It started as a relatively modest (well, relative to where it ended up) organizing of a charitable endeavor, born partially out of a kind heart and partially out of desperation when he couldn't be there to help in person. And in the end, it can be stated with authority — J.J. Watt's charity website to raise money for victims of Hurricane Harvey might be the feel-good story of the year in the NFL.
After opening up the site whose address Houstonians can now recite in their sleep — you caring dot com slash J.J. Watt...you caring dot com slash J.J. Watt...you caring dot com slash J.J. Watt — Watt decided to close things up this past weekend so that he could get on with the business of determining to whom and how the finds will be allocated.
The final tally is staggering...
The actual amount ended up at $37,131,917 from 209,429 separate donors, so a little bit higher than that Instagram post, and the final tally included seven-figure donations from Ellen DeGeneres (courtesy of Walmart), Jimmy Fallon, the Tennessee Titans and H-E-B. The whole endeavor is a remarkable testament to the generosity of others, the mettle of and belief in J.J. Watt, and the human spirit in general.
As the charitable initiative wound down its "giving" portion, Watt sent the following message to his millions of followers...
Obviously, there is a ton of work to be done around the city of Houston, but as relates to this particular campaign spearheaded by Watt, the next intriguing wrinkle will be the recognition he receives for his efforts. Last week Watt was named the NFLPA's Community MVP for his work in the days since returning to Houston post-Harvey, which means he becomes a semifinalist for the NFLPA's Byron "Whizzer" White Award, which is given annually by the players association to recognize the charitable efforts of their players. Also, it's safe to assume that Watt will garner heavy support to be named the league's Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.