J.J. Watt: My salute is military appreciation, not taunting


NFL officials have been visiting training camps and reminding players about new rules and important points of emphasis for the 2013 season, and one of those points of emphasis will be strict enforcement of the rule against taunting. In the league’s rule book, one of the examples of illegal taunting is the “military salute.”

The military salute happens to be the way Texans defensive end J.J. Watt celebrates his sacks, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be penalized if he does it this year. The NFL will only crack down on military salutes, spinning the ball and other types of celebrations if those celebrations are specifically directed at opposing players. And Watt wants to make it clear that when he salutes, he does it toward the crowd in recognition of members of the military watching the game.

“I do my salute as a sign of respect and appreciation to the military,” Watt told the Houston Chronicle. “When I was in Afghanistan [on a USO tour] I had soldiers tell me they appreciated me showing them respect. That’s what it’s for.”

Watt said it would be “a bad deal if they’re going to take away something I’m trying to show respect to the people who protect this country,” but he doesn’t have to worry. As long as Watt doesn’t get in the face of the quarterback he just sacked when he gives the military salute, the NFL says he can keep doing it.

72 responses to “J.J. Watt: My salute is military appreciation, not taunting

  1. They also specified that “incredible hulk” celebrations are not allowed. I wonder if Clay “HGH” Matthews is going to say he’s showing appreciation for comically swollen, fictional cartoon characters?

  2. The player’s reasons for doing any given gesture are meaningless to the officiating crew.

    If you spin the ball, on the ground, in the direction of another player or a ref, then it is taunting and it is against league rules. A player could say he is doing it to teach kids about science. That would be BS, but it doesn’t matter in any case. It’s against the rules and is not allowed.

    In my opinion players should be allowed to do quick taunts (that don’t impede the normal flow of a game), as long as there is no violence suggested (like the motion of slitting the throat or gun fingers).

  3. As a veteran myself, I’d appreciate the salutes a little bit more if they were done crisply, correctly and with precision.

    Too many great men died wearing a uniform and performing the salute for the reasons intended to see others do it so poorly.

    Ain’t cracking on JJ specifically – just a general thing that makes me wince when I see people do it – wrong hand, sloppy, open palm et cetera.

  4. The NFL is stupid. They are slowly destroying what was once a great, fun sport. I’ve started enjoying the NBA more and more because football is becoming a flagfest, no fun, borefest.

  5. J.J. Watt: My salute is military appreciation, not taunting
    Maybe he should try to be more military with his salute then. The one pictured sucks.

  6. JJ was never in the military. Leave the saluting to those of us who were. You stick to being a rich and famous athlete. That should be enough for you.

  7. Go sign up if you want to be a soldier. They can teach you how to salute correctly.
    John John did a better job, and with way more pride when JFK died.

  8. I hope D Ware can still do his celebration when he makes a sack cause it pumps me up watching him slam his hands into the field

  9. I can’t wait till the day the NFL will start to penalize if you ever look at a player EVER!

    I can see Ed Hockuli’s grandson out there… “We have a yellow flag on the play… 15 yards because we caught #15 staring down #81 of the Redskins. (It will probably become the RedTails by then). Please reset the game clock to 12:56.

  10. Listen jo jo – If you want to give the military salute then go put on a military uniform like I did. Your playing football not marching in a military band.

  11. But if he’s naturally in a QB’s face from being in close proximity after the sack, then he can still do his salute even if the QB is right there because JJ would surely be directing his salute towards the military members, and any direction he looks can be defended as an arbitrary position that the QB just coincidentally happens to be in the line of sight of. That’s not clearly a rules violation but it will probably get flagged, and sometimes things that should be flagged won’t get flagged at all.

    The only thing that is guaranteed is that this rule will not be enforced consistently.

  12. Was it military appreciation when he pretended to rip off Aaron Rogers belt and throw it down? It was funny when he did it, but they’re both ways of taunting your opponent. Get rid of that crap and focus on playing the game.

  13. gooch80 says: Aug 8, 2013 6:41 PM

    Settle down with the veteran-ism. Great, you served, don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.

    Wasn’t about the pat on the back and no one’s asked for one but if you’re going to do something that means a lot to a certain demographic, with the intent of honoring that demographic – do it right or not at all.

    It’s insulting to have it done with so little care or attention to detail, not that I think that’s his intent but it’s what happens.

  14. @gooch80:

    No Vet is patting themselves on the back or being too haughty. Most Vets I know, despise the added attention; feeling like it is patronizing. I think JJ’s “show of appreciation” falls in line with this “patronizing” feeling. Its unnecessary and undue attention.

