms of locking yourself down in your own house and going to work and then just going home. Compared to these years upcoming, I think it’s going to seem a lot easier in terms of responsibilities in that sense. Just like making sure you can’t really see family or anything. Now, I’m going to hopefully be able to see family next year.
Also, just the experiences I’ve got with my teammates. Understand that they might not be there the next year, so just enjoying that.
Having been through that experience now, is there anything you know you need to do differently in year two and beyond?
I was always trying to get on the track of taking care of my body and asking the veterans what they do to take care of their bodies. Now that I have a good understanding of what it takes to keep your body in tiptop shape, I’m just going to be doing that earlier. I kind of started doing that midway through the season where I probably should have started that earlier.
What are your plans for this offseason? Do you expect to spend a lot of time in Canada?
Yeah. I’ve been here [in B.C.] for about a month now. I’m going to be here for like three more weeks and I’m going to start training here as soon as the Super Bowl is done. I will be going to California right when my three weeks here is done and I’ll be training there. I’ll be travelling to Houston to train, meet up with [Eric] Ebron (Pittsburgh Steelers tight end). Go to Florida to train, meet up with a couple former teammates [like] Miles Boykin (Baltimore Ravens wide receiver) and then see Diontae Johnson (Steelers wide receiver) and stuff like that. I’ve got some stuff planned but just a lot of training I would say.
What does it mean to you to set an example for young Canadian football players? If you look back at the history of Canadians in the NFL, there has never really been a wide receiver like you making that big of an impact at the highest level.
I think it’s nice knowing that Canadians can look at you maybe as a little beacon of hope. Because, you know, growing up, we didn’t really have a Canadian to watch, like you said. It was always, “Oh, the Americans. Look at all these Americans killing it.” I’m hoping to be that Canadian that can shed some light on the fact that it is possible to play in the league.
“Growing up, I always saved money to buy some fake Jordans. So, the fact that I’m going to be sent them from the company itself, is pretty cool.”
Looking back, would you tell your high school self to do anything different regarding the path you took to get to the NFL?
I don’t think so. I think I’m pretty happy with the things I had to go through to get here. I think it shaped me pretty well. I think I have enjoyed my experiences coming up to this point. I would just remind myself to enjoy life right now and the blessings that I have been rewarded with.
You recently signed a deal with Jordan Brand. What is it like being told that you are the type of player and person that Jordan Brand wants to be represented by?
I think it’s super cool, because they have a super limited roster [of sponsored football players]. They are very selective of their guys and they rarely get rookies. The fact that they picked me—being a rookie—to represent them is a blessing in itself. I’m excited to do some pretty big things with them. Growing up, I always saved money to buy some fake Jordans. So, the fact that I’m going to be sent them from the company itself, is pretty cool.
I know that you like to be very active off the field in different areas. Between streaming on Twitch, your YouTube channel, various media involvements like with DAZN, what interests you about expressing yourself in so many different ways?
I think I’m on this platform and this pedestal in terms of the NFL and feel like it would be silly not to fully utilize it. I want people to know who I am as a person, not just a football player. Because they see me every Sunday on the football field, but they don’t see … what it’s like the other six days of the week.
I see that fashion-wise, you like to mix it up a little bit with your gameday fits and that BlitzFits ranked you among the top rookies for that. How would you describe your sense of style?
I teamed up with my friend from just down the street here (B.C.’s Joe Kuma). We put together some pretty good fits. I just think it’s another way to express yourself outside of the football field. What you wear, your style, I think can say a lot about yourself.
You were speaking about the different things you are going to do to train better and treat your body better this season. Seeing Tom Brady make it to another Super Bowl this year at age 43, does that get you thinking at all about what you’re going to have to do to have a lengthy career?
Yeah definitely. I think seeing how long he has played and hearing about just how much he takes care of his body just reemphasizes and reinforces what I already thought. The best ability is availability. Just being able to stay healthy … Obviously some injuries are going to come about that you can’t control, but trying to prevent those injuries as much as we can.
If we talk a year from now. What is the story of Chase Claypool going to be following the 2021 season?
I just think it’s going to be a big improvement from the previous year and making an impact as hopefully a top receiver in the NFL. Showing the maturity and the growth that has come following year one.