J.J. Watt is one of the most popular names in the NFL right now, and for good reason. Football fans know him because he’s an absolute beast of a player who makes hits that are completely ridiculous. I mean, just look at all the accolades and awards he’s snagged over the years. To top it off, he is completely multi-talented – I mean, the man is a defensive player who caught several touchdowns last season. That just doesn’t happen. And, to take things even further, unlike many players who get a big head after some success and become completely insufferable, he’s maintained as humble over the years as when he was first starting out. Though he enjoys a night on the town with his fellow footballers, he mostly keeps a low profile, doing philanthropic work and spending time with his family.
Anyone who has been watching this season of Hard Knocks – which is focusing on the Houston Texans this year – has probably gotten even more under Watt’s spell. It’s hard not to. The man is the first to arrive and last to leave at every practice, always giving about 5,000%. He will run drills, alone, until he’s sure he has it down to a science. He’ll spend an hour signing autographs for fans after a grueling practice rather than ducking out. He’s so special that he even managed to snag himself a mattress during training camp, while others were curled up on the floor. He is dedicated and always willing to put in the time and effort to make himself and his team better, no matter what.
Watt is an absolute powerhouse, but since he isn’t one to talk much about himself to the press unless specifically asked, you might not know that much about him.
Here are 15 things you may not have known about J.J.Watt.
15 He Used to be a Pizza Delivery Boy
Watt definitely wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He grew up in a small town in Wisconsin to hard-working parents and got a job working at Pizza Hut when he was younger. That’s right – young J.J. Watt would be the one driving around town with a car full of pepperoni pizzas, piping hot and ready for delivery. Unlike some athletes, who seem to forget their humble beginnings the moment they receive the first big paycheck, Watt acknowledges them and is proud of what he’s done. “It goes to show you anybody can do it,” he said to E! News. “There’s nothing crazy or special, it’s just hard work that gets you to where you want to be.”
14 His Dad was a Fire Fighter
When you have a guy as driven, dedicated, and hard-working as J.J. Watt, it’s natural to wonder what kind of man raised him – after all, they often say that men take after their fathers in several ways. Well, Papa Watt has been a hard-working fire fighter his whole life, dedicated to helping people. Plus, since fire fighters have to stay in great shape to make sure they’re at their best in emergency situations, we bet that Papa Watt modeled some good fitness habits for J.J. when he was growing up. Although we’re pretty sure no fire fighter is quite as jacked as J.J.
13 His Mom Taught Him to Work Hard
If you thought the men in J.J. Watt’s family were hard working, just take a look at the lady of the house. J.J. Watt’s mother was a woman who knew how to hustle to get the job she wanted. She started out as a secretary at a building inspection company in Wisconsin and, over the years, managed to work her way up to the vice president. With J.J. Watt’s charitable foundation taking off, she’s slowly moving to a full time role with the organization, but nonetheless – you have to admire a woman who manages to work her way up from the bottom.
12 He Has One of the Biggest Contracts in the League
When you think of players who have the most expensive contracts in the NFL, chances are your mind will jump to some of the big name quarterbacks or running backs. However, there’s a certain defensive end who managed to snag a pretty enormous contract – three guesses who. That’s right – the Texans’ own J.J. Watt. The organization was so pleased with his performance that they signed him to a $100 million dollar contract, one of the biggest in the league. However, he definitely didn’t let it go to his head – according to an interview he had with Fox Sports, he googled what rich people like to buy, and ended up passing because he didn’t like what he saw.
11 His Celeb Crush is Jennifer Aniston
A guy like J.J. Watt could have his pick of basically any woman in the world – regular woman, celebrity, supermodel, etc. So, in a dream scenario, who would his crush be? Easy – Jennifer Aniston, no hesitation, no doubt. I mean, she gets increasingly gorgeous over the years and is one of the most beautiful, toned woman in the entertainment industry – who wouldn’t have a crush on her? Unfortunately for the football superstar, though, she recently tied the knot with fellow actor Justin Theroux. The line-up of girls ready to comfort him over his broken heart would probably fill an entire football stadium, so we bet that he’ll get over his crush disappearing pretty quickly.
10 He’s Definitely Not a Commitment-phobe
Countless football players love playing the field – and we’re not talking about time spent with their pads and cleats on. It’s easy to see why some would be hesitant to settle down – their fame and fortune makes them some of the most eligible bachelors in the nation. However, there’s a certain football player who doesn’t exactly want his bedroom to be a rotating door of women. According to an interview that Watt had with E! News, he sees himself hopefully having a wife and perhaps some kids within five years or so, if he manages to find the right woman.
