J.J. Watt had a reputation for being one of the nicest players in the NFL off the field, but his status as a leader meant he would get into it with other players and even coaches.

Watt and then-Texans head coach Bill O’Brien had a heated exchange during the 2020 season, and neither man went into details on the encounter, which resulted in the current New England Patriots offensive coordinator’s firing from Houston.

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The internet went into wild speculation at the time, and rumors swirled stating Watt punched O’Brien in the face. There was no evidence confirming or denying the rumor, until Watt appeared on the “Pat McAfee Show” on Wednesday, and the incident was brought up for the retired All-Pro pass rusher to clear the air on.

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“We never got into a physical altercation,” Watt said. “There’s no secret at all we had scuffles, arguments here and there. But that’s what coaches and players do. I talk to Bill all the time. I talked to him literally last week. We have a lot of respect for each other. As a player, you go through the ups and downs. You’re going to have those type of — we’ve seen it with (Tom) Brady on the sideline. He’s a very, very firey guy. You almost have to be in sports.

“We definitely had some spirited debates at times, but no, it never came to a physical altercation between me and Bill. There are some things we agreed on, and some things we disagreed on. I had no problem voicing that, and he had no problem voicing it. We’re good friends to this day. We’re gonna get some beer at some point and just enjoy some conversation.”

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O’Brien’s firey nature might have been seen through the first three weeks of the season with the Patriots offensive coordinator and Bill Belichick reportedly butting heads over the offense. But current and former players continue to praise O’Brien for his ability as a coach.

For McAfee and others, though, they can only imagine what a fight between Watt and O’Brien could have looked like.

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Featured image via Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports Images