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HOUSTON -- The oversized man in the white toga struts into the kitchen, immediately commanding the attention of 40 sets of eyes. At first glance, the scene is reminiscent of John Blutarsky dominating the dance floor in "Animal House"; upon further review, however, this is more like Rod Tidwell preparing to storm off the Waterbed Warehouse set in "Jerry Maguire," or Rocky Balboa suffering similar indignities while shilling for Beast Aftershave in "Rocky II."

Sure enough, J.J. Watt is about to bring a little tumult to this toga party: a TV commercial shoot for H-E-B grocery stores, conducted shortly before the start of training camp at an expansive house on Houston's west side. First, Watt must touch up a voice track from the spot he'd filmed earlier while clad in a tuxedo, and it's not going smoothly. After slightly botching his line for the second consecutive take, Watt lights up like a fluorescent bulb, screaming "Son of a gun!" and punching his right fist into his opposite hand, causing his co-star and mother, Connie, to blush. The set is dead silent for a few uncomfortable seconds. "I'm gonna get this one," Watt declares in a more measured tone, then quickly gets back into character.

This time, as promised, the NFL's reigning Defensive Player of the Year is money, flawlessly nailing his trickiest sentence ("The most exquisitely scrumptious beef you can buy") to wrap up the first of three 30-second spots -- the third of which will require a quick switch to yet another costume, a pair of giant blue overalls.

Back in his makeshift dressing room, Watt's wardrobe change earns him a smile from his father, John: "Believe it or not, in the mid-'70s, that was what you wore in high school to be cool," John Watt says. "I think I even had a pair of corduroy overalls." J.J. shoots him a skeptical look.

"What can I say?" John continues. "It was a weird time."

Then again, for the perfectionist pitchman in question, the same can be said of the present.




n the heels of a magnificent season that ended with the Houston Texans' All-Pro defensive end becoming the first NFL player to register a second 20-sack campaign -- and finishing second behind Aaron Rodgers in the MVP race -- Watt's celebrity reached new, fanciful levels. In July alone, he had dinner at Arnold Schwarzenegger's house, posed for a photo with Jennifer Aniston and awkwardly flirted with Britney Spears while presenting an ESPY to Ronda Rousey. Over the offseason, Watt filmed commercials with Rousey and Kathy Ireland, tackled a fan who jumped onstage at a Zac Brown Band concert and took Hollywood meetings that explored his potential as an action star.

So yeah -- when he isn't waking up at 3:45 a.m. to work out while on vacation, holing up in a massive log cabin to launch his offseason training program, tossing and turning in his bed while obsessing over missed opportunities in OTAs or admonishing himself for being so deficient at letting loose -- Watt is living an existence for which most 26-year-old males would gladly give up a finger.

J.J. Watt's rise to NFL superstardom has allowed him to rub shoulders with high-profile celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"It's always surreal," Watt says, gesturing toward the commercial set on this sticky July afternoon. "I mean, it'll never stop being surreal. This is crazy. Nothing about my life now will ever be normal, because it's not -- it's crazy, it's absurd, it's awesome and it's unbelievable."

And yet, ultimately, to Watt, it's all background noise. For all the enjoyment he derives from his surreal life outside the lines, he cares far more about what he accomplishes on the football field -- far more than anyone who might be considered normal should.

"If you want to be remembered as great, if you want to be a legend, you have to go out there every single day and do stuff," says Watt, who kicked off his 2015 campaign in style with a pair of sacks in a 27-20 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs, including one accomplished without a helmet. "It may not matter to anybody now, but when you go out there and perform on the field, that's what matters. I think there are definitely some people that would say I'm crazy."

For Watt, that means approaching his craft with an obsessive intensity that often causes a disconnect between him and what most people would consider reality. It doesn't make him the easiest person to relate to in the locker room, or -- by his own admission -- the most compatible love interest, at least at this stage of his life. Yet, he's consciously making those sacrifices, at least in the short term, because being named Defensive Player of the Year in two of the past three seasons hasn't left him close to satisfied.

"I know some athletes who say it's their duty to be the best they can," says Brad Arnett, who has trained Watt since the converted youth-hockey standout began pursuing a football career at the age of 15. "Jay takes that to a whole different level."

For one thing, he views himself -- scarily -- as an ascending player.