9 He Started His Foundation During His Junior Year in College
The number of athletes who have some type of charitable foundation is staggering – it seems to be nearly a given that, once a professional athletes achieves a certain degree of success, they start up a foundation that benefits some cause near to their hearts. J.J. Watt has a foundation, but he didn’t start it when he was making multi-millions in the NFL – he started it when he was just a struggling college student. He was inspired to start it in his junior year after doing volunteer work and he kept things close to him. His mom runs it, he’s the president, and one of his best friends is on the board. They organization started with just elbow grease and now it brings in hundreds of thousands a year.
8 He Can Flip 1,000 Pounds
Anyone who watches Hard Knocks will know exactly what we’re talking about when we mention the tire. For those who may have missed it, let us clarify – part of J.J. Watt’s regular workout involves flipping a giant tire that weights a staggering 1,000 pounds. That’s right – 1,000 pounds. And lest you think he just managed to max out and flip it over once or twice, he managed to work his way up from flipping it once in 2013 to 65 times in 2015. That’s right – he’s getting stronger year after year. Who on earth knows how much he’ll grow in another two years time.
7 He Has a Ballin’ Cabin in His Home State
A lot of pro athletes buy mega-mansions in the state where their team is, but J.J. Watt kept things a little closer to home. While he definitely has a spot in Texas for all his time spent with the team, he recently invested in a property in his native state of Wisconsin. He bought a cabin-style pad as a place for private getaways during the off-season, nestled right in the woods. The property is absolutely spectacular, with over 4,500 square feet of space, an elevator, and 35 acres of Midwestern woodland to explore. Apparently he’s looking to potentially transform a barn on the land to a home gym – I mean, if you were J.J. Watt, wouldn’t you?
6 The JJ? Stands for Justin James
Okay, this might not be that hard to uncover, but J.J. Watt has become such a household name that most people don’t even know what the initials stand for. Why would they? It’s J.J. – he’s absolutely iconic and those two initials alone are recognizable. However, just in case you were curious, they stand for Justin James. A good, traditional name for a Midwestern boy.
5 He's Been "Married" Before
Countless women around the world would love to get a marriage proposal from J.J. Watt, but it was a young six year old girl by the name of Breanna who got the honor. Apparently, Breanna was a huge J.J. Watt fan and was upset that she couldn’t marry him because she wasn’t 25 yet - and her mother posted a video of her sad lament. Well, in typical good guy fashion, Watt stumbled across the video and asked his Twitter followers to help him identify the girl. One thing led to another and soon Breanna was the recipient of a Watt proposal – complete with flowers and a Ring Pop. Hear that? That’s the sound of hearts around the world melting.
4 There Are More Watt Brothers
With Peyton Manning heading towards retirement, the NFL could definitely use another set of brothers in its ranks, a role that Peyton and Eli have held for several years. Well, luck has it, J.J. Watt isn’t an only child – he has brothers who both play football at J.J.’s alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His brother Derek plays fullback while his brother T.J. plays tight end. Both were three-star recruits out of high school and have been impressing many with their skills, so who knows – there may be a time when there are three Watt brothers in the NFL! One can only dream.
3 He Switched Schools in College
For most high school football players, getting the nod to play college ball, full ride, is a huge honor – even an offer from one school is a big deal. Given how hard it is to get into certain programs, it makes sense that you wouldn’t exactly want to jeopardize your chances – but J.J. ended up taking a bit of a risk in his college athletic career. He started out at Central Michigan, but soon found out it wasn’t quite the right fit for him and how he wanted to develop as an athlete. He decided to give up his sweet deal and walk-on in Wisconsin. It was a risk at the time, but it ended up working out pretty well for him.
2 He Loves Modern Family
Back in 2013, Sports Illustrated asked J.J. a couple pop culture questions. It’s always nice to get athletes’ thoughts on something besides sports and who their favorite retired athletes or current athletes are – it sheds a lot of light on their personalities off the field. When it comes to must-see television, J.J. Watt has a soft spot for the Dunphy family it seems – his must-DVR show is Modern Family. I mean, it’s one of the most popular shows on television now, having won countless awards, but nonetheless – next time you sit down to watch the latest episode of Modern Family on your DVR, just think that J.J. Watt might be doing the exact same thing.
1 Football Isn’t His Favorite Sport
If you’re a professional football player in the NFL, it would be a no-brainer that football is your favorite sport, right? After all, you spend basically all your time studying film, doing drills, and working out to make sure you’re at the top of your game on the football field. However, thanks to his Wisconsin roots, J.J. Watt’s favorite sport is a bit icier – he’s a big hockey fan. Watt actually played hockey for about ten years in his youth and was probably amazing at it thanks to his sheer athletic ability, but he ended up quitting because the cost was too much for his family (that hockey gear is expensive). Though his own life is all about football, he’s still a big hockey fan in his off time and even incorporates skating into his offseason workouts.