Saturday night, Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt will be hosting SNL and joining the list of top NFL players to be honored with this task. He is a star in Texas and is believed to be one of the league’s best players, but there are some outside of the area that are unfamiliar with his exploits on the football field.
With Watt set to host the long-running sketch show, it’s critical to have a base of knowledge about his football career. Has he been injured? How many times has he won prestigious awards? Where does he rank among all-time great defensive players?
There are several questions about Watt’s football career, as well as his acting chops, and fans are on a mission to find the answers. They are searching out his profile on IMDb to determine if he can keep up with the top SNL talent. They are also watching some highlights on YouTube.
With SNL‘s start time mere hours away, it’s time to dive into Watt’s career and find the most important information. He had made waves since entering the NFL, but Watt’s time in college was nearly as interesting.
Just a reminder that J.J. Watt was once a Central Michigan tight end who walked on at Wisconsin.
— Herzog & Company (@HerzogCo) October 10, 2019
Watt is best known for chasing down quarterbacks and notching sacks, but he was not always a force on the defensive line. He actually started his career on the other side of the ball. Watt was a walk-on tight end at Central Michigan, the alma mater of Antonio Brown, and he spent one season with the Chippewas before departing for Wisconsin.
During his lone season at Central Michigan, Watt caught a mere eight passes for 77 yards. He was active for 14 games but did not reach the end zone. However, this time at tight end did benefit him during his NFL career. Watt caught three passes for three touchdowns during the 2014 season.
With the 11th pick…the @HoustonTexans select J.J. Watt… BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!@JJWatt “I can’t wait to start working hard to make this city proud.” @abc13houston NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/Jsm1ZiVAe6
— Joe Gleason (@joeagleason) April 27, 2018
Following two seasons wreaking havoc as part of Wisconsin’s defensive line, Watt decided to forgo his senior season. He declared for the NFL Draft and excelled during the NFL Scouting Combine. Watt ultimately became a first-round pick of the Houston Texans.
Watt was the 11th player selected during the 2011 NFL Draft. He was also the first defensive end taken in a quarterback-heavy first round. The Texans fans weren’t overly excited about the selection and opted to boo Watt, but he has since become a fan-favorite.
— Captain Bergeron (@Mondattah) July 1, 2018
Entering the 2011 season, the Houston Texans had never appeared in the playoffs. This young franchise had struggled to reach winning records, let alone compete for division wins. This changed during Watt’s rookie season as the Texans finally secured a trip to the postseason and hosted the Cincinnati Bengals.
A relatively unknown player at the time, Watt drew attention when he intercepted Bengals QB Andy Dalton and returned the pick for a touchdown. This gave Houston momentum en route to the first playoff win in franchise history.
— Yahoo Sports NFL (@YahooSportsNFL) October 26, 2018
Watt may have been relatively unknown during his rookie season, but he quickly became a household name in Texas over the course of his first five seasons. He tallied 70 sacks in five seasons and reached 20.5 twice. He also forced 15 fumbles during this stretch of time.
Based on his performance on the field, Watt was named the Defensive Player of the Year three times in this five-year stretch. He became only the second player in NFL history to win the award three times, joining Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor.
“Time and time again we are shown just how beautiful and generous the human spirit can be.”
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) February 4, 2018
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and flooded parts of the city and destroyed countless homes. An estimated 27 trillion gallons of rain fell over Texas and parts of Louisiana. The estimate at the time was that recovery efforts would take nearly $200 billion. Following this disaster, Watt started a social media campaign to raise $200,000 for relief efforts, but he ended up with $37 million.
This money raised by Watt has since been used to rebuild 1,183 homes in the Houston area and more than 971 childcare centers and after school programs. Over 239 million meals have been distributed to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. For these efforts, Watt was given the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2018, which honors the charity work done by players.
This is the spark the Texans needed. Not just a sack to stall Buffalo’s drive, but JJ Watt stepping up and making the play after all he’s come back from just in time for the post season. pic.twitter.com/2WCE7n1yej
— George Balekji NBC15 (@GeorgeBalekji) January 4, 2020
The 2019 season was not overly kind to Watt. He entered the year prepared to make a major difference after finally returning to full health in 2018. However, he missed eight games due to a torn pectoral muscle. Watt was placed on Injured Reserve following week 8 and missed the remainder of the season.
The former first-round pick did make his return to the team in time for the playoffs. He was activated off of IR and was able to participate during the Wild Card victory over the Buffalo Bills and the Divisional Round loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. His sack of Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen was the spark that the Texans needed to mount a comeback victory.
— Matt Musil (@KHOUSportsMatt) September 8, 2016
Watt has certainly drawn attention with his pursuits on the NFL field, but he also created some fans with minor acting roles. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has four acting credits to his name, including two in which he played himself. Watt was a guest star on three episodes of the fantasy football-themed The League, and he also appeared as himself during an episode of New Girl.
Both of these shows tested his comedic ability while playing himself. Watt’s first feature film appearance, however, was quite different. He was a soccer coach in Bad Moms and had a few scenes with Mila Kunis. Watt also appeared in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images