With his playing days on the gridiron behind him, J.J. Watt is diving head first into life after football.
Since hanging up his cleats in January after 12 seasons in the NFL, the three-time defensive player of the year has been enjoying retirement while getting to spend more time with wife Kealia Ohai Watt and their young son.
The former University of Wisconsin football standout recently found himself in a place familiar to those with a family — sitting in a Walmart parking lot waiting on his spouse to "grab a couple things."
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Like many husbands before him, Watt used the extra time to do some deep thinking. And while he's not the first to wonder about the college football landscape, his choices could carry a little more weight in the competitive Big Ten Conference.
In a video posted to social media on Wednesday afternoon, Watt asked viewers to share their takes on alumni passing on their knowledge and experience not just to those at their former programs, but also to those in direct competition.
"I went to school at Wisconsin, over the years I've been asked to speak at different teams, professional, college, whatever it may be," Watt said. "But I've never been asked to speak to a team in my own conference."
He said he had multiple Big Ten coaches outside of UW who reached out on Wednesday about him speaking to their players, Watt asked his viewers what they thought about his opportunity to share his wisdom with those outside the Badgers program.
Watch the video and check out some of the best responses below:
Fascinated to hear some opinions on this…— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 29, 2023
Do you help out your alma mater’s rivals?
Is the connection to the coach or the school stronger? pic.twitter.com/h36nixDF9e
Timing is key
As long as it’s not the week that the rival team is playing your alma mater, I think you’re golden!— Justin Reid (@JustinqReid) March 29, 2023
Knowledge comes first
I say yes. In the end it’s not about schools but about the kids and their development.— Dan Go (@FitFounder) March 29, 2023
Can't keep it to yourself
Give ‘em the advice … they look up to you and you’ve been where they want to be !! Your knowledge and experience are invaluable!! Forget the conference interference! You da man !— Dan Plesac (@Plesac19) March 29, 2023
It's all one big 'family'
✅ Football “family” is one of the world’s few instances where we can battle and bleed on the field (some fans in the stands 😂)…yet, manage to put preferences aside to advocate for our sporting community. Besides, GOATS get a pass. On Wisconsin! @NickEvers12— Monica Evers (@MonicaEvers1) March 29, 2023
Stay quiet on gameday
You're the next level up. The wise sage who has been there and done that. Help the next generation regardless. Doesn't mean you have to cheer for them on game day! :)— Ed Sullivan (@Ed_Sullivan) March 30, 2023
Leave a lasting impact
Blessed to have the talent, mindset and opportunity to speak and help the next generation…absolutely take it. Never met you, but could imagine what it would mean to even that one athlete you have an effect on. Keep representing the Midwest!— Mark Knudsen (@KnudyNudes) March 30, 2023
Bigger than the game
Remain neutral - bigger picture - student athletes want your advice and to glean your wisdom. Same conference doesn’t matter.— Mark Martiak🇺🇦 (@mark_martiak) March 30, 2023
Life lessons transcend sport
You’ve got so much knowledge to share outside of football. Real life etc. Follow your heart, but giving advice about the game and inspiring some young dudes definitely won’t cause a W or an L between teams. Hope you come back to the B1G to coach/speak at any school. ✌️— Mark Whitsitt 🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@markwhitsitt2) March 29, 2023
Think about the students
If you can help the student athletes anywhere, do it. They are more than school or coach, they need you more than school or coach. (In my case, however, my alma mater would love for me to work with their rivals, nobody gonna ask.) Do it for the student athletes, my man.— Jeff Briggs (@regulater9) March 30, 2023
Share the wealth
The fact they are rivals matters less to me than then honoring the relationships you have with coaches. And just be sure to bring some of that wisdom to our Badgers too. #dbwh #onwisconsin— Doug Barton (@bartond) March 30, 2023
Play the long game
100% do it. So much of your journey has been marked by helping others get better. As you mentioned, you're helping them get better as people (and possibly on field)...and for 60 years not just one game or season.— Nathan Whitaker (@NathanWhitaker) March 30, 2023
Show them how it's done
As an @UWMadison alumnus I would encourage you to speak to the other teams. This is both a way for you to mentor others and to show what kind of talented, classy players we have on @UWBadgers teams.— KNat 🧩👩🏻🦰👩🍳👩🏫🏎️🏈🏀 (@NatoliKaren) March 30, 2023
Well, it depends
As long as it’s not Minnesota, Illinois or Iowa, go for it.— Wisconsin Nation (@Wisco___Nation) March 29, 2023
All in good time
I think you are far enough removed from your college days to speak wherever you can, but always bring it back to be proud of who they are and where they came from. As an alum, you reflect your university and it’s okay to do that on a rival’s campus.— Ashley 🌵 (@cursivea) March 30, 2023
March 29, 2023
Focus off the field
