For the past several years, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt, 26, has had a promotional wingman in his older brother J.J., the latter of whom has been known to compliment his brother’s play via both traditional media and social media, sometimes while the Steelers are on television.
On New Year’s Eve, during his midweek press conference, the 31-year-old Houston Texans defensive lineman—and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year—was at it again.
“[T.J.] does everything unbelievably well,” said the elder Watt. “He leads the league in sacks, tackles for loss, quarterback hits. He can drop into coverage and cover guys. He’s disruptive in so many ways, and he’s on a team that obviously has won the division and is doing extremely well.”
The latest praise for his younger brother’s play comes in the context of T.J. being one of the favorites to win Defensive Player of the Year, perhaps even the odds-on favorite.
“I would say I shouldn’t have to stump for him,” added J.J. “Everything he has done stands on its own, but I would have said the same thing last year, so I will stump for him.”
Never mind that T.J. Watt’s success gives J.J. the opportunity to engage in what could be seen as humblebragging—and what perhaps is a humblebrag from T.J.’s perspective.
“He is more than deserving of Defensive Player of the Year and I would be stunned if he did not come home with one, which [would] remain two less than I have,” said J.J., matter-of-factly.
Basically, J.J. Watt takes every opportunity to remind his little brother that he has much to accomplish before he can hope to reach his level of success.
In September, when he was asked when he started to regard T.J. as a peer, he said: “Once he has three Defensive Player of the Year awards, I’ll start to see him as a peer.”
This isn’t to say T.J. doesn’t try to clap back—except it usually doesn’t work out well for him.
This spring he responded to one of his brother’s workout tweets by asking, “Am I supposed to be impressed by this?”
J.J. snapped back with: “Am I supposed to be impressed by you ‘almost’ winning defensive player of the year?”
Mike Tomlin’s Otherworldly Quote
Meanwhile, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has been unequivocal in his praise for T.J. Watt.
Early this week he made the case for Watt as DPOY in earnest when he said: “T.J. is visiting from another planet. He has freakishly unique talent coupled with freakishly unique work habits and mindset, and it produces what you guys witness every week, which in my opinion is Defensive Player of the Year quality.”
T.J. Watt’s teammates have also communicated their praise for his play—and work ethic—most visibly by naming him Team MVP for the second year in a row.
“The [Team MVP] award is very important to me because it’s the people that see me on a regular basis, the work that I put in not only on the field but off the field. I am just really grateful the guys thought enough of me to vote me MVP, but it really is a team award. We’re all here, and I am here to win a Super Bowl,” said T.J. on New Year’s Eve, having noted that the Steelers winning a Super Bowl would likely quiet his big brother in a hurry.
J.J. Watt Remains No. 1 on Social Media
But until then—or until T.J. raises his social media game—he’ll continue to be overshadowed by his elder.
Earlier this year, when T.J. replied to one of J.J.’s tweets with a note that said, in effect, “nobody cares,” J.J. shot back with:
Just his way of reminding his brother that he has 5.5 million followers on Twitter, compared to T.J.’s relatively paltry 377,000.
For what it’s worth, their brother Derek, who plays fullback for the Steelers, has a mere 107,000 followers on Twitter.
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