LAS VEGAS | Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas isn't just an opportunity to talk football. When you meet former star defenseman JJ Watt, the conversation can quickly turn to Cole Caufield, hockey and Putin…
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As part of the numerous media activities in the week leading up to the big duel between the Chiefs and the 49ers, CBS, the official broadcaster of the game in the United States, made its various craftsmen available.
Watt just completed his first year of retirement and spoke this season as an analyst for the network. His charisma, approachability and brilliant 10-season career punctuated by 114.5 quarterback sacks in the NFL made him a logical candidate for this role.
But before chatting about football, the burly 6-foot-1, 250-pound guy took the trouble to introduce himself (as if no one knew him!) and shook hands with every journalist at the table before noticing the French-speaking accent of two speakers around him.
“Montreal? Uh! Cole Caufield, my friend!” he said simply.
Watt, very talkative, didn't want to stop there. After all, ice hockey fascinates him almost as much as football.
He was on the ice from the age of four and quickly established himself as a good player at the AAA level where he grew up in Wisconsin, which also led him to take part in a few tournaments with us.
“Do you have Putin for me?” I'm a big fan. I've played in Montreal a few times. Maybe even the Pee-Wee tournament in Quebec, but I forget the names of all the tournaments. I remember that chips and gravy are perfect when you're young. It still is today,” he laughed.
A good friend of Caufield
JJ Watt proudly presented himself in the colors of the Canadian and Cole Caufield on his social networks. PHOTO BY JJ WATTS X ACCOUNT
But back to Caufield! The Canadian small forward played for the University of Wisconsin Badgers for two seasons, from 2019 to 2021.
Watt preceded him in 2009 and 2010 within the same institution, but on the football field, before making the jump to the NFL with the Houston Texans.
As a big ice hockey fan, he watched Caufield's skills with the Badgers and even suggested to the Canadian via his social networks that he play against Caufield more often in his famous advance to the Stanley Cup Final in spring 2021.
“The fact that we both played at the University of Wisconsin brought us closer. Now we are friends. We text each other all the time and when he comes to Arizona I visit him.
“I wanted to see him play in the playoffs, but it was during COVID and they wouldn’t let me come back to Canada. At some point I absolutely have to go to Montreal for a game. “The atmosphere looks incredible,” said Watt.
With the Texans and Cardinals, Watt constantly terrorized opposing quarterbacks and was named Defensive Player of the Year three times in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
For him, Caufield has the potential to become one of the big names in the NHL.
“He finds ways to make big plays, whether it’s passing the puck or scoring goals. He will always find someone to put the puck in the net, or he will usually do it himself. “For me he is a fascinating player,” he praised.
Two quarterbacks under the microscope
Patrick Mahomes had some arguments with JJ Watt when he played for the Texans. Photo AFP
Don't worry, JJ Watt didn't just cover hockey. After all, he is here to enjoy the game that he never got to experience in his illustrious career.
One of the greatest defensive players of his generation met the two quarterbacks in attendance, Patrick Mahomes and Brock Purdy.
“Mahomes is extremely talented but also extremely intelligent. When a defensive player applies pressure, he knows he can retreat 10, 15, or 20 yards and then find his receiver deep down the field. Although I was able to easily beat my blocker, he created very frustrating situations when completing his passes.
“As for Purdy, he had a more difficult game against the Ravens at the end of the season and people took pleasure in rightly judging him based on that poor performance. Looking at his entire game and performances, I don't understand all the negativity in his case. For some reason people try to criticize him and find faults in his game, but he has a lot of merits,” he analyzed.