    I like JJ. I think he’s an awesome player, but I personally don’t like it when players do the whole saluting thing. Unless they went to a military academy, or served, I don’t think they should do it. I know I wouldn’t. It almost feel condescending to me.

  15. Get over yourself teal379. Look up the history and purpose of a hand salute — a sign of respect. It’s a simple gesture by Watt in the heat of the moment. I, for one, think it’s admirable of him (and yes, I’m a veteran of OIF and OEF).

  16. Yep.
    A military salute and spinning the ball is NOT tauting unless the person doing it has body language after the act that is taunting. Dwight Freeney faces the croud and gives a salute to the fans after a sack…NOT TO TAUNT the sackee.
    The NFL is trying to pick the fly poop outta the pepper on these two acts.

  17. Jo jo stop stealing the military salute from Bronco T.Davis, mile high salute was the first. He has the rights.

    Also hockey fans stop stealing the Rock-n-roll part 2 cheer after a goal when the Colorado Rockies Hockey Team started that in the 70-80’s before they became the NJ Devils.

  18. damn, this turn out to be be the slowest offseason ever. military salute?? I miss the days where everyone gathered around the ball and acted as if it was a grenade

  19. how many coaches do you think tell their players to walk in front of him or get in his view while he does it in the backfield in order to draw flags?

    I bet Belicheat will.

  20. Speaking of Ed Hochuli, he is the only one who should be flexing on the field…for any reason…ever.

  21. Dear NFL Commissioner,

    Let’s get real.

    Taunting is either acceptable or it isn’t.

    How is saluting taunting but running uncontested for 30 yards into the end zone and then somersaulting into it not taunting?

    You have a problem with integrity. You don’t allow ball spinning, salutes, dancing, celebration, or getting in the face of an opponent. You say that taunting is a bad thing – yet we have grown men playing the game here – perhaps you should ask these fools to grow some backbone and accept that taunting is a part of sports and if someone wants to show how unprofessional they are, like a Pittsburgh Steeler or New England Cheater player, then let them. It is up to the players on the opposing team to shove the ball down the throats of the team that is taunting and to make that team pay.

    Meanwhile you’ll have wide receivers showboating into the endzone in an obvious taunt and you’ll do nothing.

  22. There is nothing to appreciate. The militia is what keeps this country safe. A standing army of paid soldier is the most dangerous barrier to freedom that there ever could be especially when said army operates totally outside the confines of the true law of the land. WAKE UP JJ. they don’t fight for you. they fight for business interests. Go read “War is a Racket” by a former USMC Major general and find out for yourself.

  23. When I was in the military and I would, for instance, stop and get gas on the way home in uniform, and a little kid or random stranger would salute me and thank me for my service, there is no way in hell I would tell him he did it wrong or be in any way unappreciative of the sentiment behind the action. I don’t give even the slightest damn if they did it in less than perfect form, the meaning behind it is what mattered. Maybe I’m just a little less full of myself than some others, or maybe I just wasn’t “gung-ho” enough, but I would never think about telling someone they were wrong for showing appreciation.

  24. devildog91 says: Aug 8, 2013 6:55 PM

    Get over yourself teal379. Look up the history and purpose of a hand salute — a sign of respect. It’s a simple gesture by Watt in the heat of the moment. I, for one, think it’s admirable of him (and yes, I’m a veteran of OIF and OEF).

    Nothing to get over, I don’t care that he salutes, that’s not the problem. The problem is HOW he salutes.

    Assuming you’re a Marine – look at the salute in the picture. If some young boot or other Marine saluted an officer in such a way – what EXACTLY do you think the response would be from that officer?

    Again – look at the picture, is that a properly rendered salute, worthy of the respect it’s supposed to convey?

    That’s my point. Do it right or don’t bother. It’s what I was taught when I served. Attention to detail, do it right, do it proper. No honor is conveyed when it’s done to such a degree that it’s basically unrecognizable.

  25. he does realize it’s only going to be considered taunting if he gets up in someones face, and does it in an unsportsmanlike manor, in which case it would not be a salute of appreciation as originally intended.

  26. I’m not a Texans fan, so I have no reason to be an apologist for Watt. However, he is simply showing his appreciation for the armed forces according to him. Until it can be proven otherwise, I’d like to take him at his word.

    For the veterans who are annoyed by it, first let me say that I truly appreciate your service and selfless acts. However, this guy is not someone who has served in the military or went to a military school. He is doing the best he can to bring attention to the armed forces. To me, I’d give that a lot more credit than worrying about how perfect his form is.