"Well," Watt reasons, "they say athletes hit their prime between ages 27 and 33. I'm 26. So I'm hoping they're right, and I'm looking forward to growing even more. If you just look at my training and where my numbers are and everything that I've been doing training-wise, I'm still on the rise, I'm still improving. And I think watching my film and learning from my film, there's still so much I can get better at -- I'm still working to be better and better."

He definitely doesn't shy away from lofty goals, which has been a common thread throughout his unconventional path to the top of his profession. Lightly recruited out of high school, Watt spent a season playing tight end at Central Michigan before transferring to Wisconsin, making the team as a walk-on defensive end. Eventually, he emerged as a top NFL prospect, and after a strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, he went 11th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. However, Watt had a relatively uneventful rookie season, finishing with 5.5 sacks (though he was a revelation in the Texans' two playoff games, picking up 3.5 more sacks and making a spectacular interception, which he returned 29 yards for a score, in a first-round victory over the Cincinnati Bengals).

Given all the talk that the selection of Watt had been ill-spent, it seemed a bit ridiculous when, the following July, then-Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said, "He's going to be a bust -- not a first-round bust, but a bust in the Hall of Fame. The only players I've seen that can do what he can do with his intensity can be found in Canton."

Says Watt: "When he said that, that was before I had really done much at all, so I think that comment kind of made the world step back and say, 'This guy's crazy; why would he say that about a first-year player?' But I'm sitting there like, This guy's coached some unbelievable players. He's coached Bruce Smith; he's coached Reggie White ... he's coached unbelievable guys and he's saying this about me. It was one of the most humbling things in the world to hear. And it was so motivating, because it was like, that's how I think of myself, and it made me work even that much harder than I already was, to go out there and prove him right."

Now imagine the burden Watt felt this past July when it was revealed his peers had voted him No. 1 on NFL Network's annual Top 100 list, the first time a defensive player had been so honored.

"It's so humbling for me, and I appreciate the respect that was shown with that," Watt says. "Because those are the guys that watch the film every week, those are the guys that know football inside and out, so for them to vote me into that position meant the world to me. Because I take my peers -- the players and the coaches -- I take their word so much more than any analyst or anybody else out there. So that was awesome."

Watt has become the face of the franchise in Houston, especially since the departure of longtime Texans star Andre Johnson.
For what it's worth, Watt also responds to negative reinforcement. Just ask Bills guard Cyril Richardson, who, as a rookie making his first NFL start last September, so enraged Watt that the defender tore off his own helmet and ripped the Buffalo player a new one. The tipping point had come when Richardson, following an incomplete pass, dove at Watt while the defender was prone on the NRG Stadium turf.

"[He] came in after the whistle -- and I was face-first, cause I'd hit the quarterback -- and dropped his knee or his elbow in the back of my helmet, clearly after the whistle," Watt recalls of the incident in that 23-17 Texans triumph. "My helmet came off, and that was a moment where I just stood over him and just screamed at him. But I had 15 quarterback hits that game, and an 80-yard interception for a touchdown. It turned out OK."

So to summarize: Watt's sources of motivation include himself, his teammates, his coaches, his peers, his opponents ... oh, and society as a whole.

"I feel like I owe it to everybody," Watt says. "I feel like growing up, I watched football, obviously, and you see great players, and as a fan, you want to watch the best you can possibly watch, and you want to see what's capable of being made. So for me, I feel like I want to go out there and show myself what I'm capable of, but I also want to show the world what we're capable of, and how good somebody can be. So that's why every single day you're working so dang hard, to try and be the best player that you can be, to help your team win, to help create a great atmosphere for the fans, and just at the end of the day to be the best you can possibly be.

"Why short yourself, you know?"

Watt

hen it comes to preparation, Watt doesn't short himself. Even in his downtime, he goes long and strong. From his high-volume, calorie-intensive (he eats an average of seven meals a day) and admittedly bland diet, to his retirement-home sleeping schedule, to his romantic life (or lack thereof), Watt is a man who puts football first, and is essentially putting off everything else until his playing days are done.

This is not to say that Watt is living a Spartan existence. He spent the first few months of his offseason holed up in a log cabin he purchased in the Wisconsin countryside, one he initially described to reporters as "minimalistic." It turned out the 4,500-square-foot house had plenty of amenities; however, it did afford Watt the privacy and training-intensive focus he craves.

