Like you, Kevin Colbert doesn’t get a vote for Defensive Player of the Year. But like you, his would’ve gone to TJ Watt. Taking nothing away from Aaron Donald, Colbert praised the job Watt did in 2020 and throughout his Pittsburgh Steelers’ career. That’s what he told Randy Baumann on the DVE morning show yesterday.
“Never to take anything away from Aaron Donald, the great Penn Hills, Pitt, and Los Angeles Ram and just a great guy as well,” Colbert said. “Congrats to Aaron. TJ is a phenomenal football player. In my opinion, he is the best defensive player in the league, but I don’t vote on that category. And again, nothing to take away from Aaron because he’s special, but TJ special as well. We’re very happy he’s with us.”
Donald and Watt were the two frontrunners for this year’s DPOY Award. Ultimately, Donald won out in a 27-20 vote (with Dolphins’ CB Xavien Howard netting the other three) despite Watt putting up better numbers in almost every category in one fewer game played. As Colbert said, Donald is a generational talent and voting for him is far from an outrageous decision. But it calls into question what Watt will have to do in order to take home that trophy. In 2019, he led the league in forced fumbles. In 2020, he led the league in sacks. Each time, he came up just shy of being named Defensive Player of the Year.
But Colbert remained optimistic Watt’s career arc will put him at the head of the table many more times.
“Hopefully there’ll be more opportunities for him down the line. Because I think that drives him. But he also wants to be a Super Bowl champion more than anything else.”
Watt posted a photo of the Michael Jordan “I took that personally” meme moments after the award was announced.
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) February 7, 2021
And this tweet from James Conner showed how motivated Watt’s been trying to win the award.
Seen TJ write DPOY down everyday on paper in team meeting. I know how bad you want it my bro.. right back to work….. https://t.co/0GkKWbUzVr
— James Conner (@JamesConner_) February 7, 2021
Colbert and the Steelers will back up those “best defensive player in the league” words later this summer when they back the money truck up to Watt’s house. Watt figures to become the highest paid defensive player in football, netting an extension somewhere in the $30 million per year range. Joey Bosa currently sits at the top of that list, earning $27 million per year.