Lt. John Watt faces an interesting dilemma this New Year’s: go and watch one son play in the Rose Bowl or go to the Houston Texans game and watch another son play.
He says it’s a good dilemma to have.
Watt is the father of three football-playing sons – J.J., a rookie defensive end for the Houston Texans, an NFL team that made it to the playoffs for the first time this year; Derek, a freshman linebacker with the Wisconsin Badgers; and T.J., a Pewaukee High School junior who just finished a notable season.
Watt is proud of all three sons’ football accomplishments but notes that what’s important is what they have learned by playing sports – teamwork, hard work and humility.
“What we’ve emphasized and like about sports is that it’s not just an individual thing but it’s a team thing. It’s not only about them,” he said. “That’s what they’ve learned from sports.”
He cites J.J.’s involvement in a charity foundation that provides sports opportunities for children as one example. However, “all three have made us really, really proud,” he said.
The Justin J. Watt Foundation works to provide afterschool athletic programs in Wisconsin and Houston middle schools that have insufficient funding for such programs.
A sports family
Growing up, the three boys participated in the youth football league in Pewaukee. Watt helped coach for the league and coached all three boys. When it was suggested that that must have been some coaching they received, he laughed and said he’d like to think so but he’s not sure if they would agree.
“I don’t know if I was more of a help or a hindrance. Anyway, the youth program has some pretty good coaches,” he said. “They really want to see the kids succeed and that makes all the difference.”
In the off season, the activities vary for each of the Watt boys but it was usually some other sport, J.J. with basketball, track and baseball; Derek with softball, track and baseball and T.J. with wrestling and track. They also work out – cardio and weightlifting.
Despite the hard work of juggling sports schedules for the family and the training involved, there’s also gratitude for what they’ve gained.
“Sports have been so good for our family,” Watt said.
With a football and sports history
Football might be in their blood. Watt himself grew up in a family of three boys who played football in high school and his older brother earned a berth playing with Colorado after college. He never got to play, though, due to injury.
Watt himself was a state champion, however in the shot put, something his oldest son picked up in the off-season. J.J. was never really interested in it until his senior year, when he decided he was going to do it.
“I told him there was more to it than he might think,” said Watt, laughing. “There is a lot of technique, too. Three months later, he was state champion.”
About the New Year’s game decision, it was an easy choice. They had already made a commitment to see J.J.’s game before the Badgers qualified for the Rose Bowl. And they just went to the Rose Bowl last year, when J.J. played with the Badgers. This year, they’ll celebrate New Year’s in Houston.
Super Bowl XLVI?
One last looming dilemma: if the 2012 Super Bowl features the Texans against the Packers, not an inconceivable scenario, who will Watt root for, his home team or the team his son plays for?
Watt said he’s definitely a Packers fan, but he’s come to like the Texans, a hard-fighting team that’s made it to the playoffs for the first time this year.
“If they do both make it to the Superbowl, that would be fantastic,” Watt said. “I told my friends that it would be O.K. if the Packers won, as long as J.J. had a good game and got to sack Aaron Rodgers a couple of times. ... Now I’m not so sure.”
It may come down to a game day decision. In any case, it would be all good, whichever of the two teams win, should they both make it to the Super Bowl.
“That would be a good problem to have,” he said.