"I mean, it's a beautiful home," Watt says. "It's on 36 acres, so my favorite thing to do is just walk the land. I love to go to the back of the property and walk all the way around it and just kind of think. In the wintertime, obviously, I like to hang out by the fireplace. And in the cabin, when you come into the main living room area, there's no TV ... just a couple of couches and chairs. I did that purposely, because when people come over, I want it to be a conversation. I don't want everybody to immediately turn on the TV and not talk with each other. So I want to create an environment where we have engaging conversation. In today's world, everybody just flips on a TV or video game ... nobody talks to each other."

For Watt, the value in getting away was multi-pronged. "There are so many benefits," he says. "It's a chance for me to reconnect with my family and friends, 'cause my life is so crazy the rest of the year. It's a chance to go back with my trainer [Arnett], who I've been training with for nine years, since my sophomore year in high school. And then it's a chance to kind of reboot. I'm away from that craziness of the fame and the spotlight and everything, so that when I do come back, I'm ready for it ... I'm excited for it again."

When it comes to pushing himself to become a better football player, Watt's excitement borders on the fanatical.

"People ask me to describe him," Arnett says, "and this is the best I can do: He's like a high-school kid still trapped in the body of a 26-year-old professional athlete. There are times he doesn't know any different. From a mental standpoint, people ask, 'What gives him the edge?' It's that there's nothing he doesn't believe he can do. If I told him, 'OK, Jay, in order to get better today, we're gonna go out on this Honda 150 and do a wheelie for half a mile,' even if he had never ridden a motorcycle before, he still wouldn't hesitate and would believe that he would be capable of doing it. And he'd still feel that way, even if he fell on his face."

Watt's not big on falling, however. Consider this past April's announcement -- which Watt unveiled on social media -- that he had signed an endorsement deal with Reebok, highlighted by him jumping onto a box more than five feet high. Recalls Arnett: "We had a meeting with Reebok to talk about their new campaign, and Jay came up with the idea that he'd do a box jump and then hit the pump on his shoe. We came back to the gym and were talking about it, and he said, 'How high do you think I should go?' I told him, 'You've been at 59 inches. You've gotta make a splash. How about 61?' He said, 'Sure.' It was a Friday, and a bunch of kids came in for training stuff, and eventually he nailed it [on video] and everyone went crazy.

"On Tuesday, some Reebok people came back in and wanted to shoot some more video of him jumping and make it look the same as the Friday jump ... and they were gonna have him jump up to a much lower box. And he said, 'Why do we have to [stage] it?' He put the box at 61 -- and he did it five times in a row. With Jay, it's not, 'Do it till I get it right,' it's, 'I'm gonna do it till I never get it wrong.' "

And then, at the end of the day -- sometimes literally -- Watt shuts it down with a purpose, performing what amounts to a mic drop. On the field, the man is as fierce as a Tupac Shakur verse; off of it, he's white noise. Picture him rolling ... around in the sheets, fretting over a play he didn't make in practice ... at 7:30 p.m.

"I'm trying to get my 10 hours," he says. "Last season, I was in bed at 7 or 7:30. I'd get home and go straight to bed. 'Cause that's what I had to do. I'd look outside and it was still light out, and I was kinda like, What are you doing, guy? That's probably part of why people call me crazy."

They also call him obsessive, as evidenced by the fact that he typically tosses and turns for a good 30 minutes before he drifts off into slumber. "That's another area I need to work on -- trying to clear my mind so I can fall asleep," Watt says. "Because during the season, especially, every practice rep is like that. I'll stay up at night because of reps at practice. After a game is the hardest night of sleep ever -- win or lose. Because it's just stuff going through my head all the time."

And when Watt isn't obsessing over plays? "You've got all this other stuff going on, too," he says. "You've got, How can I be a better leader for this team?"

At first glance, that seems like a rhetorical question. Watt, after all, is a coach's dream, at least on paper.

"When a player that great has that kind of work ethic, it's pretty special," Texans coach Bill O'Brien says. "It obviously sets a tone for the entire team."

Yet Watt has had to work on his bedside manner.

"Early in my career, I wasn't the best," he concedes. "Because I thought everybody could dedicate every second of the day to football. And that was silly of me to think. But over the years, as I mature, as I get older, I realize that everybody has a different approach to the game. Guys have families, guys have kids, guys have things going on in their lives outside of this. Not everybody has this kind of sole focus that I have right now. And you need to realize that as a leader. And you need to get the most you can get out of a guy, without trying to change somebody.

