The Hard Knocks experience during the preseason gave us a very clear window into the personalities (or lack thereof) of some of our favorite Houston Texans, so if I'm making my list of players I'd like to see miked up for Inside the NFL, the default switch is no longer just a three-pronged knob that reads "WATT CUSHING FOSTER."
I'd add settings on that knob for Charles James, Chris Polk, Ben Jones and the collective comedic genius of Johnatheem Jackseph (my name for the collective brain and shoulders shared by Kareem jackson and Johnathan Joseph), as well. That's just me. Now, I understand that eyeballs and ratings drive the television engine, so at the end of the day, all roads probably lead back to 99. No, not the Grand Parkway, I'm talking about Justine James Watt.
On this week's episode of Inside the NFL, the producers conveniently miked up Watt for one of his most dominant performances of the season — the eight-tackle, two-sack masterpiece that he cranked out on Sunday in a 24-6 squashing of the Saints. Here is the video, with a few thoughts afterwards…
See, all you women and children out there think J.J. is just some sweetheart who loves puppy dogs and ice cream (and he very well may love both of those things, especially if the ice cream is from H-E-B), but he has a verbal bullying game that is just as efficient as his swim move. My favorite highlights from this footage:
1:00: "You guys might want to try somebody else at right tackle...I like Drew; I don't like hitting him like that." That's nice of J.J. to take such a keen interest in Drew Brees's well-being.
1:47: "That was a nice hit, actually." Right alongside all of his amazing plays on Sunday, this part might be equal proof of how stout physically Watt is. He gets violently blindsided by a 330-pound beast, and is like "Oh, whatevs…nice hit there, Sparky…" I'm pretty sure most of us would be out of work for like two weeks after that hit.
2:31: Watt and Cushing in a healthy debate over whether or not an intentional grounding should still count as a sack. (YES, PEOPLE, J.J. WATT CARES ABOUT HIS NUMBERS! AND IT'S OKAY!!!) We actually debated this up in the press box on this play as well. (Actually, we didn't debate it so much as we all sort of looked at each other and wondered what the rule was, just a sea of media cluelessness. Pretty awesome.)
2:48: J.J, taunts Drew Brees with some sarcastic waves to him as the Saints are huddling. At this point, Watt is just toying with them.
So, see! J.J. Watt can be a big meanie! Thankfully, the league reminded us that there are two J.J. Watts — the one who likes to give Drew Brees and his linemen atomic wedgies, and the one who showers middle schools across the land with funds for after-school sports via his foundation, and for the latter, the league recognized him as the Texans' finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which recognizes commitment to philanthropy and helping the community.
The award is given to a player highlighted for excellence on and off the field, and is named after Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, who died in 1999. Each team has one nominee; here is this season's list:
Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson
Atlanta Falcons: Patrick DiMarco
Baltimore Ravens: Steve Smith Sr.
Buffalo Bills: Eric Wood
Carolina Panthers: Greg Olsen
Chicago Bears: Matt Forté
Cincinnati Bengals: Carlos Dunlap
Cleveland Browns: Gary Barnidge
Dallas Cowboys: Brandon Carr
Denver Broncos: David Bruton Jr.
Detroit Lions: Stephen Tulloch
Green Bay Packers: Sam Barrington
Houston Texans: J.J. Watt
Indianapolis Colts: Dwayne Allen
Jacksonville Jaguars: Zane Beadles
Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Berry
Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill
Minnesota Vikings: Chad Greenway
New England Patriots: Devin McCourty
New Orleans Saints: Benjamin Watson
New York Giants: Eli Manning
New York Jets: Eric Decker
Oakland Raiders: Justin Tuck
Philadelphia Eagles: Connor Barwin
Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward
San Diego Chargers: Darrell Stuckey
San Francisco 49ers: Anquan Boldin
Seattle Seahawks: Richard Sherman
St. Louis Rams: Chris Long
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vincent Jackson
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Tennessee Titans: Delanie Walker
Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan
See, everybody! Richard Sherman and J.J. Watt are not so different!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.