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Steelers' TJ Watt responds to JJ Watt 'pulling a Gronk'

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Steelers win TJ Watt gets excited for a game.

The big news as the 2022 NFL regular season draws to a close, beyond the playoffs, is the retirement announcement by future Hall of Famer JJ Watt.

As the news broke – Dec. 27 – Watt’s younger brother and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker TJ Watt was at a loss for words. Instead, he subtweeted a teary-eyed Michael Scott from “The Office” GIF.

TJ spoke for the first time about his brother’s impending retirement a few days later during a press conference on December 30th.

“He has been talking about it for a while. I never knew how serious he was until the last few months,” Watt said. “Super proud and happy for him, excited to see him play the last two weeks. A hell of a career.

But the question on every Steelers fan’s mind was whether JJ would come to Pittsburgh to join his younger brothers. Specifically, the reporter asked, “Is he going to play Gronk and come out of retirement to reunite with you at some point?”

TJ said, laughing, “You’d have to ask him that.”

Him not say no.

For years, whenever he hit free agency, Steelers fans clamored for JJ Watt to join TJ in Pittsburgh.

The “Gronk” reference came from Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, who famously came out of retirement to reunite with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay in 2020. The pair won a fourth Super Bowl together in 2021 before Gronk retired for one. second, and what appears to be final, time.

TJ Watt may yet achieve JJ Watt status

TJ Watt still has many seasons to go before achieving JJ Watt status, as the youngest Watt has been in the league exactly half as long as JJ

TJ is on his way, though, with three first-team All-Pro nominations and five Pro Bowls. He led the NFL the last two seasons, finally reaching his peak last season, tying 22.5 sacks (Michael Strahan) in a single season, which helped earn him his first Defensive Player of the Year nomination for 2021.

The elder Watt will retire after 12 seasons as a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. He was drafted 11th overall by the Houston Texans in 2011 and headed west for the Arizona Cardinals in 2021. At the end of his professional career, on Sunday, January 8, Watt will have recorded just north of 110.0 sacks, 580 tackles in total, 191 tackles for loss, 313 hits at quarterback, and 69 passes defensed. He also has two interceptions, both for touchdowns.

After a solid rookie season, Watt collapsed from 2012 to 2015, recording 69 sacks, 315 total tackles, and 119 tackles for loss. In two seasons, he was the NFL leader in sacks (2012, 2105) and a three-time leader in tackles for loss. These performances earned him four consecutive first-team All-Pro nominations and three Defensive Player of the Year awards. DPOY has been awarded three times to just two other players: Lawrence Taylor and Aaron Donald.

But who’s counting? Probably the Watt brothers. Like most siblings – especially jocks – they have a strong competitive spirit.

The Watt Brothers at Heinz Field

In 2020, JJ, Derek and TJ Watt hit the football field for the first time in their professional careers. Derek played JJ and TJ against JJ but never had all three.

Per NFL on CBS, they became only the second group of brothers since the 1930s to appear in the same NFL game. Interestingly, the first set also involved the Steelers. Safety Terrell Edmunds and his running back brother Trey played together in Pittsburgh. In 2019 they faced their brother Tremaine when the Steelers faced the Bills.

Although it looks like when JJ Watt officially retires, it will be for good. But as Brett Favre, Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady taught us, never say never.