Steelers Beat Reporter Weighs In On TJ Watt Controversy


Getty Images T.J. Watt, outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On Monday Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker and Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt became the center of controversy when he denied a report that he skipped his exit interviews in the wake of the team’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.

TribLive columnist Mark Madden made the claim on his 105.9 The X radio show, which soon prompted a response from T.J. Watt, who tweeted:

“Would love to hear who Mark’s sources are. They certainly can’t be myself, Coach T[omlin], Kevin Colbert or Coach Butler. All of whom I met with during exit interviews, prior to packing my own things after a hard fought season trying to give everything I have for the city of Pittsburgh.”

In turn, that prompted T.J.’s brother Derek—who plays fullback for the Steelers—to add his two cents via Twitter:

Mark Madden Responds to T.J. Watt’s Response

But Madden didn’t back down, replying to T.J. Watt with a tweet of his own:

Madden also took the time to respond to T.J.’s brother, J.J. Watt, who plays defensive end for the Houston Texans:

Mark Kaboly’s Reporting Backs T.J. Watt’s Side of the Story

Then on Tuesday, Mark Kaboly, who covers the Steelers for The Athletic, appeared on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh and indicated that T.J. Watt did in fact complete his exit interviews—in person.

“Everything I was told was he was there, he went through it, he met with trainers, he met with whoever he needed to meet with, I have no idea what was said . . . I don’t think it’s that big of a deal even if he did flip them the bird and walk out,” related Kaboly. “T.J. is a very emotional player but what I’ve learned about T.J. is he’s an emotional player right after a loss, right after a win, [but] the next day, he’s back to normal. I’m guessing most players are like that but I can’t see like three or four days later him being still emotional about anything.”

Pittsburgh’s Facility Was Closed the Day After the Playoff Loss to the Browns

In light of the controversy, it’s worth noting one little remembered detail about this year’s end-of-season procedures. Typically, players clean out their lockers and complete exit interviews the day after the season comes to an end. However, the Steelers facility was closed the day after the 48-37 loss to the Browns because a player tested positive for COVID-19.

As such, it’s possible there has been a misunderstanding in terms of meetings missed or not missed.

No doubt Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will be asked about this year’s exit interviews at his next press conference. In the meantime, interested parties may have more to say. Stay tuned.

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