July 23, 2015 -- The Texans’ “All-World” defensive end J.J. Watt always delivers on the gridiron, and he came through again recently when he surprised the husband of a Law Center alumna with the news that a baby is on the way.
“STEVE BURKE, YOU’RE GOING TO BE A DAD!” read a printed message held by an exuberant Watt in a photo presented to the dad-to-be. Marcella Burke, UHLC class of 2012, wanted a unique way to tell her husband the exciting news. She naturally thought of the fan-friendly Watt who is known for his quirky deeds and surprise appearances throughout the community.
Burke contacted the Texans’ communications department which pitched the idea to J.J. who immediately ran with it, posing for the picture after practice.
The expectant mom placed the photo in a card and gave it to the un-expecting future father.
“At first he was confused; was I really pregnant? ‘Yes,’ I told him, and he was really excited,” she recounted. “After we celebrated, I asked him what he thought about J.J., and he said he was impressed that his not-so-tech-savvy wife figured out how to use Photoshop and asked where I found the picture. I told him it really was J.J., and he pretty much fell off the couch.”
The picture and story made the rounds of Texas Supreme Court Justice Don R. Willett’s chambers where Marcella Burke is clerking. The justice, an active “tweeter” who was proclaimed the “Twitter Laureate of Texas” by the legislature this session, was eager to post the picture and the happy couple finally relented on his birthday: “How does an All-Star @JusticeWillett law clerk tell her husband they're expecting? She enlists All-Galaxy @JJWatt!” Willett tweeted above the picture of Watt.
Burke, who calls Willett a “very proud grand-judge,” said everyone was surprised by the reaction. The item was picked up by the NFL, Sports Illustrated, TV stations, and other media. The mom-to-be says the photo and online responses will be going into the baby book.
She will finish her clerkship at the end of July, and will be returning to the firm of Akin Gump where she worked for two years after graduating from the Law Center. Needless to say, she and her husband, an analyst with Noble Energy who played college football, are diehard Texan – and J.J. – fans. “J.J. Watt really is the best,” she said, “so gracious and made it that much more fun to tell Steve the good news.”
Baby Burke, whose gender will be yet another surprise, is expected in December.