Where do I begin?
Twelve years ago, I sat there in New York City on draft night not knowing where I'd end up, not knowing what my life might look like the next day or where I'd be calling home for the next however many years. I was just a kid who was excited to be living out the dream that so many of us have had since we were running around in the backyard.
Then the moment came. "With the 11th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select J.J. Watt, defensive end from Wisconsin."
This is crazy. I just got drafted in the first round. Hug my parents, hug my brothers, hug my high school coaches. Damn, I gotta get to the stage. Somebody hands me a hat: Houston.
I'd never been to Houston. I didn't know much about it. Got back to my hotel room that night, clicked onto social media, saw the draft party boos. That's ok, they don't know me. No worries, just a new challenge and a new opportunity to change some peoples' minds.
Next morning, hop on a plane, land in Houston. This is it. This is my home now. Let’s get to work.
From the first moment I stepped off that plane in Houston twelve years ago to this moment, as you're reading this right now, all I've wanted to do is make you proud. I knew it wouldn't be easy. I knew it was going to take a lot of work. I knew I would have to put in the effort to earn your trust, to learn your history, to appreciate what makes this city so special.
Thankfully, I had an abundance of incredible people to help me do that. From teammates and coaches to trainers, equipment staff, cafeteria workers, Houston legends, athletes, artists, media members, restaurant workers and everyone in between.
This city welcomed me as one of their own. YOU welcomed me as one of your own.
We've been through a lot together. Some incredible highs and some horrific lows. But we always did it together.
Twelve years ago, when I stepped off that plane, I wasn't entirely sure what lied ahead.
Today, every single time I step off a plane in Houston, I feel one thing…
Houston is Family.
I love you H-Town. And I can’t wait to see you on Sunday. - J.J. Watt