Grantland on Thursday ran a fantastic story on J.J. Watt and his maniacal dedication to being the NFL’s best defensive player, inspired in part by his Houston Texans 2-14 record last season.

It includes: sleeping on his basketball trainer buddy’s floor while working out twice a day at the same Wisconsin gym he’s worked out at since he was 16 and only seeing his parents, on average, once a week, despite them being just minutes away.

Given the iffy judgment of a certain You Know Who, that kind of diligence is no guarantee from NFL stars, making Watt truly exceptional.

Maybe most fascinating about the piece is the revelation that, if not for a twist of fate, Watt wouldn’t be a Texan. According to the article, Houston had preferred to take with the 11th pick in the 2011 draft a 3-4 outside linebacker, to give then-defensive coordinator Wade Phillips the edge rusher he required. But with Von Miller (3rd overall) and Aldon Smith (7th) off the board, they settled for Watt.

“What If?” game, commence.

Of course, at the intersection of Watt’s aspiration on being the highest paid defensive player in football and current contract situation make for a massive payday eventually, especially given the money thrown around yesterday for fellow 2011 draft picks Patrick Peterson and Tyronn Smith, the first of that year’s rookies to get new deals. But if all goes well, Watt will make the mammoth investment he’ll likely command worth it.

It’s a Grantland piece, so be sure to set aside a few 37 minutes. But with just 10 days to the Texans preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Aug. 9, and the NFL’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and game between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills this weekend, it’s time well spent.


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