I think being as successful as you have been on and off the field if possible you could help some of these young guys out to not only be better players but better people. Just add that you hope they lose to the badgers at the end lol. But you could have the chance to help them— adam ivy (@adamivy1) March 30, 2023
It goes beyond sports
You’ve always seemed to focus on the pureness of impacting people - regardless of their social, economic, where they’re from, etc. Keep doing that! Your legacy in this life is > than ur football career. Outside of your family, it’ll be the 1K’s of ppl whose life you’ve impacted— Billy Fitzgerald (@bfitzgeraldco) March 29, 2023
Nothing to lose
I think it would be a boost to your alma mater that their rivals are asking specifically for you. What better way to do them proud?! On top of that, you are doing what you love to do which is be a great role model and mentor. It’s a win-win, JJ!— Okatalina (@katerinapmj) March 29, 2023
Savor the moment
The professional advice is more important than any conference rivalry. I'd show up to give the talk and infuse it with humor – some good natured heckling. Those connections are bigger than allegiance to an alma mater but you can definitely have some fun with it.— Michelle Cronk, MA, APR (@MCronk_KC) March 29, 2023
Backed by fellow Badgers
Im a badger fan through and through, and if you are willing to do it... 100 percent do it. Its for the kids. Ik if JJ Watt walked into my locker room it would mean the world to me— Joshua Smentek (@JoshuaSmentek) March 29, 2023
Don't overthink it
In my opinion, sir, although a tough decision, and understandably so, it's not that tough for me. It's all about the growth, development, and ability to help other humans move forward that outweighs any sense of loyalty.— Mychal Doering (@Coach_Doering) March 30, 2023
J.J. Watt shows gratitude for outpouring of support after announcing retirement
😂😂😂— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
We had some great battles over the years, yet I was never able to get one. You’re just too damn good.
Appreciate ya brother 🙏🏼
watching you grow as a player and a person these past two years has been nothing short of a joy. Can’t wait to see the next evolution and you know I’m in your corner every step of the way, anything you ever need. No matter how big of a pain in my ass you can be at times 😂— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
appreciate your great work all these years Baldy. Keep it up, I look forward to continuing to tune in!— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
having to play against either of you two felt a lot like this… pic.twitter.com/LbRXRs9ZaZ— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
Thank you Michele! It has been an absolute pleasure. 🙏🏼— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
Far too kind @JeromeSolomon. Thank you for the generous words, I truly appreciate them 🙏🏼— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
Appreciate you bro! Was truly an honor to compete on the same field as you! 🙏🏼— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
I bet you know a guy! I see you getting the DC gig!! You deserve it bro. Absolutely loved taking the field with you and can’t wait to watch your defense play this year. Miss you brother!— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
It’s been an honor to share a locker room with you brother. A great player and even better man. Looking forward to these last 2.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
Haha what a photo!! It’s been a pleasure brother, loved sharing the field with you!— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
Thank you for all of your help, kindness & friendship over the years Amy. None of it goes unnoticed or unappreciated!— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
Appreciate ya brother! It was a privilege to take the field with you. I’ll never forget seeing you fly to the ball or call for a cold towel after a training camp set 😂😂— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
Forever grateful for Kub. 🙏🏼— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
Thank you for all your great work Jake. You’re an absolute legend.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
you’re too kind brother. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to share the field with you, but more importantly I’m thankful for your friendship.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
I can’t wait to spend more time with Logan & Brayden!— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
an honor to have taken the field with you brother— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
Appreciate ya brother and thankful to call you a friend. 🙏🏼— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
(Still trying to find a way to make you pay for that onside kick…)
enjoyed competing against you brother. 🙏🏼— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
December 31, 2022
December 31, 2022
thank you my friend. 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/9jMUnTvEH0— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
thank you brother. Right back at you. pic.twitter.com/SJKOJS7K7d— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
All-Time League.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 31, 2022
Thank you for changing my life forever and allowing me to live my dream.
December 31, 2022