On Tuesday night, the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Award Show took place in Los Angeles. Arizona Cardinals star J.J. Watt was in attendance for this prestigious event.
Watt and several other notable figures were at the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Award Show to support the next generation of athletes.
We caught up with J.J. Watt to discuss his latest work with Gatorade, mindset heading into the 2022 season and more.
The Spun: Gatorade’s Athlete of the Year Program is the most prestigious high school award in the country - what does it mean for you to be able to support the next generation of athletes?
JJ Watt: It’s awesome to be here and to witness them. To see everything they’ve accomplished so far - not only on the field, but in the classroom and community - is special. It’s an honor for me to be here and I’m excited to see their next steps.
The Spun: You’re entering Year 2 in Arizona. Do you feel more comfortable heading into this season?
JJ: There’s definitely more comfort, but I think there’s also even more of a sense of urgency. Last year, we started 7-0. We know what we’re capable of when we’re playing on top of our game. The goal this season is to finish the year playing at the top of our game.
The Spun: Whether it’s cracking jokes with Rondale Moore or Zach Ertz, you like to have fun with your teammates. Who’s the biggest jokester in the Cardinals locker room?
JJ: Rondale and I have some good battles. We got jokesters all over the locker room. That’s the best part of this. Players say when they leave the game they miss the locker room the most. It makes sense.
The Spun: I’m curious. When you play such a demanding position like defensive end, do you ever have thoughts of retirement creep into the back of your mind either before or during an NFL season?
JJ: Anyone who tells you they don’t think about it at any point is probably telling a bit of a fable, but I think once the season starts, that all goes away. You’re just focused on one goal. You think about it during college, you think about it in high school. I have the best job in the world. It’s mentally and physically demanding, but that’s what makes it so great.
The Spun: The Madden ratings recently came out and NFL fans were a bit disappointed that your brother T.J. wasn’t given a 99 overall. Do you think he was snubbed?
JJ: I don’t think TJ cares a whole lot, to be honest. He’s the best damn defender in the league and I don’t think he cares about his video game rating.
The Spun: You and your wife announced earlier this year that you’re expecting your first child. How excited are you for that chapter of your life?
JJ: Extremely excited. We can’t wait. It’s going to be a new chapter for us. It’s going to be special.
The Spun: Your golf skills took a hit this past weekend. What’d you make of that?
JJ: I got crushed. 10 minutes after we woke up, I watched The Open and she hit me with that line. She came out too hot on a Sunday morning. I wasn’t ready for that.
The Spun: The Cardinals start Week 1 with a matchup against the Chiefs. You’ve faced Patrick Mahomes before. What kind of challenges does he bring to the table?
JJ: Pat is one of the best in the game, obviously. He has the mobility to move around and do whatever he wants to, and he has the arm strength to make any throw. When you combine those two things, he can give you trouble. He has great command, he’s a great leader. You love challenges like that though because that’s what the NFL is about.
The Spun: I saw you recently celebrated your brother’s wedding. So, which Watt brother is the best dancer?
JJ: It’s a landslide nobody. We are not good dancers. If you put a few drinks in us, we might think we’re good dancers. But we’re really not.
The Spun: You are one of three players with at least 72 sacks in your first five seasons. The other two are Reggie White and T.J. Watt. What do you think when you see a statistic like that?
JJ: There aren’t many times in my career where I see a stat and say, ‘Wow that’s good.’ But when I saw that one today, I thought that was special. I grew up idolizing Reggie White. He was my favorite football player growing up. So to be on that list is special. But then to also see my brother right behind me on the list makes it an unbelievable achievement.
The Spun: Which quarterback are you looking forward to sacking next season?
JJ: I always say whoever is next. In this case, the guy who’s next is someone I haven’t sacked yet. Mahomes is the guy that I’m looking to sack.
In his first season with the Cardinals, J.J. Watt had 16 tackles, 10 quarterback hits and one sack in seven games.
Watt is hopeful that he’ll capture a Lombardi Trophy this upcoming season.
The Cardinals will kick off their 2022 season on Sept. 11 against the Chiefs.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.