To quarterbacks across the National Football League there is no player more terrifying than Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt.
Most larger than life NFL stars use the offseason to partake in activities that might draw the attention of TMZ. See Rob Gronkowski’s shirtless partying antics. But Watt, who had one of the dominant defensive seasons in NFL history, is turning heads with his positive activity off the field.
It all started while beating up on the Jacksonville Jaguars back in November. Watt sacked quarterback Chad Henne and pantomimed the act of rolling a wheelchair. This sack dance with a tribute to three Houston area children who were seriously injured in an automobile accident that claimed the lives of their parents. Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle explains:
It was a nod to the Berry children, with whom Watt has grown close.
“I was eating dinner at their house on Friday night,” Watt said. “They said they’re going to be watching the game. They said give us a signal. I said OK, when I get a sack, I’ll do the wheelchair.”
Willa, Aaron and Peter Berry were orphaned July 2, 2011, when a head-on collision on U.S. 285 killed their parents. The accident severely injured Willa, who was then 6, and paralyzed Aaron, then 8, and Peter, then 9, from the waist down.
Watt befriended the children beyond the occasional fundraiser. He played wheelchair basketball with them last week, which gave him the idea for the post-sack celebration.
The story gained national attention when Rick Reilly feature J.J. Watt and the Berry children on ESPN.
Then in mid-January a six-year-old Houston Texas fan took to Twitter tearfully explaining that she was too young to marry J.J. Watt. The video blew up on the internet and it found it’s way into J.J.’s inbox. What happened next from the NFL’s unanimous Defensive Player of the Year is quite remarkable explains Christina Ng of ABC News:
About two weeks later, the video made its way to Watt, who tweeted, “Does anyone happen to know this cute little girl? We have to find her and turn those tears into a smile.”
(Breanna’s mother Lindsey) Bartay said she received some negative comments from people saying she was trying to get something from Watt by posting the video, so when he finally called and said he wanted to meet Breanna, Bartay was initially reluctant.
“But he was like, ‘No, no. I really want to do it for her,’” Bartay recalled.
Watt wanted to surprise his young fan, so he set up a tour of the Houston Texans Reliant Stadium for her. When Breanna asked her mom if Watt would be there, Bartay said that he couldn’t be there because he had an early flight and wouldn’t be able to make it.
Breanna was disappointed but thrilled to see the giant photos of Watt in the stadium. A tour guide walked the family through the gift shop, and a surprise was waiting in the next room.
“When we walked through the next room, he was down on one knee with the Ring Pop in his hand and he said, ‘Breanna, come here,’” Bartay said.
At first, Breanna thought Watt was a statue, saying to her mother, “He looks so real.”
“Then she walked over to him and he said, ‘I know we can’t really get married, but would you be my pretend wife for the day? And she said yes,” Bartay recalled with a laugh. “Then he said, ‘Thank goodness. I didn’t know what I was going to do if you said no. I was so nervous. I’ve never fake proposed before.’”
While in New York City gearing up for the big Super Bowl weekend and the media blitz that goes along with it J.J. stopped by to get his head shaved into a mohawk by AXE Hair. Not only did he land a cool new look using AXE Hair Spiking Glue but he also raised money for a great cause.
Here is a before and after:
Not saying we would get a mohawk anytime soon but J.J. can definitely pull the gravity defying look off. The icing on the cake is that AXE was gracious enough to donate $50,000 to The Justin J. Watt Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing after-school opportunities to students at middle schools with insufficient funding.
As we’ve seen, J.J. has an innate ability to make his fans dreams come true. And he didn’t stop at the proposal to his biggest fan or his gracious charity mohawk’ing.
When a wedding photo of a newly wed couple’s life-sized J.J. Watt wedding cake exploded on the web, Watt took notice and surprised the pair. Katie Kindelan of ABC News explains:
“It all started with a not-so-simple groom’s cake at the Jan. 19 wedding of Nathan and Stephanie Poe, diehard Texans’ fans. The Poes had planned to have their second wedding cake feature just the Texans’ logo but that idea was set aide when they discovered their baker, Nadine Moon, owner of Houston’s “Who Made The Cake?” bakery, had experience making life-size cakes.
Instead, the Poes opted for a full-size replica of JJ Watt from the waist-up. The cake, which Stephanie Poe would say only was “priceless,” stole the show at the couple’s Texas wedding, so much so that a groomsmen tweeted it to Darren Rovell of ESPN.
Rovell just happens to be one of the only 106 people Watt follows on Twitter, so when Rovell re-tweeted the cake photo, Watt asked him for the couple’s address so he could send a wedding present.
“He called me at work yesterday and said that JJ Watt wanted to send us a wedding present and that’s why he needed my address,” Stephanie, a recruiter for Reliant in Houston, said of the surprise call.
Later that day, Stephanie Poe was at home finishing an interview with a local TV station about the couple’s cake when she got an even bigger surprise.
JJ Watt had forgone the mail service and was standing in the hallway of the couple’s apartment bearing wedding gifts.
“He brought us autographed jerseys and cleats,” Stephanie said. “I just said, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
The only downside of this wedding fairytale? Stephanie’s husband, and Watt’s biggest fan, Nathan, wasn’t there to see it. Poe, as he is called, works in the oil industry and is one week into his 21-day offshore rotation.
Poe didn’t find out about his hero’s welcome until last night when he and Stephanie spoke by phone in their once-daily call.
“As happy as he was, he was very disappointed he missed it,” Stephanie said. “He told me it was the equivalent of Taylor Swift stopping by while I was at work and me missing it.”
Not one to leave a fan hanging, Watt recorded a message for Poe on Stephanie’s iPhone.
“Poe, I’m here with your new wife,” Watt says in the video. “I just want to say congratulations and thanks so much for including me.”
Stephanie says Watt was most impressed by the two TVs the couple has in their living room, one for watching regular TV and one for watching Texans’ football, something Poe does even while he is away.
“When he’s offshore, he wakes up during the day and watches the games and then goes to work the next day with no sleep,” Stephanie said of her devoted husband. “It’s really his love for JJ Watt of why we had the cake and how this all happened.”