"I think that's one thing I've been working very hard on. I'm much more understanding of situations and of guys. I was once told, 'If you try to hold everybody else to your expectation, you're always gonna be disappointed.' Because people have things going on in their lives. I can't expect people to have this stupid, crazy affection for the game -- and obsession with the game -- that I do. So it's just understanding what that's like and making myself relax a little bit, and if that means going and having a drink with the guys, go have a drink."

Watt got the best of Zach Mettenberger last season, mocking the rookie QB's proclivity for selfies by pantomiming one of his own after a sack.
If you're getting the impression that unwinding does not come naturally to Watt, he will not dispute this. Asked to assess the areas in which he needs to improve as a person, he answers instantly: "Relaxing and having fun. That's seriously my biggest issue. I need to be more in the moment. I need to enjoy everything that's happening, because it's all gonna be gone eventually. And I think that's my biggest thing right now. I don't want to look back on these years and think, Man, I should have enjoyed that more. I'm actually focusing on working hard at having more fun, and I'm trying to enjoy the moment more."

Taylor Jannsen, a close friend of Watt's since their days as high school hoops teammates in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, has noticed an improvement in that area. "I totally agree that he's having more fun," Jannsen says. "I've been able to see it more in the past year. He's really trying. He might be going to dinner with Michael Jordan, or something crazy like that, and he'll stop and remind himself, This is all a product of how hard I've worked."

As an exercise, Watt sometimes forces himself to hit the pause button and appreciate a particularly surreal situation. Such was the case in July when he dined at the home of California's former governor, not to mention an iconic bodybuilder and action-movie star.

"I was eating dinner at Arnold's house, just hanging out with him," Watt says. "I kinda looked at the fire, I looked at him, and I looked around at his house and I was like, 'This is unbelievable.' He's sitting across from me, smoking a cigar and drinking some wine. We were in the middle of talking business, and talking workouts, and talking everything -- and I just took a second to appreciate it.

"It was phenomenal. He still works hard, too. He wakes up every morning early, goes 45 minutes on a stationary bike, then bikes a half hour to the gym, works out and makes the half-hour bike ride back. That's a pretty solid morning. He's what, 68? Still doing action movies. He's killing it."

Then there was the encounter with Aniston, which happened when the actress ended up in the same building at which Watt was taking a meeting.

"It was actually being arranged for [us to meet at] a dinner later in the week, and it just so happened that we were in the building at the same time," Watt says. "I had no time to prepare; didn't get to pick out my outfit or anything. She's great. I had trouble just breathing."

Watt

o the hundreds of thousands of people who keep up with Watt via social media (a vast majority of whom don't have meals with The Terminator or photo ops with Rachel from "Friends"), the Texans' star defensive end -- and occasional goal-line tight end -- is living the dream. Yet even when he allegedly lets loose, Watt is still pouring out more sweat before breakfast than most people do in a week.

He and Arnett, who accompanied him on his trip to Los Angeles, woke up at 3:45 a.m. to sneak in a pre-dawn workout at USC before the first of Watt's many meetings with various Hollywood producers, agents and other would-be dealmakers. "We'd forgotten to tell the security people that we'd be coming, so we were trying to get into all these gates, and he was freaking out," Arnett recalls, laughing.

Says Watt: "I realize that absolutely everything that I have right now is because I'm a good football player. And that's not gonna change, and it's exactly why I wake up in L.A. at 3:45 in the morning to go work out before meetings, because that's the most important part of my day, the workout. Nothing will ever come before training."

Similarly, even though Watt has befriended many celebrities -- as well as successful people in other realms -- he regards their interactions as more than mere hanging out.

"We definitely talk about things career-wise -- how do you handle it, how do you get to be where you are?" Watt says. "I love learning about other industries. So I love learning about musicians and watching how they handle the crowd when they're onstage, or how they handle their meet-and-greets. I love having talks with business people -- 'How did you get successful and how did you stay successful?' Movie stars -- 'What makes you great? How do you get into the zone?'

"Let's say I go to a buddy's concert and I'm backstage -- I'm not necessarily watching the show just to enjoy the show. I'm watching how he interacts with the crowd. I'm watching when he takes certain moments to shake hands with people, how he raises the energy if he feels it going down. There are so many different aspects that you can learn from. And obviously I can't use everything in my own life, but I try and learn from it and say, 'OK, what can I use here, how can I apply this?' "

(As for tackling the fan who jumped onstage at the Zac Brown Band concert, which certainly seemed to have a suspiciously scripted feel? "The beauty's in the mystery, my friend," Watt says, smiling.)

