2018 alumnus Justin Watson seeking third Super Bowl ring

Watson is a wide receiver on the Kansas City Chiefs, who will take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.

Justin Watson of the Kansas City Chiefs runs down the field during a game against the Chicago Bears.
Image: Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Hall-of-Famers Dan Marino, Barry Sanders, Randy Moss, Dick Butkus, Deacon Jones, Junior Seau, O.J. Simpson, Tony Gonzalez, Bruce Smith, Fran Tarkenton, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson are, obviously, some of the greatest football players who ever lived, but nary a one of them has a Super Bowl ring.

This Sunday in Las Vegas, 2018 Wharton alumnus Justin Watson will be playing for his third.

Watson, No. 1 all-time in Penn football history in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, is a wide receiver for the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs. On Feb. 11, they will battle the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium at 6:30 p.m. on CBS.

A headshot of Justin Watson wearing his Chiefs uniform.

A six-year player, Watson was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round (144th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft. He won his first ring as a member of the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers in 2021 in Super Bowl LV. The Bucs, ironically, defeated the Chiefs 31-9 in Tampa Bay. Watson was inactive for the game but still received a ring.

In February of 2022, Watson signed with Kansas City. He won his second Super Bowl that same season when the Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl LVII in Arizona. He caught two passes in the game for 18 yards, with a long of 12 yards.

Watson re-signed with the Chiefs in April of 2023. This past regular season, he put up career-highs in catches, yards, and touchdowns. He started eight of 16 games and caught 27 passes for 460 yards and three touchdowns.

Justin Watson runs with the ball during his playing days at Penn.
Justin Watson runs with the football during his playing days at Penn. (Image: Penn Athletics)

The Chiefs upended the Miami Dolphins 26-7 in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs. Watson caught two passes for 20 yards. He did not have any catches in Kansas City’s 27-24 victory in the Divisional Round over the Buffalo Bills, but he caught one pass for 16 yards in the Chiefs’ impressive 17-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.

Ray Priore, the George A. Munger Head Coach of the football team, has been watching Watson play since his first-year season in 2014. He says everyone in the Penn football community is ecstatic to see him once again reach the NFL’s biggest stage.

“We all have so much pride and are excited for what Justin has accomplished in his career in college and obviously what he has done at the NFL level,” Priore says.

Justin Watson of the Kansas City Chiefs catches a pass above his head.
Image: Kansas City Chiefs

He says he could see Watson’s potential from the first day he stepped on the football field.

“He had a very high level of maturity at such a very young age as a freshman, he had a great work ethic, and he was very focused,” says Priore. “He had a very, very good football IQ. He came in with great God-given skills and was blessed with the ability to catch the ball and run, but when you add his work ethic behind it, it was a phenomenal combination. Every year that he steps on the field, he’s been able to continue to raise his game.”

If the Chiefs win, they will become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the New England Patriots in 2003-2004, and only the seventh team in NFL history.