T.J. Watt, Other Steelers’ Players Shown Up by Local Pittsburgh Woman on Pickleball Court

by Bryan Fyalkowski

A local Pittsburgh woman named Meg Burkardt played pick-up pickleball with three Steelers defenders and did not even realize who they were.

On Saturday afternoon, T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith and Minkah Fitzpatrick went to the North Park pickleball courts to hit around. The three of them – definitely novices – were spotted by 64-year-old Meg, who is a seasoned player.

The two started playing doubles, with Meg and safety Fitzpatrick against the linebacker duo of Watt and Highsmith. Soon after, nearby folks on the other courts stopped playing and started watching. It was then that Meg realized these were not just some random guys.

Meg posed for a photo with the three Pittsburgh Steelers and sent it in a group text with her family. She said she and “the guy in the green shirt (Fitzpatrick) whooped the other two.” Her daughter Nat screen-shotted the message and tweeted it out:

Watt quote-tweeted Nat’s pic with the caption: “Meg was serving the HEAT. We had trouble all day.” That prompted his older brother J.J. to respond with a tweet of his own, ripping his younger brother and asking him to “explain himself.”

A video Fitzpatrick posted on his Instagram story showed 15 seconds of a one-on-one matchup between Watt and Highsmith.

Meg said they did not exchange phone numbers or anything, but she is really excited to have such a unique story to tell. Considering she did not recognize the three Pittsburgh players at first, it is obvious Meg is not a big football fan. But she aims to change that this upcoming season.

“You bet I am,” Burkardt told local reporter Brian Batko. “I figure now I’ll have a good reason to watch. If they need any tips or help on their pickleball game, they can always call me.”

Watt Happy to Stay a Steeler

Prior to the 2021 season, T.J. Watt signed a four-year, $112 million extension to keep him in black and gold through 2025. It included $80 million guaranteed and a $35 signing bonus, while the $28 million in annual value made him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL at the time.

Not only was Watt happy to be paid his worth as arguably the best defender in the league (although Aaron Donald and Los Angeles Rams fans might have something to say about that), he was also pleased to be signed as a Steeler and stay in Pittsburgh for the long haul.

“That’s what I love about Pittsburgh. I can go to Giant Eagle (supermarket chain) and people just say, ‘Hey, what’s up, T.J.?’ No one really wants anything from you, just to hang out,” Watt said. “That’s why I really enjoy my time here.”

Watt edged Donald for 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but the defensive tackle got a raise last week that put his salary back above Watt’s.