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Morning Briefing: J.J. Watt learned he should stick with football

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff footba
J.J. Watt
(Eric Christian Smith/AP)

Can a pro athlete who is great in one sport become great in another sport with just a little training? Bo Jackson was a two-sport star. So was Deion Sanders. Jackie Robinson was a multi-sport star at UCLA.

That may have been what J.J. Watt was thinking. Watt is a defensive end for the Houston Texans and has been named NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times. At one point, he thought about trying a second sport after he retired: soccer.

Watt, appearing on the podcast “Pardon My Take,” said that after he came up with the plan, he told his girlfriend, Kealia Ohai, who plays pro soccer for the Houston Dash. He thought that with a year of training, he could become a goalie for a pro sports team.

“I’m athletic, I’m agile, I can move, I can use my hands, just like batting balls, it’s not that hard,” Watt told Ohai.

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Now imagine if your significant other told you that they could do what you do with just a year of training. Ohai reacted the way most of us would, and asked Watt to join her on the soccer field.

“She put it – not even on the penalty spot – the 18-yard line, which is like the big box far away, so I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to stop this, no problem,’ ” Watt said.

“She smoked the ball past my face so … fast. No chance. You could give me five years’ training. No chance. It’s insane how fast and how hard she can kick the ball and I can only imagine, obviously, what Ronaldo would do flying one past my face.”

It’s a hard knock life

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HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which began in 2001, follows an NFL team through its training camp as it prepares for the upcoming season. Some teams don’t want the distraction of appearing on the show, so the NFL has instituted rules that “encourage” teams to appear, especially teams that have never been on before. Among the teams being “encouraged” to accept being the team on the show next season are the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders.

Detroit coach Matt Patricia would very much like to not be the team that is chosen.

“I think Jon Gruden is an excellent choice for that show,” Lions coach Matt Patricia told ESPN about the Oakland coach.

“I think the Oakland Raiders and everything they’ve got going on right now would be fantastic viewing for everybody to watch.”

The Lions and Raiders are two of the five teams that are not allowed to say no to it if HBO asks them to appear. The others: the New York Giants, San Francisco and Washington.

Remember him?

Former UCLA men’s basketball coach Steve Alford was fired in December after the Bruins started the season 7-6. But he’s not sitting at home and taking a break.

On Monday and Tuesday, Alford was a special guest of Kentucky coach John Calipari, observing the team in practice and sitting in on meetings.

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“He and I have been friends for a long time, so he said he wanted to come in for a couple days,” Calipari said at his news conference Monday. “So he’s here today. I don’t think he’s staying for the game [Tuesday], but he’ll watch us practice. He’ll be at the radio show tonight. I’ve known him for 30 years or so. He’s a great guy. Terrific coach.”

Last week, Alford spent time in Tennessee attending their practices and sitting in on team meetings conducted by Rick Barnes.


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