How J.J. Watt’s “mitochondria” tweet invokes the Buffalo Bills

New York Giants, JJ Watt
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Watt’s Tuesday morning science lesson sent Buffalo Bills fans into hysterics as the prized defender seeks his next destination.

The day elementary school science teachers prepared us for finally came on Tuesday morning.

Superstar free agent J.J. Watt set football Twitter ablaze with a cryptic posting that simply read “Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”. Watt, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, offered no context for his scientific observation. Such labeling of mitochondria is common in biology textbooks and the phrase gained a bit of notoriety in 2013, when Tumblr users mocked the supposed uselessness of this information being taught in schools. Mitochondria are found in the cells of most eukaryotic organisms (whose cells contain a membrane encased nucleus).



With Watt set to move on from the rebuilding Houston Texans, fans and analysts couldn’t help but wonder if the prized defender was hinting at his new destination. The organelle held particular meaning for fans of the Buffalo Bills, as some fans pointed out that Buffalo is home to the Mitochondria Research Society. The MRS is described on the National Organization for Rare Disorders’ (NORD) site as “a non-profit, international organization of scientists and physicians. The purpose of MRS is to find a cure for mitochondrial diseases by promoting research on basic science of mitochondria, mitochondria pathogenesis, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment throughout the world”.

Buffalo fans were hardly alone in trying to decipher Watt’s tweet in their favor. Syracuse.com’s Ryan Talbot jokingly pointed out mitochondria’s bean-like shape, facetiously declaring that Watt was negotiating with Bills general manager Brandon Beane. Talbot’s mentions were quickly filled by overzealous fans of the Chicago Bears, who insisted that Watt was referring to the Windy City’s Cloud Gate sculpture, commonly referred to as “The Bean”. None of the league’s fanbases were truly without guilt in this endeavor, each stretching their own theory further than the last. Only Bills fans, it would appear, were able to find a local landmark to strengthen their case. 

Watt, 31, requested his release from the Texans after a decade in Houston. While a bittersweet breakup, the split appeared to be mutual, with Watt’s wish fulfilled by owner Cal McNair. Watt has earned countless accolades in his NFL career and departs Houston as the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles for a loss (172) and All-Pro nominations (5). He earned 52 tackles and five sacks, as well as the sixth touchdown of his career (and first since 2014) last season, as he partook in all 16 games after his 0219 campaign was mostly lost due to a torn pectoral. 

Despite Watt’s apparent hint, don’t expect the former Texan to make a decision any time soon. He indicated as such when responding to an impatient follower on Sunday night.

“I scroll through door dash for like an hour before I pick a restaurant man…” [sic] Watt told the fan. “You’re gonna have to give me a second to choose a new team and city.” [sic].

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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