Now that J.J. Watt is in retirement, the closest thing to football he has is watching his younger brothers play on Sundays. Joining The Pat McAfee Show Friday, J.J. offered high praise for younger brother and Pittsburgh Steelers’ EDGE rusher T.J. Watt, saying that if he stays healthy, he’ll have the better career of the two.
“As long as he stays healthy and he’s able to, he should pass me in every single category,” J.J. told the show. “And I sure as hell hope he does. One-thousand percent. Because that means he was healthy.”
Through six seasons, T.J. has already established himself as one of the NFL’s best, just as J.J. had done at that point in his career. In fact, the two have nearly the same sack production through their first six years.
T.J. is already a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro. He’s on a clear track to reach 100+ career sacks and is on a legitimate Hall of Fame path. With even a couple more years of similar production, he’ll have punched his ticket into Canton.
The only concern is health. The sixth year hasn’t been kind to the Watts. That’s when J.J.’s body began to break down, playing only three games in 2016 due to multiple back surgeries. In 2017, he only played five games and though he returned to form in 2018, he was never quite the same player and struggled to make it through an entire season. Until 2022, T.J. had largely been a healthy player, but he suffered a partially torn pec in Week One, not returning until Week 10. Though he played in every game after, he battled a rib injury that limited his impact. Watt also underwent “minor” knee surgery prior to his return, which might have pushed his timeline back a week or two.
For J.J., he can’t help but think about how much better his career would’ve been had it not been for injuries and hopes T.J. avoids a similar fate. If he can, J.J. says his brother has a chance to have a historically good career.
“I said earlier in the program, I always wonder what would’ve happened had I been able to stay healthy. I hope that he is because he literally could, if he stays healthy, be on track to be one of if not the best ever.”
Assuming good health, Watt should finish 2023 as the Steelers’ all-time sack leader, though DT Cam Heyward will fight him every step of the way. J.J. finished his career with 114.5 sacks. T.J. currently sits at 77.5, a 37-sack difference. At the pace T.J. is on, he should surpass that number, though future injuries could become serious roadblocks.