J.J. Watt welcomes soccer rivalry with Tom Brady

BURNLEY, England — New Burnley minority owner J.J. Watt has welcomed Tom Brady’s investment in English football, saying the two NFL legends will push each other to lift their clubs to new heights.

Brady became the latest American athlete to invest in English football, taking a stake in second-tier Championship side Birmingham City earlier this month. He will chair the club’s advisory board.

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In an interview with ESPN ahead of Burnley’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in the 2023-24 Premier League opener Friday, Watt greeted the “competition” Brady will bring.

“I think it [Brady’s investment in Birmingham City] helps us because it’s competition. We’re competitive at the end of the day, so it’s going to make us both want to do more.” Watt said.

“I think overall the American fan base has a massive appetite for football right now. Obviously, Ryan Reynolds and Rob with Wrexham, ‘Ted Lasso,’ you see what Tom’s doing at Birmingham City.

“America is craving football content. There’s a large group of people that still don’t have a great knowledge base, so they’re still trying to find their squad. They’re still trying to find who they’re supposed to support. I think it helps us a lot that more eyeballs come over. We just direct those eyeballs up to Burnley.”

In May, Watt and his wife, Kealia, became minority investors in Burnley alongside American consortium ALK Capital. Viral YouTube group Dude Perfect announced a similar ownership deal with Burnley on Wednesday.

When asked whether Brady discussed the prospect of investing with him, Watt said: “It’s his own thing. We’ve known about it for a while. We’ve known what’s been going on, but we’ve spoken about it now and I’m excited for him. I’m happy for him.

“I think it’s going to be a great challenge. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m happy they’re in a different league, so I can actually root for him a little bit and want him to come join us [in the Premier League.] But if they ever make it up and we’re in the same league, it’ll be a lot of fun.”

Brady pledged to bring his winning mentality to Birmingham, the same mindset that helped him win a record seven Super Bowl rings.

Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, isn’t hiding from the challenge, though.

“He’s had a whole lot of success in his career on a different kind of pitch, but in this one I like our odds,” Watt added.

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