If only J.J. Watt would have stayed that extra year at Wisconsin.
Not for football reasons, though. The five-time All-Pro for the Houston Texans has football down just fine. But with another year in Madison, Watt might have learned a little bit more about what he’d get himself into as this year’s commencement speaker.
When UW officials recently asked for a copy of Watt’s remarks before the May 11 ceremony, it threw him off guard.
“I said, ‘What do you mean?’” Watt told ESPN. “I don’t write speeches. I’m just going to go up there and talk.”
School officials weren’t exactly pleased, so they assigned the 30-year-old — who left UW for the NFL after his junior year — his first piece of homework since 2011.
“I have about a month to figure that out,” Watt said, presumably while furiously paraphrasing passages from Russell Wilson’s 2016 commencement speech. Even though Watt hadn’t planned on writing anything out, he stresses being humbled by the “true honor” of his selection as this year’s speaker.
“I never graduated, so I get to see what graduation looks like,” Watt said.
But that’s not to say Watt doesn’t have an idea of what it looks like. Part of the reason he was planning to go off-the-dome was to keep things short for the students. Most of them, he says, would rather celebrate burgeoning adulthood in a different way.
“I have some things I want to get across. But let’s be honest: They just want to go drink beer afterwards. They’re excited. I know how commencements go. They just want the person to give a cool message for about five minutes, and then get off the stage.”
You can’t argue with that logic. I remember my own commencement at DePaul being an excruciating, hours-long affair. And even the speaker looked like he’d have rather been anywhere else on Earth than trapped in that room.