It was maybe the most unusual, if not admirable, piece of fan mail J.J. Watt had ever received.
A seven-year-old’s football jersey, autographed by the sender himself, with a special message attached:
Just so you know who I am when I’m famous for playing NFL football. Just like you.
“Surely he has the confidence to do whatever he wants in this world,” Watt said. “I thought that was funny. You get all the fan mail, a lot of it starts to become the same. It was something that stuck out. I thought it was pretty funny.”
Watt, a top candidate for NFL MVP amid a monstrous 2014 season, took pictures of his gift package and shared them with his 592,000 Twitter followers.
I am 7 years old. My name is Anthony Tarantelli and I am your biggest fan. People call me J.J. because I also play DE and TE like you. I wear number 99 like you too. I was the most feared rusher in my league this year. I am sending you my autographed game jersey so you will know me when I am a famous NFL player.
99 rocks! Your friend Anthony.
Watt enjoyed a laugh when he got it, and when the local media asked him about it on Wednesday.
“To me it’s one of the coolest things in the world,” Watt said. “Because I was that little kid at some point. Everybody was. You grow up playing football in the backyard, you grow up playing Pee Wee ball, and you wish and you hope and you dream to someday play in the NFL. Unfortunately, not everybody gets to reach those dreams. I did. I’m very, very fortunate.
“It’s always fun when you see something like that, because it makes you really step back and have a little bit of perspective and appreciate where you are, and it makes you want to work that much harder, because you know how many people wish they were in your shoes, and I think that’s why it means so much to me.”
But Watt said the underlying message, that there are a lot of young eye balls on Watt and everything he does — on and off the field — comes with a responsibility. One Watt takes very seriously.
“Whether we want to be role models or not, we are,” Watt said. “I really embrace that.”
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