BY NATASHA GEIGER
For an athlete that did not bring his team to a playoff berth, J.J. Watt has become a very popular man. Watt is the defensive end for the resurgent Houston Texans, wreaking havoc on defense and scoring his share of touchdowns. It’s hard to miss number 99 in any Texans game with his arm brace and his ability to rush the opposing team’s quarterback. He is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time Pro Bowler. Besides his fierce defense, some recognize Watt by the iconic picture of him with a bloodied nose with meagre bandaging. His fierce competitive side only continues with his signature bat-down of low throws by opposing quarterbacks.
Besides being a beast on the field, Watt has become quite the celebrity outside of football. In late January, Watt did a spread in ESPN Magazine with pop star Katy Perry for the music and sports mix issue. Around the same time he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live where he did a full vertical jump over Kimmel. Many people believed he could have injured himself, but J.J. Watt is not hindered by such human limitations.
Watt, ever since his time in Pewaukee, Wis., has been an overachiever. While he is a fierce competitor on the field and a celebrity off of it, he also has deep connections to his communities. The J.J. Watt Foundation focuses their efforts to provide after-school activities to children in middle school, encouraging them to become leaders in their school, community and in sports, along with teaching them the necessity of teamwork. Watt started his efforts right here in Wisconsin where he was a standout high school athlete and attended UW-Madison and is now spreading the same philanthropy to the Houston area.
There are a lot of different kinds of athletic personalities in the NFL, but few combine on-field achievement and off-field generosity in the way J.J. Watt does. He holds the hearts of many, from fellow Wisconsinites, to the folks of Texas, to the children and families he has helped through charity. Watt has an infectious and positive figure in the NFL; he is able to influence the younger generation to do better in both life and in sports. Every young football player has someone they look up to, and Watt is one of the most popular figures because he holds such a positive image in the league.
At 6’5” and 290 lbs, J.J. Watt is not just a football player but a larger than life man that is spreading his joy for football and generosity. Watt exemplifies what a professional athlete should be: charitable and tough. He is more than a jersey. J.J. Watt will no doubt go down in history as one of the best defensive ends in the NFL and also as one of the most liked. In his own words, “Dream Big, Work Hard.”