Watt amped to prove and produce
Turns out, even the sky may not be the limit for J.J. Watt.
The Pewaukee native's rookie season with the NFL's Houston Texans sparkled on and off the field, and his selection with the 11th overall pick in last year's draft looks like a Houston heist. Watt chalked up 56 tackles, 5.5 sacks and scooped up two fumbles during his professional baptism, headlined with a Pick 6 interception for a touchdown in the playoffs against Cincinnati.
They may do everything bigger in Texas, but the 6' 6", 288-pound Watt relishes an occasional splash of the small-town feel of home in the off-season, content to hang out with his brothers Derek and T.J. and parents John and Connie.
He bides time and stays in NFL shape by checking in at NX Level, a sports performance training center in Pewaukee occupied by scores of local prep, collegiate and professional athletes.
Catching up with Watt is a workout in itself, but once he was cornered for some Q and A, the generic, run-of-the-mill give and take just wouldn't fly.
Here are 10 questions, a tad off the beaten path, for former Pewaukee Pirate, Central Michigan Chippewa, Wisconsin Badger and current Houston Texans standout, J.J. Watt:
OnMilwaukee.com: Where is the football you scored a touchdown with in the NFL playoffs?
J.J. Watt: It is in my closet in my house in Houston, and I'm actually going to get a whole locker because I have the helmet, the jersey, the gloves, the cleats and the ball. So I'm going to get a locker made, have it encased and all set up. I knew exactly what that ball meant so I held onto it, made sure I got to the sideline and handed it right to the equipment guy.
OMC: You're on Twitter a ton. What places or situations will you not tweet from?
JJW: I'll never tweet on game day before the game. After the game, if we won, I'll tweet. I'll never tweet from the dinner table with my family. That's a big-time taboo. I would never tweet on a date. And if she's on her phone then that means I'm not doing my job on the date! If a movie is bad, I might tweet because I'd be bored, but if it's good, I would wait until the end and tweet a good review.
OMC: What is something your brothers Derek (Wisconsin freshman) and T.J. (Pewaukee junior) are better at than you?
JJW: Derek is a little smarter than me, I think. Derek is really smart, good in school. I was good in school but I think he's even a little bit better than me. T.J., and this is frustrating, because I've tried to learn the guitar in the last two weeks ... I've started learning, and the first day I bought the guitar he started playing it better than I did. Very frustrated with that. T.J. and I played one-on-one basketball the other day, and I won, but he stuffed one of my shots which was, I felt, terrible. He got that on me, but at least I won the game.
OMC: What food do you crave most from back home when you are in Texas?
JJW: I miss some Friday fish fries. I miss cheese curds ... they don't have cheese curds down in Texas. I miss all of my mom's home cooking. And I think one of the things I miss is the atmosphere of the restaurants up here. It's a back home feeling. I miss Mary's 5 O'Clock Club in Pewaukee.
OMC: After transferring from Central Michigan and before enrolling at Wisconsin, you delivered pizza for Pizza Hut for six months. What's the best tip you ever got?
JJW: I delivered to a big group of people at a corporate event, so there was something like 30 pizzas and I got a $45 tip. That was nice, so I always tip guys real well now when they come to my house. I got stiffed quite a few times where they even ask for the pennies back. I think a bill was $19.87 once, the guy gave me a twenty and he asked for the change back. My car definitely smelled like pizza so if I wanted to take a girl on a date it would be a little weird with the smell in the car, but I had to gain weight at that time so it was actually good because it made me hungry and I would eat more.
OMC: Is there someone in the NFL who you were a little star struck with the first time you saw them?
JJW: Wade Phillips, my defensive coordinator, the first time I saw him I was star struck by him. My first sack in the NFL came on Drew Brees so that was a cool moment for me. And obviously he set the passing record this year so it's nice to have that story to tell. But for the most part, I was worried about not screwing up my job than who I was playing against. And Peyton (Manning) was on the sidelines so that wasn't a big deal.
OMC: Your mom, Connie, is a key member of the J.J. Watt Foundation. If you wanted to, could you fire her?
JJW: No chance, not a chance. She could fire me I think! She does most of the grunt work for the foundation and without her there is no foundation. She's so business savvy, such a hard worker and passionate about it and that's why she's so good about it. She truly makes it run.
OMC: Say you're the commissioner of the NFL for one day. What gets changed?
JJW: I would take my fines away from last year. Obviously being a defensive guy you ought to be able to hit the quarterback a little bit more. But I understand the safety ramifications so I guess you can't have that. He does a pretty good job, I can't complain too much about him.
OMC: Do you have a guilty pleasure that fans might be surprised to hear out of a 6' 6" NFL defensive end?
JJW: I have listened to Justin Bieber before. That's kind of embarrassing, but it's not like he's on my daily playlist or anything. One of my biggest guilty pleasures is I love Oreos. I take vanilla ones and the regular ones, half and half, put them together. But I haven't had an Oreo in over a year and a half. I gave them up that November before the Rose Bowl and I haven't eaten one since. I have cravings for those, but I'm kind of proud of myself for not giving in. I tell my mom she can't have Oreos in the house because otherwise I'll eat them.
OMC: Former Wisconsin teammate Scott Tolzien is at quarterback, or John Clay at running back, and you get a clean shot on him. Result?
JJW: Demolition! I'm going to come in there and blow them up, and then after the game, I'll give them a hug and say 'my bad.' But I would have to go for the big shot ... have to go after them no doubt about it. I don't even realize it during a game. (Baltimore Ravens Wide Receiver) Lee Evans had a big catch on us in the playoffs and I was a little frustrated by that, but it really doesn't register with you until after the game. It wouldn't affect me even if my brother was on the other side ... I think I would go out there and hit him just the same as everyone else.
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