J.J. Watt tells tale of ploy to maintain secrecy of Cardinals free agency pick
Whoever the next chief of the CIA is should strongly consider Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt for any openings in the future.
Watt’s level of secrecy during his free agency exploits, which ended with him officially signing with the Cardinals on Tuesday, rivaled that of any national security agency.
The 11th year pro told members of the media on Tuesday that mum was the word among members of his inner circle, with no one leaking any information to scoop-hungry members of the press.
“We kept it very quiet on our side, everything from who was involved to what is involved. For us on our end, it was funny to sit back and watch it play out,” Watt said.
“At the very end, when I decided that Arizona was the place, we realized how quiet it had truly been on that front. I said, ‘I think I’m going to announce this one on my own, take control of your own narrative as a player.'”
That’s exactly what Watt did, sending a tweet of him readying himself at the squat rack in a Cardinals T-shirt with the self-explanatory description, “source: me.”
Watt said that going through free agency for the first time in his career after spending more than a decade as a member of the Houston Texans was a fascinating experience.
“It’s a wild process. As a fan of sports in general I was excited to go through it just to see what free agency is like,” Watt said. “I think as a player and also just as a fan, you kind of always wonder what that’s actually like for the player. What’s it like when agents are calling you, what’s it like when teams are calling and offering.
“You have fan bases on social media and you have news reports and fake news reports … then you start to consider all the different situations … It’s just, it’s a fascinating process.”
In addition to the Cardinals shirt that he donned in the post, Watt acquired shirts for the other teams that he was deciding between.
He said in the end, his circle of confidants decided to keep the announcement simple, so as to prevent any untimely leaks that could have thrown the timing of his decision into disarray.
“I had shirts for each team ordered just in case the situation arose. But we were trying to keep this so quiet,” Watt said. “I didn’t trust whoever at the packaging facility would not see my name on the package and put two-and-two together.
“I had my brother’s high school friend use his credit card and use his address and he shipped the shirts to his house. He brought them over to my house so we could make that happen. Shoutout to Doug and Joe for making this happen — I appreciate you guys. They’re the brains behind the shirt that I wore for the workout.”
In the end, Watt’s free agency quest resulted in a mixture of laughs for he and his family and friends, while also netting him the perfect landing spot with the Cardinals.
“It wasn’t that smooth behind the scenes,” Watt joked. “Seeing my friend Joe try and figure out how to use Amazon was a pretty nice treat in its own right.”