The passion that fuels JJ Watt

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Written by Miles McPherson

On the field, J.J. Watt’s accolades are remarkable—even historic. Since being drafted by the Houston Texans in 2011, the three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year has accrued 76 sacks and 15 forced fumbles in what amounts to one of the most promising starts to a career since the great Lawrence Taylor entered the NFL.

In 2016, after starting 80 straight games, the seemingly unstoppable Watt showed a chink in his armor, undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back. Despite only playing in three games that year, he was still awarded no. 35 on the NFL’s Top 100 list by his peers.

Without Watt, the Texans made it to the second round of the playoffs. This season, after all the hard work and rehab, Watt returned to a loaded defensive front that featured pass-rushing specialists Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus and, needless to say, expectations were high.

Then the rain started falling, and Hurricane Harvey dumped 51.88 inches of rain, setting a record for the most on record in the continental US, causing major flooding and property damage. NPR estimated that 50,000+ people were displaced, and officials believe 82 people died.

JJ immediately took to social media, asking people to donate toward relief efforts. His initial goal was to raise $200,000 dollars, but the money just kept coming in to his YouCaring fund. When it was all said and done, Watt helped raise $37 million dollars.

When asked what he’d do with all the money, Watt replied,

“I’m working with organizations, and I’m going to get the best organizations in each category that I want to help. Things like rebuilding houses. Things like food. Things like schools for the kids. Making sure that we take care of all these different areas.”

For all he has done and represents to the city of Houston, Watt has become a larger-than-life figure. Simply put, J.J. is a fighter—both on and off the field. He fights to give hope to both his teammates and his city.

Eager to give the people of Houston a little bit more hope and something to look forward to, the all pro set his sights on bringing a championship to Texas this season, but, in the October 8th game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture, ending his season.

Taking to Twitter, the deflated defensive lineman externalized his frustrations, saying,

“I can’t sugar coat it, I am devastated. All I want to do is be out there for my teammates and this city. I’m sorry.”

I played in the NFL and, having suffered season-ending injuries during my own career, I know the disappointment he’s feeling. That pain is all the greater when you’re passionate and motivated—like Watt is—to help and fight for somebody else.

JJ’s devastation wasn’t so much the pain of a broken bone, but of the realization that he could no longer go out there and provide the city he loves with the hope they so desperately need.

I wonder how many of us have that same drive to give hope to others.

In John 10:10, Jesus says that He came to give life. That life is a free gift from God (Romans 6:23). Anyone can have it! But, unfortunately, many, many people don’t know about God’s gift of life and, as Hosea 4:6 says, they “are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Those of us who have received forgiveness of our sins and accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior must, if we understand and exhibit the heart of Christ, display a fervent passion for the souls of non-believers. As 2 Peter 3:9 says, the Lord is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”—God’s heart breaks for people who haven’t received his forgiveness, and thus, don’t have the hope of eternal life.

JJ Watt’s heart breaks when he can’t take the field, and not only because he loves playing football. He is downtrodden because he can’t bring hope to the hurting fans of Houston.

To all the Christians reading, I ask: Does your heart break for all the people you know who don’t know the hope of the gospel? It should.

Before our Savior ascended into heaven, he commissioned his disciples to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Until we passionately commit ourselves to the work of making new disciples by sharing the hope of the gospel with them, we cannot call ourselves true disciples of Christ.

If you have accepted Jesus, I want you to think of one person you know who doesn’t have the hope of the gospel. Plan to reach out to them this week, and share the great hope that God has given you.

To share the hope of the gospel with your friend via text message, text the word SHARE to the number 52525.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to give your life to God and you would like to do that, click HERE.

Miles McPherson is a former NFL player and the Pastor of Rock Church in San Diego, California. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Want to know God?