During an interview with Pro Football Talk this week, Watt made it clear that skipping the season would be an option for him if he has to wear a protective face shield. Apparently, the Texans pass-rusher once wore a visor over his helmet early in his career and he hated it so much that he doesn't ever plan on doing it again.
"My second year in the league I thought it'd be cool, I put a visor on my helmet," Watt said Wednesday. "I was like, 'It looks so cool, I wanna put a visor on.' I had it on for about three periods of practice and I said, 'Take this sucker off I'm gonna die out here.' ... So now you're gonna put something around my mouth? You can keep that. If that comes into play, I don't think you're gonna see me on the field."
It will be interesting to see if Watt stands by his statement, because face shields are something that could happen. With less than two months to go until the start of the season, the NFL and the NFLPA are still trying to figure out what kind of safety protocols should be put in place to protect players. One option that's being considered is that all players would be required to wear face shields in order to minimize the possible spread of coronavirus. The NFL has spent the offseason testing different types of protective masks, but it's not yet clear if the league will require players to wear them.
If the league doesn't require face shields, Watt would likely play, but the three-time Defensive Player of the Year did add that it's still too early for players to decide whether or not they should play this year. The NFL is expected to give all players the option of sitting out the season.
"I've been on the NFLPA calls the last couple times we've had them," Watt said, via ESPN.com. "I don't think we're anywhere ... I don't think we're at a point yet where people are making that decision because we don't have enough information yet to be making decisions like that. So I think that it's a very fluid process, and I think it keeps coming up. Obviously ... the report date gets closer and closer. But as of right now, we really don't have enough information to make a decision like that, I would say."
One other thing that hasn't been decided is the fate of the preseason, which has already been cut in half. Some players -- like Watt's brother T.J. -- would like to see it eliminated altogether. However, J.J. seems to think the NFL should keep a few preseason games around as long as it's safe to do so.
"If the doctors and the PA doctors decide that it's not in the best safety interest of the players to have them, then we don't have to," Watt said, via ESPN. "But I also at the same time think about undrafted guys and the guys who make a roster in the fourth preseason game and how special that is and how many opportunities would be missed from that. So I'm on both sides of the fence."
Watt added that keeping the preseason is important for players who are trying to establish themselves in the league.
"I think obviously as a vet, personally do I think that preseason games for somebody in my situation is absolutely necessary? I would say, I don't think so," Watt said. "But I think there are a whole bunch of people who need those opportunities and who live for those opportunities."
If Watt proved one thing with his round of interviews on Wednesday, it's that there's still plenty of questions to answer about the season and the answers to those questions could have major ramifications. The threat of Watt sitting out the season might be enough that the NFL will end up encouraging players to wear face shields, but not requiring it.