Former NFL star JJ Watt has taken to the bars and drinking establishments of northwest England – all in the name of “research.”
Watt and his wife – former US Women’s National Team (USWNT) player Kealia – announced their investment in English club Burnley FC last week, after he retired from professional football in the NFL earlier this year.
And this week, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year took a hands-on approach in getting to know the soccer club and its supporters, by embarking on a pub crawl on his way to the stadium.
“I’ve learned that the history, tradition and supporters, it’s all about respecting and honoring that,” the 34-year-old told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday.
“You never want to come in and try and do something that’s not true to who the club is, and what we’re trying to do is show people what real Burnley is about.”
Watt added that he had spent some time getting acquainted with the local drinking establishments.
Soccer Football – National League – Wrexham Victory Parade – Wrexham, Wales, Britain – May 2, 2023 Wrexham co-owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds celebrate on the bus with a beer during the victory parade REUTERS/Carl Recine
Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney join Wrexham's open-top bus parade
“I did a pub crawl yesterday on my way to the stadium, so I started at the Royal Dyche, worked my way down to Vintage Clarets and all my way up to Turf Moor. Just getting to know the supporters, I want to earn their trust by showing them how much we care and how passionate we are.
“It’s research, I’m doing research – and lots of pints of Guinness along the way. But it was a lot of fun and really good to get to know them on a personal level, and hopefully, they get to know us as well,” he added.
The Royal Dyche took to Twitter to mark Watt’s visit, sharing an image of him behind the bar on Monday.
“Another visit from NFL legend @JJWatt, what a pleasure it’s been. Lovely gent, such a great reception in the pub from all us Claret fans,” the pub added.
“What a fantastic addition to the club #UTC.”
Another visit from NFL legend @JJWatt , what a pleasure it’s been 🤝🏻
Lovely gent, such a great reception in the pub from all us Claret fans 🔥
What a fantastic addition to the club #UTC
Now let’s finish on a high with 3 points, come on Burnley!! pic.twitter.com/BzcYKP4SsI
— The Royal Dyche (@theroyaldyche) May 8, 2023
Burnley is set to compete in the English Premier League (EPL) next season after earning promotion by winning the Championship, English football’s second division, under the stewardship of head coach Vincent Kompany.
Kompany is best known for his exploits as the captain of Manchester City, with whom he won four Premier League titles.
CNN’s Matt Foster has contributed reporting.