T.J. Watt Confesses to Breaking NFL Rule During Steelers-Ravens Game

Getty T.J. Watt sacks Tyler Huntley to tie Michael Strahan's single season sack record.

It’s forbidden for coaches and players to use cell phones during games and Pittsburgh Steelers star linebacker T.J. Watt did just that during the Week 18 Baltimore Ravens matchup.

Whether he was aware — or cared — Watt let the rules violation slip during an interview on the January 18 edition of the Dan Patrick Show.

“When did you find out you didn’t have the sack record?” Patrick asked Watt.

“At halftime,” Watt admitted. “I thought I had two [sacks], and I checked my phone because our D-line coach was like, ‘They’re giving it to you, they’re giving it to you. You have it.’ But then a couple of other guys said, ‘No, you’re not.’ So I checked my phone at halftime – which I never do. And then in J.J. and my brother’s group chat, [J.J.] was like, ‘They only gave you one man, you gotta go get another one.”

“I tried like hell to get another one in the second half, and they were running the ball a whole bunch, so it wasn’t in the cards.”

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The botched snap between Ravens center Bradley Bozeman and quarterback Tyler Huntley was ruled an aborted play. Watt was only credited for a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.

The Pittsburgh Steelers did appeal to the Elias Sports Bureau (the official statistician for the NFL) to have the ruling of a tackle for loss overturned. A reversal would’ve given Watt 23.5 sacks and the single-season sack record, but per Pro Football Talk, the appeal was rejected.

Watt will have to be content with knotting the record of 22.5 sacks set by New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan in 2001. As with the Steelers playoff hopes — there’s always next year.

Will T.J. Watt Be Fined?

According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL’s electronic devices rule of the Game Operations Manual states the following:

“Unless specifically permitted by League rules, the use of cellular phones, smartphones, tablet devices, computers, wearable electronic devices such as Google Glass, and other electronic equipment by coaches, players, and other club personnel is prohibited in club-controlled areas including, but not limited to, sidelines and coaches’ booths.”

“These restrictions apply from ninety (90) minutes prior to kickoff through the end of the game, including halftime. Coaches, players, and other team personnel are permitted to use such electronic devices in the locker room prior to kickoff and are permitted to use League-issued Microsoft Surface tablets throughout game day for viewing coaches’ still photos.”

If a tree falls in a forest, and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? If T.J. Watt used his cell during a game, but no one sees it, did he really use it? We’ll see if the NFL slaps Watt with a fine for violating the devices rule. According to Spotrac, no fines were handed down stemming from Week 18 games. It would be pretty petty of the league to fine Watt for a weeks-old violation, but then again…

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