Steelers’ defensive end T.J. Watt could find himself in hot water for a completely unnecessary reason. Watt appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday to talk about his pursuit of the single-season sack record, when he revealed he used his cell phone in the locker room during halftime.
#Steelers LB T.J. Watt admitted on the @dpshow that he used his cellphone during halftime of the #Ravens games in hopes to find out if he broke the single season sack record.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 19, 2022
According to league rules, that is prohibited.pic.twitter.com/SWTBP0BV0A
Everything centered on a play in the first half of Steelers vs. Ravens on January 9th when Tyler Hundley went to ground and was tagged by Watt. Initially the play was ruled a sack, before it was reversed. This gave Watt one sack in the first half, and he was unable to get a second to break the record.
Watt was told by coaches he was sitting at two sacks, but he learned in a group chat with his brother that the official game stats showed him sitting at one.
Now, all this is innocuous enough. The most logical reason, curiosity, is probably the correct one. However, all of this is just really odd. It’s wholly bizarre that nobody on the Steelers could offer Watt this information without him using his phone. There wasn’t a coach, or an assistant, or even a social media person there to say “yes, you broke the sack record” or “no, you didn’t.”
And if you want to go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy, as is the style right now, we see that a player using their phone can be really, really problematic. The NFL has these rules in place for a number of reasons — all of which are fairly obvious. A player could be getting inside information about the other team from a broadcast, they could receive coaching from outside the team, or even, perish the though, talking to a bookie about a game’s odds and player stats.
So while it’s fairly clear Watt didn’t mean to do anything wrong, unless you want to look at him in the worst possible light, he did absolutely break NFL rules by using his cell phone at half time. It’s a particularly bad look in a game that ended in overtime and resulted in the Steelers making the playoffs over the Chargers.
It’s going to be interesting to see if the NFL takes any action against Watt, or lets this one slide.