It has been all quiet on the J.J. Watt front since just before the Houston Texans Week 4 game against the Tennessee Titans. That is when J.J. sent out an Instagram post and tweet about adversity. Since that day on September, 28th there has been little known about what J.J. Watt was up to. The three team Defensive Player of the Year had back surgery for the second time in just a few months and was lost for the season. The only update coming a few weeks ago when we learned #99 was only allowed to walk.
Watt now has now taken to The Players’ Tribune to give us a glimpse into what he’s been doing since surgery and the scary moment no one knew about last season with Staph infection.
In the piece, titled “Am I Done” Watt describes the dark year he suffered through in 2015 as the Texans won the division despite using four quarterbacks and himself dealing with a number of injuries including a Staph infection that could have cost him his leg.
“One Friday night last season, I noticed some weird bumps on my knee. I thought it was a rash, so I went and asked our trainer if he had any cream.
He looked at my knee and said, ‘That looks really bad. We have to get you to the hospital right now.’
I thought he was joking at first. But then I could see in his face that he was serious and actually a bit panicked. As it turned out, he saved me in a big way. At the hospital, they immediately put me on three hours of the strongest antibiotic IVs. I went straight from the hospital to the team plane and we flew to Jacksonville. Once we landed, there were two more hours of antibiotics that night and two more the next morning before the game. The medicine had completely drained me, but I played — and we won.
I remember walking into the locker room after the game and just collapsing on the training table. My body was completely shot, with nothing left to give. As the trainers hooked me up to an IV, one of the guys walking past joked, “You alive?” Later that day on the flight back to Houston, one of the team doctors told me that if our trainer hadn’t recognized the problem so quickly, I could have lost my leg.”
That was during week six of the season for the Texans. They won that Jaguars game 31-20. It was the week before the embarrassing 26-44 loss to the Dolphins that seems to turn the season around for the Texans.
Watt not only had the scary Staph infection, he broke his hand, tore two abdominal muscles, three adductor muscles and herniated his a disc in his back, twice.
Watt had surgery to fix the fixable, worked his way back and was given clearance to come back to play, but it wasn’t enough. He re-herniated the disc in his back and his season was over. And as he revealed in his piece he wrote, he’s been spending time in his hometown of Pewaukee, Wisconsin. He was not allowed to train, play football, do anything more than walk. And in this, his first fall not playing football since he was 10-years old J.J. Watt had to answer a question, “Am I Done?”
Watt talks about his love for football, where it came from; watching a varsity pep rally as a fourth grader and seeing the starting quarterback J.J. Boyke made J.J. Watt want to play for the Pewaukee Pirates and start as quarterback.
Watt talked about his game-day routine as a high schooler, including soda and noodles with his best friend before the game, a long way away from his dietary strictness he adheres to now.
The moment for J.J. as he was in his hometown having to deal with the thought of retirement for the first time in his young life that answered the question he had in his head came when he saw some kids playing touch football, not unlike himself and his friends when he was young, the only difference, the kids today were wearing HIS jersey, HIS shoes.
When he finally answered his question Watt ended the piece with this:
“Yes, over the last year, I’ve been through some dark times, and my body was beat up more than most people probably realize. But I’ve learned that a life without adversity is a boring life to live. I’ve experienced the highs, and I’ve experienced the lows, and both are better than living in the middle.
The kid in me is back.
Am I done?
I’m just getting started.”
J.J. Watt will look to make his return for the Texans most likely at the start of the 2017 season, even if the Texans make the playoffs, the likelihood of his return this year is minimal.