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J.J. Watt Considered Coming Out of Retirement to Play for Steelers



Pittsburgh Steelers J.J. Watt
J.J. Watt of CBS Sports on the field before the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 8, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Former NFL defensive lineman J.J. Watt said he was monitoring the Pittsburgh Steelers injury situation in 2023 and considering a return from retirement, he said Wednesday in an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show.

Watt, the older brother of Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt, said that he is fully retired now, after having last played in the 2022 season with the Arizona Cardinals, but that he was interested enough to stay abreast of the situations with the Steelers and his former team the Houston Texans last year.

“I definitely was monitoring the Steelers and Texans situations, but it never escalated to any sort of actual potential,” Watt said. “It would have been an absolute dream come true. To play with my brother would have been great. It’s just, realistically … They were all set. They’ve got great players.

Watt said that his desire to play would have been tied to both the team looking like it could potentially win a championship, and his ability to make an impact and bring something significant to the table.

“It was something where if I could bring something that would help propel somebody to a potential Super Bowl situation, where you’d fill in a need and it’s something that could take them to a new level, absolutely,” he said. “But just to do it would have been ridiculous.”

Watt said he missed the game the most when he came to Pittsburgh for a game last season, and watched from the stands.

“When I went to Pittsburgh and visited T.J. and watched him get ready for the game, that was hands down the moment, where I was like, ‘This is the first time I definitely miss playing,’” J.J. Watt said. “It was halfway through the year. … I felt all those emotions before the game, and then the next morning, he woke up all sore, bruised up, has to go get treatment and everything. I popped up, went for a nice walk and had a coffee. It was great. I don’t have any of those things.”

The Steelers going on a losing streak after his visit ended any thoughts he had of picking up the phone and trying to play for Mike Tomlin.

“After that, I think they rattled off three losses in a row,” he said. “If they had rattled off three wins in a row, all of a sudden, the conversation is just a little bit different.”

Now, Watt says he has put to bed any idea of coming back, even though he acknowledges that it would be a dream come true to play alongside his brother. T.J. and Derek Watt got to play together with the Steelers, and even played against J.J.’s Texans, but the oldest Watt never played alongside his brothers in the pros.

“No, you don’t take a year off and go back,” he said. “I’m 1,000% done. You can miss something and not want to do it again.”