Texans defensive end and reigning defensive player of the year JJ Watt grew up in Wisconsin where hockey is a very popular sport. Watt says as a child he had dreams of playing in the NHL, but the cost of being on a traveling hockey team was too much for his parents. So he took up the next best thing…football.
JJ shared the story with Peter King and the MMQB.
“I grew up in Wisconsin loving hockey. I mean, I started when I was three years old on skates. I played all over—in Canada all the time, all over the U.S., over in Germany for a 10-day tournament. Hockey, honestly, was my first love. The excitement, the fast pace, the intensity of the game … I still love it to this day. Really, I had to quit. It was financial. I have two younger brothers and we were all playing on a travel team, and it was extremely expensive. My family is a middle class family. When I grew up and learned how much it actually cost for us to play hockey, I could not believe that my parents let us play as long as they did. Now I’m forever grateful for my parents even giving me the opportunity, because honestly those were some of the best years of my life. Now that I understand how much it cost, I’m so thankful to my parents. I wasn’t always this big, so I was more of a center back then and a goal scorer. Loved the game. Still do. I love the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s one of my favorite sporting events … And [6-9 Bruins defenseman] Zdeno Chara—he’s representing for all us big guys out there. I love him. I love his physical brand of hockey.”
Although it wasn’t his choice, I think Watt may think he picked the right alternate sport. Andrew Luck? Well he might wish JJ was skating on ice as opposed to around his tackles.