JJ Watt hears the whispers.
Will he ever be the same? Is he finished?
After multiple back surgeries, and a lost season in 2016, Watt said today at NRG Stadium that he knows what’s being said about him.
He doesn’t care, either.
“Nah,” Watt said. “I see em all. I know em all. I’ve heard em all. You hear doubters. You hear everything.
“I’ve heard everything from, You get constantly injured and things like that. I mean, these are the first games I’ve ever missed, this last season. So it’s not like I’ve been hurt every single year. It’s not like it’s been some sort of, like, over and over again thing.”
Heading into last season, Watt, 28, had played every game of his five-year NFL career with the Houston Texans, winning Defensive Player of the Year honors three times and putting himself on a Hall of Fame pace.
But he was also coming off of major back surgery, and after their third game of the season, against the New England Patriots, Watt and the Texans medical staff decided it was best to shut him down for the year.
He underwent an additional procedure shortly thereafter.
“It was a very serious last year for me, Watt said. “It was a very tough year for me.
“But the only way I can ever be as good as I wanna be, is if I’m confident in it. The only way I’ll ever be truly the player that I want to get back out there and be, for my teammates and for these fans, is to go out there and be confident. To work my ass off every single day, and to just be who I know I can be.”
Watt isn’t thinking about the odds that he gets hurt again, he said, nor is he dwelling on whether he’ll return to his Best Player on the Planet form. All he’s worried about, he said, is what he can control — being the hardest, and smartest, worker that teammates and fans have ever seen.
“If something happens, it happens,” Watt said.
“But all I can do is go out there and be as smart (as I can be) , and play as hard as I possibly can, and try and be the best teammate I can be for these guys, and that’s all I’m gonna do, because that’s the only way I know how to play.”
Matt hosts Saturdays from 1-4 pm on SportsRadio 610. You can, and totally should, follow him on Twitter @MattHammondShow.