While T.J. Watt may be the best defensive player in the NFL, he clearly has some competition when it comes to the pickleball court. On Saturday, Watt was playing pickup pickleball at North Park in Pittsburgh with fellow Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith and S Minkah Fitzpatrick when they encountered a local woman named Meg. Meg and Fitzpatrick faced off against Watt and Highsmith, and “whooped” the two outside linebackers, according to a text she sent her family.
For those unfamiliar, pickleball is a racket sport similar to tennis, but the ball is similar to a wiffle ball, and it also incorporates elements from ping pong and badminton in addition to tennis. It uses side-out scoring, so only those serving can score, which could explain why Meg’s serves gave Watt and Highsmith so much trouble. It’s been one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. for the past few years (and was the fastest-growing from 2019-2021), largely due to the accessibility, as it’s a sport pretty much anyone can play regardless of age or athletic ability.
Obviously, Watt and Highsmith’s defeat on the pickleball court is nothing more than a fun offseason story and a cool memory for Meg and anyone else who witnessed it. When it comes time to strap on the pads, the two remain among the best at their position and should anchor an impressive Steelers pass rush, along with DL Cam Heyward. Watt has a legitimate shot to break the NFL single-season sack record after tying it last year, and Highsmith will look to build off his six-sack sophomore campaign. The Steelers’ defense is always one of, if not the best, at getting to the quarterback, and this year should be no different with the two of them coming off the edge.
It’s also good to see three of the Steelers’ most important defenders in Watt, Highsmith, and Fitzpatrick bonding off the field. It’s always good when players actually like each other and want to spend time with another, and that chemistry can build and show itself on the field. While Fitzpatrick is entering the last year of his contract, he clearly has friends on the team, and I’m sure he’s been talking to Watt about his contract experience last season, as Fitzpatrick’s current situation is very similar to how Watt’s was.
If any Steelers fans want to interact with their favorite players, you might want to make your way to North Park—you never know when a pickleball game might break out.