The NFL has a long history of brothers who both make it into the league. In the majority of cases, those siblings don’t end up playing on the same team together — a fact that can lead to some pretty entertaining rivalries. Football fans from the 2000s fondly remember matchups between Ronde Barber’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his twin brother Tiki’s New York Giants.
In today’s league, the best sibling rivalry is undoubtedly that between T.J. and J.J. Watt. A recent Sports Illustrated profile highlighted the intensity of the two brothers’ relationship. At one point, T.J. admitted to knowing the perfect way to shut his brother J.J. up once and for all.
Both brothers have respectable NFL careers
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected T.J. Watt with the 30th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4 linebacker quickly proved his use, notching seven sacks and 54 combined tackles as a rookie.
Those numbers shot up to 13 sacks and 68 combined tackles in the 2018 season. T.J. received a Pro Bowl selection that year, and then again in 2019.
T.J. is considered one of the most formidable defensive players in the league. Prior to the 2020 season, NFL.com Network ranked T.J. as the 25th best player in the NFL — a massive jump from his No. 93 ranking the year before. Through three games, Watt has already made 3.5 sacks and 9 combined tackles, with 10 quarterback hits.
The Houston Texans drafted T.J.’s older brother J.J. with the 11th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. In nine complete seasons so far, the 6-foot-5 defensive end has racked up a ton of NFL honors.
He has received five Pro Bowl and five First-team All-Pro selections. Even more impressively, he has won NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times.
Now in his 10th season with the Texans, the 31-year-old J.J. is still one of the most impactful defensive players in the game. This season, NFL.com ranked J.J. No. 45 in the league’s top 100 players.
Not only is that something of a slide compared to the No. 12 ranking he got last season, but it also means that J.J. ranked lower than his younger brother T.J. for the first time ever.
T.J. Watt’s plan to shut his brother up
Still, there can be no mistaking the fact that J.J. has long held the upper hand in the rivalry between the two brothers. And that doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon. Before this season started, J.J. came right out and said he would only consider T.J. his peer if he managed to win his own three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Of course, T.J. has his own thoughts about what it will take to equal — or surpass — his brother’s accomplishments. He knows that He knows that there is really just one way to put his brother in his place: be the first to win a Super Bowl ring.
As T.J. put it bluntly in the Sports Illustrated article: “That would shut him up pretty quickly.”
The Watt brothers’ 2020 Super Bowl chances compared
T.J.’s comment raises an interesting question: which of the Watt brothers has a greater chance of winning it all this season? Unfortunately for J.J., even a quick glance at the current standings show that his younger brother has a far better chance. In fact, J.J.’s Texans are at risk of not making the playoffs at all, after dropping the first four games of the season.
The Steelers, meanwhile, are coming off two seasons of not making the playoffs themselves. But this season they’ve gotten off to a hot 4-0 start. Their third win was especially important, since it came against J.J.’s Texans squad. The odds are still against Pittsburgh winning the AFC North ahead of the Baltimore Ravens.
But most sportsbooks had the Steelers making it into the playoffs even before the season began. Whether they can win it all remains another question altogether — one that the Watt brothers will both be looking forward to answering.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference