J.J. Watt is a pro when it comes to social media.
From posting cute videos of his dogs to helping out a student with a school project, Watt has figured out how to be authentically himself while entertaining and engaging with fans.
However, social media also has a dark side, one that the three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year discovered early on in his career. During a podcast interview with Pat McAfee, Watt admits that he was once eager to prove his critics wrong and earn respect as a young NFL player.
Instead, he learned an important lesson when it comes to Twitter, Instagram and the media.
“I used to read Twitter all the time," Watt said. "I used to read all the stories, I used to read all the articles and I let it mess with me early on because you get mad about it. I’m getting mad about somebody at ESPN who writes an article and says that I’m No. 2 instead of No. 1. I’m getting mad because this person didn’t vote for me for Defensive Player of the Year. Finally I learned and I realized, why do I care? Why do I care what this person has to say?”
During his back-to-back seasons cut short by injuries in 2016 and 2017, Watt’s mindset began to shift. After missing 24 games in two seasons after undergoing back surgery and leg surgery for a gruesome tibial plateau fracture, Watt often worried if he would ever play again. Social media either amplified those fears for Watt or dismissed him completely.
“I think the injuries really helped me with that because when I was injured for two years in a row, you realize how quickly people forget about you,” Watt said. “So why am I putting so much stock into what these people say when five years after my career, they are not going to care about me? So I learned to put my stock into my family, into my friends and teammates and really that is the most important thing to me now.”
To hear the full interview with Watt, click here.
Check out the best shots of DE J.J. Watt from the 2018 season.