Wednesday, May 31 2023

J.J. Watt has figured out the next chapter of his career after retiring from the NFL.

The future Hall of Famer announced Monday that he’ll become an investor in English soccer team Burnley Football Club.

Watt joked that he was “unretiring from retirement,” in a video on social media announcing his investment, saying that he needed something to do with his newfound free time.

“I just love football,” Watt said, at first teasing to a possible return to playing professional football. “No, no — not that kind. You see, over in these islands here, they play football with their feet.”

Watt, who made the investment alongside his wife and professional soccer player, Kealia Watt, was asked by someone off camera if he was going to be like Ryan Reynolds, who, along with fellow actor Rob McElhenney, bought Wrexham F.C. in 2020.

“No,” Watt replied. “We don’t have ‘Buy an entire European football club’ kind of money. We’re more along the lines of minority investment but massive emotional investment. So, America, allow us to introduce to you Burnley. Buckle up, kids, because we’re about to go on a little journey called the English football pyramid. Welcome to the Premier League.”

Burnley also had fun announcing the move, using a clip from the movie “Bean” to announce the club’s new investors. 


In a statement announcing the move, Watt said he was hoping to help expand the Clarets’ brand on a global level while hoping to keep its local identity strong. 

“When you invest in a club that’s been around since 1882, you must have great respect for its history and tradition,” Watt said in a statement. “We understand that not only are we investing in the squad and manager, we’re investing in the town and its people. We take that responsibility very seriously and intend to work hard in earning their trust and support.”

Kealia is hoping to help grow Burnley F.C.’s women’s team.

“In the U.S., I’ve seen the NWSL grow into something really incredible, and we’d love to be a part of growing the women’s team here and be a part of their journey,” she said in the statement.

Burnley F.C. chairman Alan Pace said he’s gotten to know the Watts well in recent months, hosting them for a match in March. He said he respects their passion and interest in the club as he’s “very much looking forward to working with them.”

“Both J.J. and Kealia bring with them an incredible amount of top-level sporting pedigree and success, as well as ideas and connections that will be invaluable in helping us to continue telling the Clarets’ story to an international audience,” Pace said in a statement. 

Watt, 34, ended his prestigious 12-year football career following two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, winning three Defensive Player of the Year awards and earning nearly an estimated $130 million over his career.

Kealia, 31, is currently a free agent. She took the entire 2022 season off as she was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Koa, who she gave birth to in October. She last played with the Chicago Red Stars in 2021, scoring five goals in 30 appearances that season. 

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