PITTSBURGH – “It’s so good to smile right now,” Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker TJ Watt said as he opened his contract extension press conference.
The feeling was understood. Watt is one day away from signing a four-year, $ 112 million contract that makes him the highest-paid defenseman in the NFL. But now his attention has returned to football.
“It is my mission to everyone in this room and to prove to them that they made the right decision,” Watt said at his press conference on Friday. “That hunger hasn’t gone away, it’s got stronger. I’m so happy to be here in the city of Pittsburgh for many years to come. And a Super Bowl is definitely a real possibility, and I believe in heart from my heart. I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to make this happen. “
Watt’s message has been sent to many people inside and outside the organization. To his teammates, he thanks for the patience.
“I know it was hard to watch me on the sidelines and they could have bothered me so much that I hadn’t practiced and handled this situation like I did,” said Watt. “Nobody gave me a hard time. I really, really, really, really appreciate these guys from the bottom of my heart.”
Players like Cam Heyward and Ben Roethlisberger have openly pleaded for Watt to be given a new contract. These efforts were public, and Watt saw them.
“When you go through something like this and you try to stand up for what you believe in and you have to go through it on your own, being reassured by the people that you care about their opinion the most means a lot,” said Watt. “There have definitely been times throughout this process where you feel lonely and that’s why it’s so important for these guys to say these beautiful things.”
From the organization and those who trust $ 112 million in a 26-year-old, that’s all he could have asked for.
“It’s a dream to play for an organization like this,” Watt said. “That’s it from the field to off the field. On the field it’s a 3-4 defense. I’m an outside linebacker. It’s a player’s dream.
“To play for Blitzburgh. To play for the fans. To play for this city is also a dream. To play for the Rooney family is also a dream. It’s amazing and I get chills talking about being part of an organization that has such a rich tradition. It’s not a billionaire who came to buy a team and started it because he had that money. It’s a team built on tradition and it goes so much deeper than football and that’s why I’m so grateful to be one of them. “
For those who believe this new contract will add pressure to his game on the pitch, he’s up for it.
“I’ve been under pressure my whole life,” Watt said. “Everyone always asks me what it’s like to be X, Y, Z’s younger brother; you know the answers. This is what I was made for, and I truly believe that nothing about money will change me as a person. “I put in it won’t change, it will only grow. It’s my job to prove to all these people who put this amount of money on me and got down on the table for me to say that they want me here is to prove I know I can do it. I know exactly what it takes. I’ve been doing it my whole life. “
And for fans, Watt’s post is simple.
“Let’s go win a Super Bowl,” he said. “I appreciate everyone’s support throughout the process, but now is the time to get back to work and start winning football games.”
The Steelers have all but four starters coming back to defense. It’s not a hopeful team that lives on a dream, according to Watt. This year is different.
“We’re not that young in defense anymore, and that’s a real possibility,” said Watt. “It’s not just something that we put up on the wall and slap in the face just because we have to. We really believe it’s a special team.”
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