For his first five seasons in the NFL, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt played in every game, 80 in all, and won three Defensive Player of the Year awards. In the process, he became one of the biggest crossover stars in the NFL and all of sports, landing spots in movies, commercials, and hosting high profile events like the Country Music Awards.
Over the last four seasons, though, Watt has appeared in half of the 64 games he could have played in, with only one completely healthy season, that coming in 2018, when he made first team All-Pro for a fifth time. Watt has been absent as much as he's been present, but if you need any proof that his health issues haven't diminished his "Q rating," it cam on Tuesday night, as it was announced that Watt would be performing one of the premier pop culture jobs in all of entertainment:
If you're part of Watt's inner circle and thinking about the sustainability of his brand in his post-playing days, Tuesday was a pretty good day for you. There are a lot of NFL players that NBC probably could have approached (and who knows, maybe they did), but they settled on Watt, even though he's spent more time rehabbing injuries than playing football the last four years. Pretty cool.
Watt was understandably thrilled:
SNL!!!!— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 21, 2020
I can’t even pretend to hide my excitement about this haha!
This is something truly special and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity from Lorne and everyone involved at @nbcsnl
New York City let’s have some fun!!! https://t.co/80WBtHS9Vv
Athletes, particularly NFL players, have been part of the SNL host pool before. The gold standard for performances by an athlete are probably those of the Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli, whose comedic chops were somewhat surprising, but in SNL annals now legendary:
Honestly, I didn't know Eli had that in him, but to be fair, the writers did a nice job of playing to his strengths and making sure he didn't have to do very much, which oddly enough, would have been a good suggestion for the New York Giants and their deployment of Eli in the last few years of his career.
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I think Watt will put together a strong performance, as he's become increasingly comfortable and self deprecating through the years. Hopefully, his writers feed him better material than this doozy of an insult he lobbed at Bengals QB Andy Dalton following a game back in 2015:
The host on SNL has to do the monologue. Just keep your eyes on that telestrator, J.J. Stay in your lane. You'll be fine.