ESPN's E: 60, a popular magazine-style program that runs some solid features that are usually good for two or three tearjerking moments per episode, ran a feature Tuesday night on a topic that I thought had been covered from so many angles that there were no new angles remaining —- JUSTIN JAMES WATT!
The feature ran for the first two-thirds of the 60-minute show and was your standard visual biography of the "kid from Pewaukee," who was born with plus-level genetics, an over-the-top work ethic, baby blue eyes and a dream. In all seriousness, it was a pretty solid piece of work by ESPN and interviewer Chris Connelly. Go figure, there were actually things that I did NOT know about J.J. Watt, despite doing roughly 8,000 segments of all-J.J. radio and scribbling nearly a million words worth of blog about him.
If you haven't seen the feature yet, here it is…
I know some of you sicko weirdos who obsess over J.J. probably knew everything in this feature already, but these are the new things that I learned in watching "Never Given: The J.J. Watt Story":
1. As a bicycle-pedaling (what appears to be around) five-year-old, J.J. had a glorious blond mullet that would make every NHL player from 1983 through yesterday jealous. Also, at first, you could hear young J.J. mutter "I can't do it" when he was trying to ride the bike. I'm assuming that a few minutes after this bit of footage, young J.J. bench-pressed the bike 51 times and threw it into the lake.
2. J.J.'s mom made him and his brothers do homework in the summertime, which is basically a green light now for all parents in the greater Houston area to do the same thing with their kids. "Hey, if you want to grow up to be like J.J. Watt, you gotta do summer homework!! Now get to reading To KIll A Mockingbird before I kill YOU!!!"
3. When J.J. was seven, he stated his ambition to become an NFL player in his elementary school year book, saying he wanted to be the next Reggie White. Little did we know, he might become a better player than Reggie White (and with significantly more enlightened views on Asian and Mexican people).
4. A lanky young-ninth grade J.J. wanted to be a quarterback, and he had a great arm! He could sling it deep, but his undoing was throwing a simple bubble screen. (Basically, young J.J. was Ryan Mallett before there was a Ryan Mallett.) So they moved him to tight end and defensive end. So basically, if J.J. Watt could throw a bubble screen, the Texans would have probably drafted the equivalent of a broomstick with a bucket for a head in 2011.
5. I knew J.J. started his college career at Central Michigan, but as it turns out, the reason he was so lightly recruited was that his senior year was torpedoed by mono. It would seem that his eschewing of a girlfriend during his NFL career could be an overreaction to the devastation of "the kissing disease" in high school.
6. No joke here, and we knew the broad strokes of his journey — going to Wisconsin as a walk-on, delivering pizza, etc. But kudos to J.J. Watt for having the balls to chase his dream to play at Wisconsin and to his parents for stepping up to pay for him to go there, if need be. Honestly, I love seeing gambles pay off. That's some stones to walk away from a full ride, even if it's at a MAC directional school. Respect, J.J.
7. J.J. actually delivered pizzas for Pizza Hut, which means somewhere Papa John was watching that and probably threw a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew at his TV screen.
8. We all knew this anyway, but it bears repeating — we here in Houston all booed the pick of J.J. Watt the night he was taken in 2011. You booed it…and you….and yeah, you over there…look at me! Yeah, YOU DID, TOO! The moral of the story — we all suck.
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9. Not so much something I learned as it is a question or observation — has Marc Vandermeer's voice been part of more ESPN and NFL Network highlight packages in the last two years of J.J. Watt's ascension than the previous decade combined?
10. Anybody who's lost a parent or grandparent, well…the scene about J.J.'s grandfather passing away…the room became a little dusty.
And with one more "always gonna be the kid from Pewaukee, Wisconsin," the show was over. Damn, he's good.
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.