J.J. Watt was riding high after the Houston Texans beat the previously undefeated Cincinnati Bengals in Monday Night Football, and when ESPN’s Lisa Salters asked Watt his thoughts on the game, his post-game comments seemed to anger an already frustrated Andy Dalton.
Watt was still on the field when Salters approached him. The notoriously charismatic defensive end couldn’t contain his joy over experiencing victory as the underdog, and J.J. was sure to gloat a little:
“Our goal was to come out here and make the Red Rifle look like a Red Ryder BB Gun, and I think we did that,” Watt half jokingly stated according to ABC News. Dalton’s rocket of an arm and red hair had garnered him the “Red Rifle” nickname and Watt just couldn’t seem to resist the opportunity to utilize the play on words much like he couldn’t resist the opportunity to sack Dalton in the backfield.
During the press conference following the Bengals first loss of the season, according to NFL.com, Dalton expressed significant disappointment at Watt’s jab more so than being manhandled by the Texans’ defense:
“I think J.J. is a good player but for him to be one of the best in this league and just show that integrity and show that type of — you know it shows what he’s about, which is disappointing,” Dalton retorted perhaps indicating that he didn’t tune in for the entirety of Watt’s interview and remarks.
According to ABC News, Watt’s commentary on Dalton wasn’t a jab at the quarterback’s ability so much as a prelude to Watt’s respect and admiration for the talent Andy Dalton holds at his position. Following his “Red Rider BB Gun” comment, Watt actually continued with nothing but praise for Dalton and the Bengals:
“He (Dalton) is a great player, and they (the Bengals) are a great team, but our coaches put together a great game plan, we executed the game plan, everybody did their job.” Watt went on to even point out the Texans had their own deficits during the game. “It wasn’t pretty. I mean, it was 10-6. That is a great football team over there, but we were able to do some great things on defense to help stop them to only two field goals.”
Perhaps Andy Dalton just assumes J.J. Watt is a poor sport based on his affection on Twitter this past weekend for Ronda Rousey, who was criticized for her own poor sportsmanship at UFC 193.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) November 14, 2015
Or perhaps Dalton was still reeling from the end to his perfect season and harped on Watt’s comments that were taken out of context as anything more than a quick witted joke. Regardless, though J.J. Watt’s on-the-field performance is known for its ferocity, J.J. is generally considered to be a pretty likable, humorous, and nice guy off the field.
In April, Watt made headlines with CBS Sports for writing an “excused from work” note for a fan who wanted to attend J.J.’s charity softball game. And Watt is notorious for reaching out to fans such as the time J.J. got down on one knee to “marry” a six-year-old little girl who had been sulking at the prospect of never being able to be Watt’s wife.
Though J.J. Watt’s joke may have been like rubbing salt in the wound of Andy Dalton who has spent the past nine weeks unscathed by criticism, it’s also quite possible Dalton’s overreaction to Watt’s comments were prompted by insecurity and fear.
After all, NFL power rankings had listed Dalton’s Bengals as a top three contender and Watt’s Texans in the bottom ten. If Watt’s defense was able to hold Dalton to field goals, he’s probably a little concerned about what one of the NFL’s top defenses, the Arizona Cardinals, will have in store for him on Sunday… whether he thinks J.J. Watt is funny or not.
Did J.J. Watt go too far with his comments or is Andy Dalton being oversensitive? Tell us what you think!
[J.J. Watt cover image courtesy of Scott Halleran/Getty Images Sports.]