    For people who aren’t veterans and still feel the need to complain, get over yourselves.

  27. Speaking as an OIF Veteran, I personally don’t mind the salute. But like my NCO’s told me, if you’re gonna do something, do it right. Pay attention to detail. He needs to drop his elbow to shoulder level, straighten his fingers and keep them together at eyebrow level, and turn his palm down. If you can’t do it correctly, just don’t. You look as jacked up as a soup sandwich.

  28. So you’re telling me that the refs are going to be making judgement calls on 15 yard personal foul taunting calls that will certainly impact multiple games this year? Sounds pretty grey to me. Just another way Goodell can try to manipulate game results…what a joke!

  29. I am vet of oif and oef. First I think its fine that he is paying military their due respect with the salute. To my fellow vets frustrate with his lack of military bearing when doing the salute. When have we ever expected a civilian to have the same discipline we had? He is a football player, not marine. I accept his respect with gratitude. How many professional athletes choose to salute military personnel? So what that his salute is a bit jacked up. I don’t jump on my family for doing hell a lot worse when trying to salute me.

  30. The nfl needs to realize there is a new generation of fans that like creative celebrations. I liked when Steve smith chad Johnson t.0. And randy moss would all try and out do each other.

  31. Okay, ones a wash out, one was on PEDs and still playing at a high level and one Clay Matthews III has never been linked with PEDs aside going to college with a player, one player from his entire team caught with that offense. I’m trying to figure out where all this Clay Matthews HGH crap is coming from? I mean if anyone should be suspected of HGH it’s a running back who came back early from an injury that ends the careers of most RBs to have the best season of his life? Peoples Packer envy kill me, you can bring it up here when this post has absolutely nothing to do with the team, it’s players and I venture to say even the game of football.

  32. He states a “Military Salute”. Before making such a statement he needs to learn a proper military salute first. The 4 main military functions, Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines all salute slightly differently but are basically the same. His salute is so far off its an insult to the military and its saluting tradition. However, I figure its done by a civilian so I have some willingness to let form slide. (20 year veteran 72-92)

  33. As a veteran, I just feel like unless you have served, you really have no idea how to salute, and to me, it sort of cheapens the act itself. I guess what I’m trying to say is, unless you have been properly trained to salute, just don’t do it.

    I’ve never been trained to play professional football, and you don’t see me out there acting like a millionaire athlete, buying mansions, having millions of dollars.

    I would just say unless you have served in the military, just don’t do it, because if you do salute, it’s probably going to be wrong and true veterans will cringe at how you do it wrong anyways.

  34. I guess if u can’t do something nice for somebody exactly the right way then u shouldn’t do anything at all. Cry babies!

  35. ososrule says:
    Aug 8, 2013 8:40 PM
    He is a hell of a LB, but he needs to work on that salute, it’s absolute garbage!


    First off, he’s not a LB

    Secondly, the amount of hate coming towards a guy for showing appreciation towards the military is a bit overwhelming to me. I understand his salute isn’t as crisp and technically accurate as some veterans seemingly would like, but guys… c’mon…

    Some guys dance, some guys do completely over the top celebrations, and some guys flex. Watt has decided that when the spotlight is on him, he’ll use that time to pay tribute to the Armed Forces…

  36. Full disclosure – I am an old fart and have been watching pro football for more than 50 years. I am also a veteran.

    50 or 60 years ago if anyone tried this taunting crap he would have gotten a good butt-kicking from his own teammates. No class is no class – that doesn’t change.

    The baddest and best player EVER was Jim Brown. His practice after scoring (another) TD remained the same – he would hand the ball to the ref and trot off the field. The message was clear – I’ll be back.

    Watt – you can take your military ‘salute’ and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

  37. So now you trolls can’t find any other way to criticize Watt and resort to criticizing HOW he salutes? Get a life, already…

  38. This is more silly nonesense. We tune in for football. We do not want/need to see more funk, jive,silly, poor behavoir. A salute to the Armed forces is great. At the National anthem this is acceptable.During a pro game is not the place. What if your waitress did the funk/jive silly statement routine when she was finished seating you? What if she pulled out a sharpie, autographed your menu?The the same thing for the guy at the hardware store? What if everyone in thier job behaved this way? Stop feeding your ego, you silly punks. Just play football. Nothing more. You pro players are not as important as you believe you are.

  39. Yeah right. I know that after I score touchdowns and grab my junk its just a tribute to those suffering from testicular cancer.

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