Being Steelers’ new defensive ‘green-dot helmet’ designee no big deal to T.J. Watt
By the time he’d reached the seventh of nine questions about it from media Wednesday, T.J. Watt couldn’t help but laugh.
“Way too much on the green dot,” the Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker said of being the new designated defensive player equipped with the special helmet that carries the coach-to-player communication system.
“It’s basically a walkie-talkie. I get a call and I say what ‘Butts’ (defensive coordinator Keith Butler) just told in my ear. So it’s not a big deal at all. I have been playing with walkie talkies since I was a kid.”
With the Steelers employing a rotation among three inside linebackers – the position traditionally tasked with relaying the defensive calls from the coaches and to the rest of the defense – the decision was made to give Watt the radio-equipped helmet marked by the green dot.
“He was probably the most indispensable second level defender,” coach Mike Tomlin said, “a guy that’s positioned within the group to communicate with those in front and those behind.
“He’s a capable guy, good communicator and leader. It’s a nonissue there in terms of what he’s capable of doing.”
Watt said that aside from a brief cameo during the third preseason game last month, he’d never had such responsibilities before Sunday’s regular-season opener.
The Steelers allowed 33 points to the New England Patriots, and communication has been publicly cited by defensive players as part of the problem. But coaches and players have absolved Watt’s role in the issues.
“It’s something very minute,” Watt said.
Does Watt even see being chosen to be the signal-caller as an honor? As in, coaches identified, say, leadership qualities or skills?
“No,” Watt said.
“It’s just a sticker on my helmet. So it can be removed easily.”
.@KGorman_Trib: That Watt is working hard to become somebody the Steelers need, making splash plays on the field and serving as a leader in the locker room, sets a tone for his teammates to follow. #Steelers
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) May 30, 2019
Watt seemed almost bemused the green dot has become a story. To him, it’s just taking a message he hears in his helmet, and saying it louder to everyone else – what’s so tough about that?
Actually, Watt identified one part of it that indeed can be difficult.
“Just having the wind to call them,” Watt said. “I exert a lot of energy while I’m playing, so the toughest part is having the wind to be able to call a play.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .