UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Catching up with J.J. Watt

Watt_JJ_TCU_2010 (6)_WEB.jpgAt last glance, Justin James Watt had nearly 5,000 tweets ranging from "Let the doubters doubt, while the workers just keep working" to "Success is not owned, it's rented and rent is due today."

At last count, Watt had well over 23,000 followers - and counting.

Watt recently acknowledged that there's no escaping his celebrity, either.

"I'm driving down the highway," he said, "and in the car next to me, there's a guy in the passenger seat who looks over and gives me the 'Roll down your window' signal.'

"He rolls down his window and I'm looking at this guy thinking 'What?'

"So I roll down my window and the guys goes, 'What's going on?'"

Watt politely informed him that he was behind the wheel of his car, and driving.

"He goes, 'How about them Badgers?'" Watt related. "My goodness, I'm driving 45 miles per hour and he's trying to hold a regular conversation. I had to slow down a little bit and let him pass."

Just another memorable day in the Life of J.J. Watt.

Another such day took place just before the All-Star break at Miller Park where Watt was the guest of the Milwaukee Brewers during batting practice. He wound up hitting seven homers.

Sizing up the brawny Watt in a baseball uniform, Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum suggested that he was the right-handed hitting equivalent of Minnesota Twins slugger Jim Thome.

"It was an unbelievable experience," said Watt, the Pewaukee native. "When I was a kid, I was the one sitting out in left field just hoping to catch some of those home runs during batting practice."

Watt played baseball through his sophomore year of high school. "I only had one home run (that season)," he remembered. "I was more of a pitcher. I played catcher, and a little bit of shortstop."

He won't need his glove in Houston.

The Texans will be paying him to hit.

"I can't wait to start my (NFL) career," said Watt. "I live to play football. That's what I'm here to do and as soon as they let us do it again I can't wait to put a helmet on and start hitting people."
    
Several weeks ago, Watt relocated to Houston. Two former UW players, Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham - both of whom are members of the Texans - have helped Watt with the transition.

"I talked to them about places to live, how to avoid the traffic and places to eat," said Watt who also took part in some informal workouts with his new defensive teammates at Rice University.

"It's just nice to be around the guys and feel like you're part of a team again," added Watt, a first-round draft pick of the Texans, "even though we're still locked out."

On the surface, at least, it would appear that the NFL will go back to work soon. "If I had a dime for every time I was asked about the lockout," Watt sighed, "I don't think I'd have to play pro football."

He was jesting, of course, though if anyone would play the game for free it would be Watt whose passion for football has been well-documented. Heck, he still hasn't gotten over the TCU loss.
   
"To this day, none of us has forgotten about the Rose Bowl loss," he said. "I don't think any of us will ever forget about it. Just talking to the guys (returning UW players) I know they're hungry."

He also knows that transfer Russell Wilson is a positive addition to the Badgers. Watt, unlike Wilson, was completely under the radar when he transferred to Wisconsin from Central Michigan.

"People want to embrace him, people want him to be successful," Watt said of Wilson, the former NC State quarterback. "No one is thinking, 'Hey, I hope this kid fails.'

"Everyone on the Badgers, and in the state of Wisconsin, wants him to succeed and that's going to work in his favor as long as he comes in and he works his tail off, which I've heard he does.
   
"I've heard he's a great worker and a great teammate. He's going to be accepted by the guys, he's going to be embraced and given every opportunity to succeed (at Wisconsin)."

Watt's younger brother, Derek, will be a tendered UW freshman this season. Any advice?

"It's a tough position for me to be in," J.J. Watt said, "because I want to tell him everything and I also want to tell him nothing. College is one of those places where you have to learn on your own.
   
"That's part of the growing up experience.

"But the biggest piece of advice I've always given him is, 'Keep your mouth shut and work hard.'

"For anyone coming in as a freshman to a college program if you follow that simple rule, you're going to earn the respect of your teammates.

"Nobody likes a cocky freshman; nobody likes somebody who's going to come in thinking that they are the best. Stay humble, stay quiet and work your tail off. Earn the respect of the older guys."

One last thought from J.J. Watt which could very easily be a tweet. "Badgers always treat their own very well," he said of the reception he gets from alums. "I'm very happy to be a Badger for life."

ON WISCONSIN