Texans' J.J. Watt Tweets He's Interested in Buying NWSL's Utah Royals

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2020

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt answers a question during a news conference after an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Houston. The Texans won 22-19 in overtime.(AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Michael Wyke/Associated Press

Houston Texans star J.J. Watt expressed an interest in purchasing the Utah Royals after owner Dell Loy Hansen announced his intention to sell the holding company that owns the NWSL club.

Watt, who's married to Chicago Red Stars attacker Kealia Watt, responded to NWSL's statement on Hansen:

JJ Watt @JJWatt

I’m interested. https://t.co/CvjIiBTHsq

JJ Watt @JJWatt

I see a club with a great fan base, fantastic facilities in a beautiful setting and most importantly a women’s team that can continue to help grow and amplify not only soccer, but women’s sports as a whole in this country. https://t.co/ZWpVWlaHvF

Hansen, who also owns Real Salt Lake of MLS and the Real Monarchs of the USL, came under fire after he criticized MLS players who declined to play earlier this week as a form of protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

"It's a moment of sadness," he said in an interview with X96 in Salt Lake City (via Matt Montgomery of RSL Soapbox). "It's like somebody stabbed you and you're trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward. That's what it feels like. The disrespect is profound to me personally."

Hansen followed up by implying the protests would directly impact the level to which he'd be willing to invest in Real Salt Lake: "It's taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team. It just seems that's not a very good path to take."

Andy Williams played for RSL from 2005 to 2011 and was the club's head scout until being furloughed in April. He described Hansen as a 'f--king racist" in an interview with The Athletic and said the situation is "Donald Sterling part two." The NBA banned the then-Los Angeles Clippers owner for life after audio of him making racist remarks surfaced.

According to ESPN's Jeff Carlisle, Hansen spoke to MLS Commissioner Don Garber in the wake of the blowback from his radio interview and decided independently to sell his stake in the three soccer franchises.

The Royals entered the NWSL in 2018 and failed to qualify for the playoffs in each of their first two years.

In lieu of a traditional season, the NWSL staged the Challenge Cup earlier this summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Utah went 1-1-2 during the preliminary round and lost to the Houston Dash in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals.