J.J., however, is not the only member of the Watt family competing in the NFL. His younger brothers, T.J. and Derek, are both in the NFL. Neither are new to the league, but many are asking–can they live beyond their brothers’ shadow?
Obviously, with three brothers playing the same league, there is bound to be a little bit of a rivalry. They did, after all, grow up playing against each other. They’ve spoken many times and at great length about growing up with a football-loving grandfather, their clashes as children, and how they all drove each other to be the best that they can be. From the Harbaughs to the Mannings, family dynamics play a big part in the NFL. This leads to constant comparisons, but each of the brothers has carved a career that they can be proud of.
Older brother J.J. has set up quite a legacy for his younger brothers to live up to. After entering the league in 2011, he began to have an impact almost immediately. His eight seasons, all of them with the Houston Texans, have been filled with Pro Bowl appearances, First-Team All-Pro selections, and defensive play that make opponents fear him and his teammates look up to him.
Watt’s defense is legendary. He has amassed 92 sacks, 457 tackles, and hundreds of highlight play throughout his career. Although his 2016 and 2017 seasons were marred with injuries that only allowed him to play in eight games, he was back to his superstar form during the previous season. Entering his thirties, we do not know how much longer Watt will be able to do the things he has become synonymous with, but if his career ended today, his two younger brothers would already have big shoes to fill.
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Middle brother Derek Watt is the black sheep of his football-playing siblings, as he is the only one among them who plays on the offensive end of the field. Although he has never been able to become a full-time starter, he has proven to be a valuable player off the bench for the Chargers in his first three in the NFL. Perhaps, playing on the other side of the field could mean that he is free to live independently of his brothers’ shadows, but it does mean that they can come face-to-face if their teams play.
Derek has gotten the least amount of opportunity of the three, having started in only 11 of his first 48 games in the NFL, but he has played in all 48 games in which he was eligible to play.
Rarely the number one option, he has had to capitalize on his limited opportunities rushing for just 39 yards and amassing only 120 receiving yards on 7 receptions. If his role expands, however, Derek could become a big-time player on the offensive end.
J.J.’s brother may not have the superstar accolades of his brother, but his first two years in the NFL, both of them with the Pittsburgh Steelers, were impressive showings. While his native position is as an outside linebacker, he has played at J.J.’s position from time to time and done quite well in the process. While it would be unfair to only put T.J. in his brother’s shadow, he has shown himself to be a great NFL player who could have a lot of potential.
T.J. has started in each of his first 31 games and amassed 20 sacks and 120 tackles in the beginning years of his career. If he can continue to grow as he did from his first year to his second year, he could be in this league for a very long time. He made what could be his first Pro Bowl appearance of many last season, and looks to expand past that.