The Pittsburgh Steelers, perhaps more than most organizations, value football bloodlines. That’s been the case for their three most recent first-round draft picks, Devin Bush, Terrell Edmunds, and T.J. Watt, the latter back in 2017, and the younger brother of three-time Defensive Player of the Year Award-winner J.J. Watt.
Though recently saddled by injuries over the past few years, J.J. remains one of the most dominant defensive players in the game when he is on the field, but in the meantime, younger brother T.J. has closed the gap, posting 14.5 sacks with eight forced fumbles and two interceptions a year ago, finishing third in Defensive Player of the Year Award voting.
The two—along with middle brother Derek, the fullback, who is now also in Pittsburgh—share a friendly, healthy sibling rivalry, training together in the offseason, but with J.J. and T.J. both being pass-rushers, they have a certain camaraderie that goes above and beyond, and big brother loves to watch little brother play.
“I’m really excited about it. I love watching him play. It’s fun to watch”, he said during an interview earlier today. “It’s fun to have conversations with him. It’s fun to talk in the offseason, work in the offseason. Obviously, Derek being on the other side of the ball, we can’t necessarily have the same conversations about what it takes to rush the passer and things like that”.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) September 7, 2020
“But for me and T.J., playing the same position, fighting for the same things, trying to one-up each other at all times, there’s nothing better than that”, he went on. “One of my favorite things after our games is to go on quick and see what his stats are during the game or to turn on their game if it’s on in the afternoon and watch. So now I’ll be able to turn on that game and see both of them. But for me and T.J. personally, there’s obviously a whole lot of competition going on, and I have no plans on letting my little brother win anytime soon”.
The brothers rib each other constantly, both in private and in public, particularly on social media and basically any time they get a chance to mention another in an interview. T.J., for example, recently joked that he has being going easy on Derek in practice, so he doesn’t have to call up their mother crying.
But J.J., the oldest and most accomplished, usually gets the last laugh. He was asked at what point he began to see T.J. not just as his younger brother but also as a peer. Turns out, that’s at least three years away from happening. “Once he has three Defensive Player of the Year Awards I’ll see him as a peer”, he joked.
I wouldn’t necessarily bet against that happening, though. We’ll see who’s laughing a decade from now.