The 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is known for punishing quarterbacks and making plays like this game-changing pick six against Andy Dalton in the 2011 AFC Wildcard Game as a rookie:
This Fall, fans may remember All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt for his guest appearance on an episode of FX’s “The League,” which focuses on friends who compete against each other in a fantasy football league. The show has had other NFL players as guest stars in the show’s previous four seasons.
If Watt’s first Hollywood experience raises any questions about his focus or hunger for football, Watt had this to say via Twitter:
In Hollywood taking advantage of many great opportunities, but always focused on what’s important. Can’t win if you don’t work #NotSatisfied
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 16, 2013
After becoming the first player in NFL history to record at least 16.5 sacks and 15 deflected passes in a single season last year, J.J. Swatt (coined by Monday Night Football’s Jon Gruden for swatting down passes that come his way) has not even come close to reaching his full potential. A scary thought for quarterbacks, I know.
Watt finished the season with 20.5 sacks, only two shy of the NFL single season record of 22.5, held by former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. In just his second season, Watt’s stats improved dramatically. He posted 25 more tackles, 15 more sacks, and 12 more pass deflections then his rookie season. This impressive stat line caught the eyes of his peers who ranked him fifth, and as the highest rated defensive player in the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2012.
Off the field, J.J. Watt is less of a beast and more of a man who cares about his community. His visit to the set of “The League” is not the only thing this Pro-Bowler has been up to this offseason.
With his growing fame and popularity, Watt could spend more time on himself, but chooses to give back to his community.
The J.J. Watt Foundation began in 2010, with the mission of “Providing after-school opportunities for children in the community to become involved in athletics.” In April they
hosted a charity softball game, the J.J. Watt Charity Classic. June held host to a charity 5K run/walk to benefit his foundation. In July he participated in the annual ESPY’s Golf Tournament, which raises money for cancer research used by the Jimmy V Foundation.
Watt also recently gave one lucky fan the chance of a lifetime.
He recently held a contest through his Twitter feed asking his fans to “Film a short video of you or the person you nominate performing a random act of kindness in your community.” What does the winner receive you might ask?
I’m going to do a contest to hang out with me for a day. No cameras, no media, just you & I. We’ll workout, run, eat, study, etc. Y’all in?
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 9, 2013
What fans may fail to realize about the man who stands at an intimidating six foot five inches and who weighs almost 300 pounds is how modest he really is.
J.J.’s humble attitude may stem from the unorthodox path he took to the NFL. It could come from his motto “Dream Big, Work Hard” which is imprinted on his wristband that inspires him everyday. Or, perhaps it comes from his pizza delivering days while enrolled in community college in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Watt’s hometown.
After his freshman year of playing tight end for Central Michigan, Watt was frustrated with his lack of touches and decided to return home and take some time off from the game he once loved. He started to deliver pizzas where he one day had a major epiphany thanks to a ten year old whom he was delivering a pizza to. The kid recognized Watt from his high school football days and asked him why he wasn’t playing football anymore.
“That was a powerful day in my life, a humbling moment that reiterated my drive to be great and get to the top as a football player,” Watt said in an interview with USA Today. Following that day he decided to change positions and transfer to the University of Wisconsin. After two successful and productive seasons on Wisconsin’s defensive line, Watt was selected 11th overall in the 2011 NFL draft by the Texans.
The rest is history.
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