When it comes to posting on social media, Watt could probably teach his famous friends a thing or two, as he perpetually manages to come off as relevant and entertaining without crossing any lines.

Says Arnett: "I think he could write a book on how to present yourself on social media."

Even Watt's tweets, however, are the product of careful preparation and discipline. "I know that my parents read social media, I know that my grandma sees my social media, and I know that there's a whole bunch of kids out there that see my social media," Watt says. "So every single time that I post something, I read it over and over and over again, from everybody's perspective -- from my grandma's perspective, to a little fifth-grader's perspective, to a parent's perspective, to my teammates' perspective, coaches, everybody. Just reading it over can make you re-think everything. There are plenty of tweets I don't send. A lot of 'em hit the chopping block."

His perfectionism extends to the way he interacts -- or forgets to interact -- with the people he loves most. Two years ago, he failed to call Jannsen on his birthday and didn't realize his mistake for several weeks.

"I just felt absolutely terrible about that," Watt says. "So now every year on his birthday, he gets treated better than anybody else. He gets a call, and I sing happy birthday to him. We kinda go the whole nine yards now."

Translation: From a birthday-hoopla standpoint, this might have been the best thing ever to happen to Jannsen, or anyone else.

Says Jannsen: "He goes big all the time for his friends. All he does is give, give, give and asks for nothing in return. We went to the Final Four [in Indianapolis, where Watt's alma mater played for a national championship, falling just short against Duke], and I had to be back to work the next morning -- so we took a private jet. That's the kind of person he is."

Ah, to be a bullish Badger fan with good looks and disposable income. When television cameras caught Watt sitting next to Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki during the Wisconsin-Duke title game, there was obvious speculation that they were a couple. Yet if it seems as though Watt is living a charmed dating life, he insists that isn't the case.

"People [I know] think that I've never dated before, or whatever," Watt says. "But I'm trying. I'm trying. I'm just unsuccessful. My schedule's so crazy and life's so busy, it just hasn't worked."

Does he get lonely? "Yeah," he says. "Trust me, I would love to have a wife and kids. I would very much enjoy that. But I also know that you have to be in the right place to do that. You have to find the right situation, and you have to be in that right mindset where you can give everything you have to that. Because whatever I do, I want to be the best at. I want to be the best husband. I want to be the best father. And I need to make sure that I have figured out the proper balance in my life so that I can give the proper time and energy that's needed for that situation."

Like many young celebrities, Watt worries about the motives of the potential partners who approach him. "Oh, absolutely," he says. "That's why it's so difficult. You don't know who wants you for you, who wants you for the money, who wants you for the fame. You have no idea. And how would you know? There's no way. So that's why you try and rely on family and friends. And then you talk about celebrities with other celebrities ... someone who's in a similar situation, so you know that they already have money and fame.

"But you can't think about love on paper like that. If you're thinking like that -- Does this person want me for me? -- then you're gonna have a hell of a hard time falling in love, 'cause you're constantly thinking about what they look like on paper. Trust me, it's a lot more difficult than I wish it was -- but I'm sure hoping to find the right one."

Watt has designs on starting a family some day, but right now, at age 26, life is just too hectic.
What makes this especially tricky is that Watt's vision for his post-football existence is in direct contrast to his current reality.

"See, like, when I picture myself after football, it's down home, coaching high school football, just a relaxing, normal life," Watt says. "And the problem with that is, I still have this life now. So you can't have somebody that's just gonna be OK in that life, 'cause you have to deal with all this craziness right now. So it'd have to be somebody that's OK with the craziness now, but also is gonna be perfectly fine sitting on the couch watching a movie on a Friday night, having a bonfire on a Saturday night, not doing anything. And that's hard to find."

Lest you think Watt is embellishing said "craziness," understand that his presence in Houston is often accompanied by hysteria. In June, for example, he joined "a buddy and his fiancée" for dinner, bowling and a movie, "and for bowling, we had to have three sheriffs stand behind our lane, 'cause there was a group of 40 or 50 people watching and taking pictures and stuff. You're trying to relax and you suck at bowling. You've got like a split down there and you've got 50 people with camera phones going straight to Instagram."

