It was all a joke, or at least that was how J.J. Watt remembered it.
In 2011, the Houston Texans' star defensive lineman was going through the interview process with teams at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. One of his visits was with the New York Jets, who had the 30th overall pick of the draft that year by virtue of their appearance in the 2010 AFC Championship Game.
Watt was projected to be selected much higher, so Rex Ryan, the Jets' coach at the time, shared a plan to enhance the chances of landing the former Wisconsin standout.
During a conference call with Western New York media Wednesday, Watt said, "I sat down there, and he kind of real casually -- the whole thing was real casual -- and he said, 'Hey, man, you're going to be gone by the time we get to pick, so here's what we're going to do. We're going to put out a fake medical report that you have some sort of disease. I don't know what it is, but we'll make it up. And we're going to drop you" down the NFL draft boards. "But we'll pay you like you're up there.
"It was a funny little thing with Rex, but something I'll always remember about the Combine because it was kind of a nice compliment to hear from an NFL coach when you're a college kid. I was flattered, because I had no clue. You really never truly know where you're going to go in the draft process, so to hear a guy who had just been to the AFC Championship say that you're going to be gone before he gets to pick, that he thinks that highly of you, where he wants you to be his pick, that was pretty cool."
Asked if he was willing to go along with Ryan's scheme, Watt was quick to say, "It was all a joke. It was never, at any point, serious."
No reports about Watt having any sort of ailment circulated. Besides, the Texans made the whole thing moot by selecting Watt with the 11th overall pick.