J.J. Watt now refers to his shortened 2016 season as a sort of "mini-retirement."
Not the relaxing kind, but more of one that took him away from the game of football and forced him to be a spectator.
"Talk about perspective, it also gave you perspective when I got to go back and be on the sidelines and watch those guys and see the ups and downs of a game from a viewer's perspective instead of a player's perspective," Watt said Monday on the Pardon My Take podcast. "I think that definitely helped me understand when you need to say certain things and when you need to back off and certain times when somebody needs to make a play."
Watt played just three games last year, before suffering a season-ending back injury in Week 3 at New England. When his doctors cleared him following his surgery, Watt stood on the sideline for the final month of the 2016 season.
The NFL's three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year mostly watched from his couch though, as the Texans defense became the best in the league. It may have been a tough pill to swallow, but Watt wasn't discouraged by the success his teammates had without him. Instead, Watt says he has a renewed focus for 2017.
"I think you know what you can bring to the table," Watt said. "So if I was coming back as a lesser version of me, then I'd say, aw these guys are going to be a hell of a lot better without me. Knowing the way we went about things and the way that I'm going to come back, you don't feel that nearly as much. I could see how you would think that, but no. You just take more pride. It's so much fun to watch those guys play and to watch them have a blast out there and you just want to be a part of it again."
J.J. Watt--from his time as a Texan back to his Wisconsin Badger days--is featured here in photos.