Fans flock to the man who's nabbed two of the past three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Says John Watt: "We went to dinner after a game one night, and we could hear the buzz as we prepared to walk out the door. J.J.'s 97-year-old great-grandma was with us, and when people rushed toward us, it was a little bit scary."

You know that infamous scene in "Ted 2" in which the protagonists pay a surreptitious visit to Tom Brady's house in the middle of the night? Watt hasn't experienced a situation quite that invasive, but he can definitely relate.

"You dream about the game-winning touchdowns, you dream about the sacks, but you never really think about the people coming and knocking on your door in the middle of the night, and the fans sneaking around your backyard and taking photos," he says. "We've had people come to my front door crying -- some because they were overcome by excitement, and some crying because they were begging for money. Yeah, it's wild, and we've seen it all.

"You have these questions all the time -- is it worth it to get security and go through the back entrance to go see a concert? Is it worth it to call ahead and go in the backdoor of a restaurant, and make them go out of their way to give you a table? Don't get me wrong: These are great, great problems to have, but it's that side you never thought about when you were coming up."




hen Watt talks about the madness, it's easy to understand why he plans a full retreat once his playing days are done. "When I picture it, I just picture myself on the front porch of my house, tossing a tennis ball for a dog, with a wife and a rocking chair and little kids running around," he says. "Coaching high school ball ... that's perfect to me. My buddies down the road coming over for a bonfire and just cracking some beers and having a good time and cooking up some barbecue. That's all."

But is it? Given Watt's competitive drive, penchant for perfectionism and expanding universe, won't there be attractive opportunities that pull him away from solitude? When all those Hollywood honchos tell him he could be the silver screen's next big action hero, won't he at least be tempted to try?

"I am [tempted], at times," Watt says. "We've had a lot of meetings about [acting], and I've realized that I can still get all my workouts in and get all my training in and still make it happen [over the offseason]. So it may happen in the future, but right now I'm much more focused on my current job than on the side job."

At the very least, he can hone his comedic chops, whether he's wearing a tuxedo and cracking up his straight-man/co-star by calling him "Old Boy" during the H-E-B shoot or lampooning his head coach at practice, as he did late last season. "He came out of the locker room and had everybody rolling," O'Brien says. "He had my look down, all the way to the white towel around my neck. He had a pillow inside his shirt, for my gut. He thought it was really funny. I guess it was."


And if it hadn't been? Chances are, Watt would have lambasted himself more mercilessly than anyone else ever could. That voice in his head that compels him to scream "Son of a gun!" after a botched take is the same unrelenting tone-setter that drives him toward what he hopes will leave an indelible impression upon the football-watching universe, long after his playing days are done.

"I think I'm always my biggest critic, no matter what," Watt says. "No matter what anybody else says, I always take the hardest look at myself. And I'm trying to be the best at everything I do. So yeah, if I screw up a take out here, I get pissed about it. I take everything hard."

On a muggy July afternoon, football's best defensive player removes his oversized overalls, changes back into workout gear and prepares to hit the road -- and, naturally, to hit the gym for the second time. If that makes him seem a little bit crazy, well, Watt can live with that label.

"I think a lot of people would probably say that," he says, draping a large backpack over his left shoulder and heading for the front door. "Because, I mean, I've dedicated my life to try to be great at a game. And at the end of the day, that's all it is -- it's a game. And sometimes I'll sit there and think, In 50 years, is anybody gonna care? Is anybody gonna care how hard I worked? Is anybody gonna care that I woke up at 3:45 in the morning to work out?"

At least one person will care -- and Watt sees that guy staring back at him in the mirror every night before he goes to bed, even when it's still light out.

"Exactly," he says. "So that's kind of what it always comes back to. Always."





credits
  • Story Editors: Ali Bhanpuri, Tom Blair, Gennaro Filice
  • Creative: Issiah Davis, Tobin Howard, Albert Lee, Robin Zibelli
  • Development: Tim Brady, Ward Gross, Jake Livingston, Billy Niemeyer
  • Photo Editors: Alix Drawec, Hayley Fisk, Aaron Gilliam, Ben Liebenberg
  • NFL Media: Tom Brady, Carmen Dukes, David Eaton, John Marvel, Eric Weinberger
  • Photos courtesy of: Associated Press, Houston Texans, @justinjames99